Manhattan Beach native Michael Scott Moore, behind awesome surfing novelSweetness and Blood: How Surfing Spread From Hawaii and California to the Rest of the World, With Some Unexpected Results, told The New York Times two summers ago that he had begun a full-length sophomore effort on Somali pirates.
Looks like he may have gotten a little too close to his subjects: Moore was abducted by “15 men in two Land Cruisers south of Galyako in the Galmadug region” on January 21, according to the Somali Report.
The abduction came at the height of a building war between President Obama and Somalia's infamous career kidnappers. Just yesterday morning, two other hostages (one American) were freed from the pirates' clutches in a daring rescue, reportedly carried out by the same team of Navy SEALs that killed Osama Bin Laden. Via Fox News:
The high-profile rescue early Wednesday raised questions about whether the many other Western hostages held in Somalia have a greater chance at release — or are in greater danger.
“If they try again we will all die all together,” warned Hassan Abdi, a Somali pirate connected to the gang holding the American. “It's difficult to hold U.S. hostages, because it's a game of chance: Die or get huge money. But we shall stick with our plans and will never release him until we get a ransom.”
Moore's particular group of captors is led by “a well-known commander from Sa'ad clan” named Ali Duulaaye, sources tell foreign journalists for the Somali Report. And the L.A. County native's upcoming book on pirates could have everything to do with the abduction: “This group of pirates accuse the American journalist of being a spy and studying pirate activities in the Mudug region.”
U.S. officials' response, via the Daily Breeze:
“We are aware of news reports that a U.S. citizen has been kidnapped in northern Somalia and we are concerned about the individual's safety and well-being,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Wednesday during her daily briefing.
“We have been in contact with the individual's family and we are working with contacts in Kenya and Somalia to ascertain further information.”
Since growing up in SoCal, Moore had moved to Berlin. His last Facebook activity, and his last tweet, came about three weeks before the abduction, and his blog is currently down for “maintenance.” However, Moore's Twitter indicates that he had been reporting on the L.A. arsonist and the suspect's ties to Germany.
In June 2010, The NYT asked Moore, “What are you working on now?” This was his response:
Two novels. One is a series of linked stories set in my fictional surf town, Calaveras Beach. My first novel, Too Much of Nothing, was set there, and I want to revisit the neighborhood around the time of the Iraq war.
I also went to Africa late last year to write a series of articles about Somali pirates. A book about piracy has the same appeal to me as the surf book — it has the same clash between hard fact and clichéd mythology. It would also involve a great deal of travel.
An L.A.-area couple was killed by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean last February, while on a global mission to hand out Bibles.
Updates to come as we find out more.