The infamous Gulf of Eden Somali Pirates have come out strongly in defence of their reputation amid allegations of being greedy opportunists.
"We are defenders of the seas with a profound regard to civil liberties, human life and believe no religion means no harm against an other" said Jaffar Mohammad, a pirate as he handed their captives a plate of chips and grilled fish for Christmas.
The Somali Pirates have been regarded in much of the west as selfish and greedy opportunists taking advantage of the lawlessness in their country to patrol the seas at will and capture ships for ransom.
But at home and in much of the horn of Africa, it is a different story. As early as November they were enjoying an approval rating of as high as seventy percent.
This does not come as a surprise to them since they are credited with reviving the local economy through their generous consumerism and real estate investments.
"Our mission is not to rob from the rich and spend it on ourselves" said Shakir Jamma-Welli a former fisherman turned 'maritime expert' whose main job is to act as 'the brain' of the pirates due to his vast knowledge of the sea.
"As soon as i make enough money to build a house, buy a four by four and marry a beautiful second wife, am out" he said.
Since the piracy business took off, local fishermen who could not 'jump ship' as it were, for one reason or the other have reported abundant catches since the pirates have scared away the Chinese and Filipino trawlers which were plundering their seas and stealing their God given fish.
"they were the real pirates" said Shukri a local fisherman.
Environmentalists and Ocean people agree.Professor Wendy Berghdal of the Danish Maritime Institute [DMI] attributed the re-emergence of undersea flora and fauna to the active buccaneering activities in the region but stopped short of glorifying the pirates for political correctness reasons.
" we are seeing the revival of coral polyps in regions where we had written off completely. This is a good development but we also acknowledge preserving our sea's biodiversity is a work in progress" said Bergdahl.
" I am ready to lend support to any initiatives which ensure the environmental degraders don't come back, even if it means supporting..eh..uuuhh... UNICEF" she added.
The Pirates privately acknowledged the positive aspects of their actions and wished 'if only the whole world could see things this way'.
" honestly speaking the environment wasn't necessarily on our to do list but given the positive buzz it has generated, it is not such a toxic by product" said Mahmoud Dhahir in an off the cuff remark.