Somali pirate leader 'Big Mouth' arrested in Belgium 'sting'

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Media captionHow the operation unfolded

A man alleged to be one of Somalia's most influential pirate leaders has been arrested in Belgium.

Mohammed Abdi Hassan, also known as Afweyneh or Big Mouth, was detained at Brussels international airport on Saturday after a sting operation.

Undercover agents had persuaded the Somali and an associate that they wanted to make a documentary about their pirate exploits.

Mr Abdi Hassan now faces criminal charges, including hijacking.

Prosecutors believe that the Somali was behind the seizure of a Belgian ship in 2009, reports the BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels.

Mr Abdi Hassan is also charged with kidnapping the ship's crew and with belonging to a criminal organisation.

Image caption Successful pirate attacks off Somalia have decreased in the last two years


In January, Mohammed Abdi Hassan was reported to have said that he had renounced crime after eight years in the piracy business.

However, Belgian authorities say he made millions from his illegal activities, and will be held responsible.

Belgian vessels have in the past taken part in international missions against piracy on the high seas off Somalia.

In a UN report leaked last year, it was alleged that Afweyneh was "one of the most notorious and influential leaders of the Hobyo-Harardhere Piracy Network".

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