Somali refugee helps people captured by pirates

The World

This story was originally covered by PRI’s The World. For more, listen to the audio above.

Rachel and Paul Chandler spoke after their release of the horrors of their 388 days in captivity. Rachel Chandler said their capture by Somali pirates was terrifying enough. But the pirates would inflict more terror on the couple in the months to come. She says it was traumatic when the pirates separated she and her husband and they were distraught and frightened. She says they were beaten when they refused to be separated.

Paul Chandler said they knew little of the efforts to free them, until they were finally released. He says it was confirmed that Somalis all over the world were helping them. And Chandler thanked the Somali government for what he called, “bringing things to fruition.”

What the Chandlers didn’t say was that the man who took them to safety that day was indeed a Somali. He was Dahir Kadiye, a refugee who lives in London and is from the same village as the pirates. Kadiye says he believed he might have influence if he got involved in the hostage negotiations because he was ashamed, as a Somali and for every other Somali person, that Somali pirates were involved.

The talks went on for months between intermediaries. Kadiye says he kept repeating the same message, “we told them these people are not sheep. These people are not vessel cargo. They are human beings. They are elders, British elders so there was no reason to keep them any longer.”

Finally, two weeks ago, Kadiye drove to a prearranged meeting point. But bandits stopped his car and threatened to kill him. It took another ten hours before he was finally taken to meet the Chandlers at the bush camp where they were being held. Kadiye says he had to convince the couple that he wasn’t another pirate and showed them his British passport. He says:

“I told them, I was from east London and I came here to release you. And from now on, we will be free and you will be free and we will go home together. We hugged each other and cried.”

There are reports that ransom money was paid, but Kadiye says he knows nothing about any funds changing hands. And he says he wasn’t paid a cent for his work to free the couple.

Kadiye is back in London now and he hopes international aid will flow into Somalia so young men there will no longer turn to piracy.

PRI’s “The World” is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. “The World” is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.