Do You Know These Famous Islamic Pirates?

The Ottoman Corsairs, also known as the Barbary Corsairs, were sailors who were active until the 19th century. They were based in the North African Coast in Tunis, Rabat, Tripoli and Algiers. The term Barbary Corsairs derives from the Berber inhabitants in that area, although the best-known corsairs are mostly Turks and European pirates who converted to Islam. Here are some famous pirates and corsairs you should at least have heard of!

Khayreddin Barbarossa and Oruç Barbarossa

These two are known as the ‘Barbarossa Brothers’. The nickname “Barbarossa” was first given to Oruç because of his red beard and is Italian for “Redbeard”. After Oruç died, his younger brother Khayreddin took over this nickname. Oruç was also known as Baba Oruç, Father Oruç, because of his fatherly care of Muslims in need. He transported Muslim Mudéjars from Spain to North Africa. After he captured Algiers in 1516 with the help of the Ottoman Empire, he became the ruler of Algiers and later on the Sultan of Algiers. Two years later he was killed by the Spanish. His Brother Khayreddin took over his mission to fight against Spain and expand the Kingdom of Algiers. Khayreddin established Ottoman supremacy from the Black sea to the Atlantic coast of Morocco, which lasted for over thirty years.

Ivan Dirkie De Veenboer

Ivan Dirkie De Veenboer was a Dutch corsair, pirate and admiral of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. He converted to Islam when he was in Algiers and changed his name into Suleyman. He was later ranked as ‘Reis’, which is a Turkish title used for a captain or grand admiral in the Ottoman Empire.


Jan Janszoon

Jan Janszoon was also a Dutch Barbary pirate who converted to Islam. His Islamic name is Mourad Reis, which means he was a grand admiral as well. He sailed together with Suleyman Reiss. Later he was appointed as the President of the independent Republic of Salé, on the Moroccan coast.

Kurtoglu Muslihiddin Reis

Kortuglu Muslihiddin Reis was a good friend of the Barbarossa Brothers. He was not only an admiral, but also the Provincial Governor of Rhodes. In the conquest of Egypt in 1517 Kortuglu was appointed as the Commander of the Ottoman Egyptian Fleet. He also established the Ottoman Indian Ocean Fleet.

These are just a few examples of the many Ottoman Corsairs who sailed across the Mediterranean Sea and beyond.