Somali piracy has been poorly understood and consequently the international strategy designed to curtail it has not worked. Because of this mismatch some of the pirates have extended their exploits deep into the Indian Ocean. This article provides an analysis which shows that several pirate types driven by different logics have operated along the Somali coast and all but one of these pirates emerged as a result of the Somali state's disintegration. In contrast, pirates in other Third World regions operate under established states. Therefore, we argue that piracy is not only a matter of robbery on the high seas, but that political economy and conflict over resources have been fundamental to the rise of piracy in the region. The article offers a more refined assessment of the piracy in the region, as well as a critical appraisal of the moral economy of Somali pirates which yields an alternative method of understanding and curbing the problem.