World Deals With 'Out-of-Control' Pirates

In an audiotape aired by Al-Jazeera, a man identifying himself as Farah Abd Jameh, who claims to be one of the pirates who hijacked the tanker, said, "Negotiators are onboard the ship and on land. Once they agree on the ransom, it will be taken in cash to the oil tanker.''

He didn't name the ransom price, but it is expected to be tens of millions of dollars.

Only a Few Companies Authorized to Negotiate With Pirates

Davis says that piracy is not just about a couple of guys with guns in speed boats, but a sophisticated industry, and that the men pulling the strings are not the ones taking over ships.

"All the guys on the mother ships are just the foot soldiers," he said. "Ransom negotiations are controlled by warlords on the beach and are in direct control of normally at least a couple of thousand people."

On the other side, there are only three Kidnap and Recovery, or K and R, companies approved by the British insurance company Lloyd's of London to negotiate a settlement between the shipping company or insurer and the pirates.

Vela International's relative silence on the negotiations is typical. "The deals are done behind close doors," said Davis. "If it's in the spotlight who the actual K and R company is dealing with, the [pirates] know that it's been leaked and ? will use it as propaganda."

Karen Russo, Luis Martinez, Lara Setrakian and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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