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Somalia pirates
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UN: Somali Pirates Capture 4 Americans
February 19, 2011
Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS -- Somalia's U.N. Mission said Friday that pirates hijacked a yacht carrying four U.S. citizens in the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast.

Omar Jamal, first secretary at the Somali mission, identified the yacht as the S/V Quest.

He said the mission is calling for the immediate release of the hostages and all other captives who are in the hands of the pirates.

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Jamal said the hijacking raises "serious concern" as it follows the sentencing in New York on Thursday of a Somali pirate who kidnapped and brutalized the captain of a U.S.-flagged merchant ship off the coast of Africa in 2009. Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse was sentenced to 33 years in prison.

A website chronicling the voyage of a yacht named S/V Quest describes it as being the home of Jean and Scott Adam. The couple has been sailing around the world since December 2004, according to the website. "This is planned to be an eight or ten year voyage," it states.

The Adams run a Bible ministry, according to their website, and have been distributing Bibles to schools and churches in remote villages in areas including the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America and French Polynesia.

The couple are members of the Marina del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, California, according to the website. A woman who answered the phone there Friday night would not confirm that the couple are members and said the club could not release any information.

Earlier on Friday, The European Union's anti-piracy task force said it appeared that Somali pirates had hijacked a separate vessel, the Alfardous, and its eight crew members in the Gulf of Aden. The force said it had no more details about the vessel since it was seized Sunday.

Somalia hasn't had a functioning government since 1991, and piracy has flourished off its coast. The pirates earn multimillion dollar ransoms from the hijackings. They were holding 29 ships and roughly 660 hostages before the latest seizures.

Jamal said the mission again appeals to the international community to help curb the ever increasing acts of piracy.

Also Friday, Interpol said it will help seven African nations better fight piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The program is expected to cost $2.17 million (euro1.6 million), said Pierre Saint Hilaire, the assistant director of the Interpol's maritime piracy task force.
22-02-2011 12:14 PM
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Somali Pirates Kill 4 Americans February 22, 2011
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Somali Pirates Kill 4 Americans
February 22, 2011
Military.com|by Bryant Jordan


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Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle are seen on a yacht in Bodega Bay, Calif., in a 2005 photo. Macay and Riggle, both of Seattle, were reportedly killed by Somali pirates on the yacht Quest. The Quest's owners, Scott and Jean Adam, were also killed.

Four American hostages held by Somali pirates since Feb. 18 were killed by their captors early today, U.S. Central Command announced in a statement.

U.S. forces tracking the pirated American yacht "Quest" for about three days moved to retake the ship when gunfire erupted on it, but "the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors," CENTCOM stated in a press release. All four died of their wounds.

"We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest," CENTCOM commander, Marine Gen. James Mattis, said in a statement.

Two pirates died during the fight with U.S. special operations forces, including one taken down with a knife, according to Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of U.S. naval forces for Central Command. U.S. forces also found two pirates already dead aboard the yacht. They took 13 pirates prisoner; two other pirates had been captured earlier.

Fox said in a briefing televised at the Pentagon that the violence began when a rocket-propelled grenade was fired from the yacht at the USS Sterett, a guided-missile destroyer that was 600 yards away. The RPG missed the Navy ship but then small-arms fire was heard aboard the yacht, he said.

CENTCOM officials said negotiations for the release of the hostages were still underway when violence began. Rescuers who boarded the yacht immediately tended to the Americans' wounds but were unable to save them.

The American victims included Jean and Scott Adam, a couple sailing around the world since December 2004, according to a website that has been chronicling the voyage. The couple ran a Bible ministry and was distributing Bibles to schools and churches in remote villages in areas including the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America and French Polynesia, the website stated.

The other victims were Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, of Seattle, Wash.

Just before the military announced the deaths, The Associated Press reported that a Somali pirate warned in a telephone interview that if the yacht were attacked "the hostages will be the first to go."

"Some pirates have even suggested rigging the yacht with land mines and explosives so as the whole yacht explodes with the first gunshot," the pirate told the news service.

Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, the head of Dryad Maritime Intelligence, said he was confounded by the turn of events.

"We have heard threats against the lives of Americans before, but it strikes me as being very, very unusual why they would kill hostages outright," he said, adding that the pirates must realize that killing Americans would invite a military response.
22-02-2011 12:17 PM
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Somali pirates shoot two couples, from California and Seattle
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Somali pirates kill 4 American boaters
Somali pirates shoot two couples, from California and Seattle, who had been on an around-the-world sailing trip when they were taken hostage off of Oman.


Hijacked couple had discussed dangers of piracy in Red, Arabian seas Hijacked couple had discussed dangers of piracy in Red, Arabian seas

Somali pirates hijack yacht of U.S. couple on Bible mission Somali pirates hijack yacht of U.S. couple on Bible mission

By David S. Cloud, Washington Bureau

February 22, 2011, 8:55 a.m.

WASHINGTON — A California couple and two other Americans taken hostage by Somali pirates were mortally wounded Tuesday morning by their captors, shortly before a U.S. special operations team boarded the hijacked vessel, killed two of the pirates and captured the rest, U.S. military officials said. FOR THE RECORD:

Some of the victims were still alive when they were found by the U.S. team and were given first aid, but all four died, said Adm. Mark Fox, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region.

The owners of the yacht Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey and another couple, Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle of Seattle, were on an around-the-world sailing trip when they were taken hostage by pirates Friday off of Oman.

"We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest," said Gen. James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander.

Fox told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that the incident was the deadliest one he could recall involving U.S. citizens held by pirates.

A flotilla of U.S. naval vessels had been shadowing the yacht, known as the Quest, for three days and conducted negotiations over the weekend in an effort to free the two couples as the yacht made its way south toward Somalia , said Lt. Commander Mike Lawhorn, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean.

There were signs of divisions among the 19 pirates during the hostage standoff, U.S. officers said. On Monday, two of them came aboard one of the Navy vessels, the USS Sterett, for face-to-face negotiations and did not return to the yacht.

The incident turned fatal Tuesday morning when the pirates fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Sterett, which missed, and U.S. naval personnel heard gunshots coming from the yacht. At that point, a team of 15 special-operations forces boarded the yacht.

"As they responded to the gunfire, reaching and boarding the Quest, the forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors," according to a U.S. military account of the incident.

Fox said he had no details of the negotiations with the pirates and declined to comment when asked if the U.S. had planned to prevent the hostages from being taken ashore if the yacht reached Somalia.

After the grenade was fired at the Sterett, several pirates came on deck with their hands raised, as if trying to surrender, Fox said. The gunfire erupted on board almost immediately. But U.S. officers said it was not known whether the hostages had made an escape attempt or whether disagreements among the pirates prompted the shots.

"I can presume inside the vessel there was a lot of small-arms fire," Fox said, but he noted that the special forces team did not have to fight its way onto the yacht.

As the U.S. special forces team cleared the vessel, it discovered two pirates who already were dead. Another two were killed by U.S. personnel, one by gunfire and one by a knife, Fox said.

"A pirate was killed by a special operations force members with a knife while clearing the interior of the vessel," Fox said.

In all, 15 pirates are in U.S. custody and will be held for possible prosecution, Fox said.

The FBI is investigating the deaths, Fox said.

Fox said there were indications that the pirates who took the Quest came from a "mother ship," a larger vessel that operates far from Somalia and can dispatch teams to hijack multiple ships.

U.S. officials have said recently that as the U.S.-led effort to guard ships against Somali attacks had begun reducing attacks near the Somali coast, the pirates have extended their operations hundreds of miles out into the Indian Ocean to elude multinational naval forces, which includes dozens of vessels from two dozen countries.

Along with the Sterett, a guided-missile destroyer, the U.S. naval ships involved in the operation included the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the USS Bulkeley, another guided-missile destroyer, according to Central Command.

They had begun tracking the yacht after being alerted that a Danish naval helicopter had seen the Quest off Oman under the pirates' control.

Jean and Scott Adam of southern California owned the 58-foot custom-made yacht and had spent most of the last 10 years on sailing adventures to far-flung locales such as the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti and New Zealand. Posting photos and information on their website, they raved about their travels aboard the Quest. "We've decided to ... explore Fiji like petals on a flower," they wrote about their 2007 trip to the South Pacific.

On the trip in which they were hijacked, the Adams planned to travel across the Indian Ocean from their temporary dock in Phuket, Thailand, and then head up the Red Sea and through the Mediterranean to the Greek islands.

Friends in California said Scott Adam, 70, had previously discussed the dangers of piracy when navigating the Arabian and Red seas. Adam had considered shipping the boat to avoid the dangers of the trip but decided instead to join a rally of yachts heading to the same location, they said.

The couple, however, apparently decided to break off from the Blue Water Rally, which organized and supported the group of boats headed toward the Mediterranean.

Blue Water Rally organizers released a statement on Saturday that said the Adams chose to take an independent route from Mumbai to Salalah, Oman, and left the rally on Feb. 15. They were hijacked three days later.

david.cloud@latimes.com
22-02-2011 12:25 PM
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Somali pirates were rushed by Special Forces
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Somali pirates were rushed by Special Forces when gunfire was heard, officials say
By Tony Perry and David S. Cloud Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
February 22, 2011, 9:42 a.m.
Full Story


Dramatic details emerged Tuesday morning about the attempt by U.S. Special Forces to try to rescue a Southern California yachting couple and another couple taken hostage by Somali pirates.

The pirates were in radio contact with the U.S. guided missile destroyer Sterett, the closest U.S. ship, when gunfire was heard.

As a U.S. Special Forces team -- Navy SEALs -- rushed to board a yacht hijacked by Somali pirates, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired by the pirates at the Sterett as a U.S. Special Forces team rushed to board the Quest.

All four hostages had been shot by the pirates and killed, officials said.

Adm. Mark Fox, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region, said he had no details of the negotiations with the pirates and declined to comment when asked if the U.S. had planned to prevent the hostages from being taken ashore if the yacht reached Somalia.

After the grenade was fired at the Sterett, several pirates came on deck with their hands raised, as if trying to surrender, Fox said. The gunfire erupted on board almost immediately. But U.S. officers said it was not known whether the hostages had made an escape attempt or whether disagreements among the pirates prompted the firing.

"I can presume inside the vessel there was a lot of small-arms fire," Fox said, but he noted that the Special Forces team did not have to fight its way onto the yacht.

As the Special Forces team cleared the vessel, it discovered two pirates who already were dead. Another two were killed by U.S. personnel, one by gunfire and one by a knife, Fox said.

The American boaters who were killed were Jean and Scott Adam of Southern California and Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle of Seattle. None of the U.S. forces were injured.

The four ships that had been shadowing the Quest were the carrier Enterprise, guided missile cruiser Leyte Gulf, and guided missile destroyers Sterett and Bulkeley. The four were in the region to support anti-piracy efforts and missions involving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Central Command.

The U.S. is part of an anti-piracy coalition based in Bahrain with ships from several countries. Piracy off Somalia's east coast has plagued shipping for several years, with ships held for ransom.

In late 2009, U.S. officials noted that the pirates extended the range of their attacks to the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia's north coast. The pirates are also ranging farther out to sea, 600 miles in some cases.

The Sterett, whose home port is San Diego, is named for Andrew Sterett, who was captain of the U.S. schooner Enterprise during the Barbary Wars of 1801 when the U.S. fought with pirates off North Africa over their demand of tribute from ships in the Mediterranean.
22-02-2011 12:32 PM
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3-Pirates kill four U.S. hostages near Somalia
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UPDATE 3-Pirates kill four U.S. hostages near Somalia

Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:10pm EST
By Phil Stewart
Full Story


WASHINGTON, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Pirates shot dead four U.S. hostages on a private yacht on Tuesday, the deadliest incident involving Americans kidnapped for ransom in the increasingly dangerous waters off Somalia.

The U.S. military said the pirates shot the hostages before American special forces boarded the vessel.

U.S. troops killed two pirates as they took control of the the boat, and took 15 pirates into custody. Another two pirates were found dead when U.S. special forces arrived but they were not killed by U.S. forces, the military said.

"We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest," said Gen James N. Mattis, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command.

Pirate gangs preying on shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean typically target large merchant ships, with oil tankers the prize catch, but the snatching of foreigners can also yield high ransoms. There were around 750 pirate hostages at the end of January.

The Americans killed on Tuesday were Jean and Scott Adam, from California, as well as Phyllis Macay, Bob Riggle, from Seattle, Washington.

U.S. forces learned of the hijacking on Friday.

The U.S. military said negotiations with the pirates had been under way when on Tuesday morning, without warning, a pirate fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett.

Then gunfire broke out inside the pirated vessel.

"The intent always had been that this would be a negotiated process and not ever go into a point where we actually had gunfire," said Vice Admiral Mark Fox, the head of U.S. naval forces in the turbulent region.

President Barack Obama had authorized the use of force in the case of an imminent threat to the hostages, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

Obama was notified of the deaths at 4:42 a.m. EST

Two Somali pirates who spoke with Reuters by telephone said the hostages were ordered killed since the pirates themselves were under attack by U.S. forces.

"Our colleagues called us this morning, that they were being attacked by a U.S. warship," Mohamud, a Somali pirate, told Reuters. "We ordered our comrades to kill the four Americans before they got killed."

Pirate leader Farah, speaking from Bayla, a pirate haven in the northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland, vowed to avenge the deaths and capture of his comrades.

"I lost the money I invested and my comrades. No forgiveness for the Americans. Revenge. Our business will go on," he said, adding he had spent $110,000 so far in the hijacking, including on weapons and food and salaries.

Vice Admiral Fox said the incident was yet another sign of how pirates are using larger "mother ships" to move further out to sea, and cautioned vessels to heed warnings about pirate activity in the region.

"The pirates have been able to go for long distances out to sea, up to 1,300, 1,400 nautical miles away from Somalia," Fox said, saying pirate activity went all the way to off the coast of India and down to Madagascar.

In April 2009, U.S. Navy special forces freed the captain of the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama by killing three Somali pirates who held him hostage in a lifeboat. Obama had authorized the use of force in that incident as well.

(Additional reporting by Alister Bull in Washington and Mohamed Ahmed and Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; Editing by Vicki Allen and Frances Kerry
22-02-2011 01:05 PM
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Will Pirates Who Allegedly Killed Americans Be Prosecuted In U.S.? And If So, Where?
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Will Pirates Who Allegedly Killed Americans Be Prosecuted In U.S.? And If So, Where?

by Mike Levine | February 22, 2011
FULL STORY

The fate of the Somali pirates who allegedly killed four Americans off the coast of Somalia has yet to be determined, but the U.S. Justice Department says it is "investigating and reviewing" evidence in the case and is "committed to working with our international partners to ensure that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice."

The four Americans were on a yacht in the waters off the Horn of Africa when their vessel was hijacked Friday. U.S. forces were following the hijacked yacht when on Tuesday at least some of the hijackers opened fire. The hostages -- Scott and Jean Adam of California, and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle -- had suffered fatal wounds.

If the U.S. government decides to handle this case in the same way it has handled other recent cases of Somali pirates targeting U.S. ships, the 15 surviving Somalis currently aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier near the Horn of Africa will soon be heading for a U.S. courtroom.

The United States may not have many other options. In early 2009, Kenya and several Western countries entered into an agreement whereby Kenya would prosecute pirates captured by Western forces. But Kenya became overwhelmed by the volume of cases, and in late 2010 Kenya canceled the agreement, according to reports at the time.

Should the Justice Department, along with other U.S. authorities, decide to prosecute the 15 pirates in the United States, one of four U.S. attorneys' offices around the country could end up with the case: the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of Virginia, the Western District of Washington or the Central District of California.

Asked whether those districts are in fact in the mix, a Justice Department spokesman declined to answer, saying he is "not going to speculate on any potential venues at this time." Past cases and common Justice Department procedures, however, indicate why these venues could be in the mix:

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

The FBI's New York Field Office has jurisdiction over investigations of Somali piracy. That is at least part of the reason that Abduwali Muse was brought to New York City after hijacking the Maersk Alabama container ship and holding its captain, Richard Phillips, hostage in April 2009. Phillips was freed only after military snipers took out several pirates. In May, Muse pleaded guilty to his role in the hijacking, and he was recently sentenced to more than 33 years in prison. In a statement after the sentencing, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said "piracy on the high seas is a crime against the international community that will not be tolerated," and FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk said the sentence "sends a clear message to others who would interfere with American vessels or do harm to Americans on the high seas: Whatever seas you ply, you are not beyond the reach of American justice, and you will be held accountable for your actions."

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment, and an email to the FBI's New York Field Office was not immediately returned.

EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA

Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia are the only federal prosecutors -- at least in modern history -- to have brought a Somali piracy case to trial and won convictions. In November 2010, a federal jury in Norfolk, Va, convicted five Somali men of engaging in piracy and other offenses after they attacked the U.S.S. Nicholas months earlier. The men had left Somalia in April 2010 looking for a ship to pirate, but the ship they targeted turned out to be the U.S.S. Nicholas. The five Somali men face a mandatory penalty of life in prison when they are sentenced on March 14. Their conviction "demonstrates that armed attacks on U.S.-flagged vessels are crimes against the international community and that pirates will face severe consequences in U.S. courts," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement at the time.

MacBride oversaw another case of Somali piracy. Also in November 2010, Jama Idle Ibrahim was sentenced to 30 years in prison for acts of piracy against the U.S.S. Ashland, which he believed was a merchant vessel and hoped to hold for ransom when he attacked it in April 2010. He pleaded guilty to federal charges in August 2010. Five others allegedly involved in that attack are awaiting trial, after a federal judge threw out the piracy charges against them and the U.S. government appealed that decision.

The Somalis were first brought to Norfolk -- and prosecuted there -- because the ships they attacked were based out of Norfolk. It's unclear if there would be any basis for prosecuting the 15 Somali pirates who allegedly killed four Americans this week in the Eastern District of Virginia. In any case, however, a district can obtain jurisdiction by being where defendants first arrive on U.S. soil.

A spokesman for the Eastern District of Virginia declined to comment on the most recent case or whether his office might be asked to prosecute it.

CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

The hijacked yacht, dubbed Quest, was owned by the Adam couple. While the couple had been sailing around the world for several years -- handing out Bibles wherever they went -- they maintained a home-base of sorts at a yacht club in Marina del Rey, Calif. The fact that victims in this case have a tie to the Central District of California could provide a basis to prosecute the alleged pirates there.

An email to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles was not immediately returned.

WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON

The Adams were joined on their yacht by Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle. Like with the Adams, the fact that victims in this case were from the Western District of Washington could provide a basis to prosecute the alleged pirates there.

The remains of all four victims were taken aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. The 15 pirates who were allegedly involved in the fatal hijacking are being detained aboard the vessel, pending a decision on prosecution.
24-02-2011 11:54 AM
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Somali Pirate Sentenced to Nearly 34 Years in US Prison
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Somali Pirate Sentenced to Nearly 34 Years in US Prison

Carolyn Weaver | New York February 16, 2011
FULL STORY

A federal judge in New York has sentenced Somali pirate Abduwali Muse to 33 years and nine months in prison for hijacking a container ship in the Indian Ocean, taking the captain hostage, and for his role in two earlier ship hijackings.

Abduwali Abdiqadir Muse was sentenced to nearly 34 years in prison in an emotional hearing that included testimony from a survivor of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, an American-flagged container ship, off the coast of Somalia.

Muse’s lawyers had sought the minimum, more lenient sentence of 27 years. But U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, saying Muse and his accomplices appeared to "relish their most depraved acts of physical and psychological violence," said a longer sentence was needed to deter other pirates.

Following takeovers of two other ships, Muse and three accomplices climbed aboard the Maersk Alabama on April 8, 2009. Muse, whom prosecutors said was the leader, allegedly fired an AK-47 assault rifle at the captain, Richard Phillips, and ordered him to stop the ship. Days later, Muse was captured, and U.S. Navy snipers shot and killed his three accomplices, rescuing Phillips. Colin Wright, who had been third officer on the ship and spoke at the hearing, later told reporters that the sentence was not too harsh.

"Seems like a very short time for the pain and trauma that he and his companions have caused," said Wright. "He’s also responsible for his three companions being killed. And a sentence of 33, nearly 34 years, seems like a fairly short one for that."

Muse had pleaded guilty in May to six counts related to hijacking maritime vessels, kidnapping and hostage-taking. Prior to his sentencing, Muse told the court through a translator that he was "very sorry," and asked forgiveness from those he had harmed. Muse’s attorneys contended that extreme poverty led him to piracy, and that he was still in his mid-teens. However, the court found that Muse was over 18 at the time of the hijackings.

Colin Wright said he has returned to his work as a sailor, but still does not feel safe. He said U.S.-flagged ships need to be armed.

"We need some protection aboard our vessels and having armed security is very good, if they would put armed security on every ship," he said. "But if they’re not going to allow armed security, I think we should be able to protect ourselves with small arms."

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said in a statement that the sentence makes clear that piracy on the high seas is a crime against the international community that will not be tolerated.

But despite international naval patrols, pirates continue to operate in the waters off Somalia, and have been tried or are facing trial in several other countries including Germany, South Korea, Malaysia and India. In 2010, a U.S. court in the state of Virginia found five Somali men guilty of firing at a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of Africa.
24-02-2011 11:57 AM
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Somali pirate sentenced to 405 months in prison.
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Somali pirate sentenced to nearly 34 years in prison
From Deb Brunswick, CNN
February 16, 2011 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
FULL STORY


New York (CNN) -- A federal court sentenced a Somali man to nearly 34 years in prison Wednesday for acts related to high-seas piracy after he and three other men hijacked a U.S.-flagged ship as it cruised past the Horn of Africa.

Abduwali Abukhadir Muse pleaded guilty to the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama and for subsequently taking the ship's captain hostage.

He was sentenced to 405 months in prison.

"I'm sorry very much for what happened to victims on ship, I am very sorry about what I caused," Muse said. "I was recruited by people more powerful than me."

He asked "forgiveness for all the people I harmed and the U.S. government."

Muse was also sentenced for his participation in the hijacking of two other vessels in late March and early April of 2009, which also involved the taking of hostages.

He pleaded guilty on May 18, 2010, to two felony counts of hijacking maritime vessels, two felony counts of kidnapping, and two felony counts of hostage taking, according to a U.S. attorney statement.

"For five days that must have seemed like an eternity to his victims, Abduwali Abukhadir Muse terrorized the captain and crew of the Maersk Alabama," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "Now he will pay for those five days and the events leading up to them."

The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

In the hijacking, U.S. Navy SEALs ultimately rescued the ship's captain, Richard Phillips, while he was held hostage in a lifeboat not far from the Alabama.

Phillips was initially hailed as a hero for his actions in exchanging himself for the safety of his crew. Later, many of those crew members told CNN that Phillips had ignored several explicit warnings that urged him to stay away from the shipping lanes where the attack took place.

Phillips returned to sea about a year after that attack and was not reassigned to the Alabama.

Until last year, there had not been a piracy-related conviction in the United States since 1861, during the Civil War, officials said.

Some 685 sailors are currently being held for ransom aboard 30 ships off the Somali coastline, according to the International Maritime Organization.

Somalia-based pirates often hijack ships to be used as bases, or mother ships, for launching further attacks, using the ships' crews as "human shields," the organization said in a written statement.

Muse was the only survivor among the men who hijacked the Alabama and was commonly kept in solitary confinement while awaiting trial, according to his defense attorney Fiona Doherty.

He twice tried to take his own life, Doherty said.

His attorneys had asked for leniency, citing the impoverished conditions in the war-torn country in which the 19-year-old had lived.

One in six Somali children is acutely malnourished, considered the highest acute malnutrition rate in the world, according to a recent U.N. World Food Programme report.

In 2010, the United Nations suspended the delivery of food assistance in southern Somalia due to growing insecurity from armed groups in the region.
24-02-2011 12:01 PM
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Seizing of Pirate Commanders Is Questioned
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Seizing of Pirate Commanders Is Questioned
By ERIC SCHMITT
Published: February 23, 2011
FULL STORY Click here


WASHINGTON — When the two pirates boarded the U.S.S. Sterett off the coast of Somalia on Monday, American officials thought they were headed for a breakthrough in the four-day standoff with a gang that had seized four Americans vacationing on their 58-foot yacht.

Reed Saxon/Associated Press

Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson, left, joined parishioners in prayer at a Mass for Jean and Scott Adam at a Santa Monica, Calif., church.

But an F.B.I. hostage-rescue negotiator aboard the Sterett came to believe the two Somalis were not serious. So the Americans took them into custody and told the pirates back on the yacht to send over someone they could do business with.

What happened next is sharply contested and raises questions about the crucial decision to detain the pirate leaders.

American officials said the pirates on the yacht, called the Quest, seemed relieved — even “exceptionally calm” — when told their senior commander was cooling his heels in a Navy brig.

But hours later, panic ensued among young pirates. Some Americans theorized that a fight had broken out among the gang members, suddenly leaderless, and fearing they were about to be overtaken by the four Navy warships that surrounded them. One person who has talked to associates of the pirates said their leader had told them that if he did not return, they should kill the hostages, though American officials say they do not know that to be the case.

The death of the four Americans — the yacht’s owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., and two crew members, Phyllis Macay and Robert A. Riggle of Seattle — is certain to add momentum to a wide-ranging review the Obama administration is conducting on how to combat the growing threat from bands of Somali pirates. The episode began last Friday, when the Quest sent out a distress signal 275 miles from the coast of Oman, in open waters between Mumbai and Djibouti. A Yemeni fishing vessel that served as a mother ship for the pirates was seen near the yacht when it was hijacked by pirates in a smaller craft, maritime officials said, but it disappeared once the American warships drew near.

As the military converged on the yacht, officials learned that there might be a way to negotiate with the pirates’ financiers and village elders, who could have acted as shore-based intermediaries if communication permitted. But for unknown reasons these contacts did not pan out.

On Monday, the two pirates boarded the Sterett, which had pulled within 600 yards of the Quest, to conduct face-to-face negotiations, apparently knowing that it was unlikely they could get away with the yacht or its passengers. One of the pirate negotiators was a seasoned commander, who had several successful hijackings under his belt, according to one person who has regular contacts with pirate cells.

The F.B.I. agent involved was a hostage negotiator from a special team based at Quantico, Va., who was experienced in both domestic and international hostage crises, a law enforcement official said Wednesday. It was unclear whether the agent had ever negotiated with Somali pirates.

The two pirates were brought on board “in a good-faith attempt to negotiate the safe release of the hostages” a military official said. Once the Americans came to believe they were not serious, the official said, the pirate commander and his ally were detained and their fellow pirates were notified.

“The pirates who were brought aboard the ship never communicated back to their pirate allies on the Quest,” said the official, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because of the F.B.I. investigation.

“The pirates on the Quest seemed relieved and were exceptionally calm in discussions with the negotiator,” said the military official. He said the Americans placed an offer on the table. The pirates could take the Quest, or another small Navy boat. But they had to release the hostages and could not take them to join the hundreds of travelers who are believed being held for ransom in pirate strongholds.

The pirates communicated back that they wanted to sleep on the offer, the military official said. The Americans agreed, giving them eight hours.

Whatever calm the pirates displayed on the surface masked a roiling split, according to one person who has been in contact with Somali pirate cells, including people who were in communication with others who know those aboard the Quest.

Somali pirate specialists say the pirates once had an informal code that required members to treat one another well and not harm hostages, valuable commodities who draw ransom payments on average of $4 million. But while Somali pirates might once have been a tight-knit group motivated by money, not murder, pirates and pirate experts say the lure of big money was attracting less-disciplined young Somalis hungry to share in the new riches.

Somali pirates interviewed Wednesday said something must have gone very wrong in the case of the Quest, since killing hostages is bad for business and is almost certain to draw a more aggressive response from countries like the United States. “We don’t kill hostages,” said a pirate in Hobyo who gave his middle name as Hassan. “We have many hostages here, and we treat them well. But the pirates might have been angered by the Americans.”

The person in contact with pirate cells said a gun fight had broken out below deck on the Quest, likely over money or the hostages’ fate. American officials theorize this may have been the case. Five minutes after the pirates fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Sterett, and small arms fire erupted, 15 Navy SEAL commandos stormed the yacht. The hostages were dead or dying. American officials said it was unclear whether they had been executed or killed in the pirates’ cross-fire. Other pirate hostages have died in captivity or during rescue attempts, but there are few, if any, cases of pirates intentionally killing hostages.

The commandos shot and killed one pirate and stabbed another. Two other pirates were found dead, apparently killed by their comrades, and 13 surrendered to the Americans.

“While the pirates clearly knew, from the beginning of our negotiations, that we were not going to allow the Quest to make shore, they gave no warning, no visible signs whatsoever that the hostages’ lives were in danger,” said the military official. The senior law enforcement official added, “These incidents, by their very nature, often move at a rapid pace which requires difficult decisions in real time.”
24-02-2011 12:15 PM
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Somali pirates face gallows in Malaysia
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Somali pirates face gallows in Malaysia
Indo-Asian News Service
Kuala Lumpur, February 13, 2011
First Published: 14:52 IST(13/2/2011)

Seven Somali hijackers, including three minors, face a possible death sentence under Malaysian law for attempting to hijack a Malaysian vessel in the Gulf of Aden. They were produced before a magistrate's court in Kuala Lumpur and charged with discharging their firearms at Malaysian commandos
. The offence, under Section 3 of the Firearms Act (Increased Penalties) 1971, carries the death penalty.

The charge against them was read out by a Somali student from the University Utara Malaysia.

In bringing them here after rescuing the vessel and booking them, Malaysia is following in the steps of the US, Germany and the Netherlands which have charged foreign pirates who attacked their vessels in international waters.

The pirates were identified as Ahmed Othman Jamal (25) Abdil Eid Hasan (20) Koore Mohamed Abdile (18), and Abdi Hakim Mohd Abdi (18). The names of three 15-year-old juveniles were not announced.

The seven were charged with firing at commandos with the intention of causing death or harm in an attempted robbery on the MT Bunga Laurel tanker in the Gulf of Aden Jan 20.

No plea was recorded from the seven who were unrepresented.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Abazafree Mohammed Abas submitted to the court a signed certificate by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, which declared that the case could be tried here, as the offence was committed against Malaysian citizens.

Magistrate Siti Shakirah Mohtarudin set March 15 for mention to allow the court to appoint a Somali interpreter and transfer the case to the high court for trial.

The seven Somalis accused were alleged to have boarded the MT Bunga Laurel armed with guns, with the intention to hijack the tanker. On board were 23 Filipino crew members. The tanker, laden with lubricating oil and ethylene dichloride, was on its way to Singapore when the pirates struck.

Commandos from a Royal Malaysian Navy auxiliary ship stormed the tanker and a shootout ensued between the pirates and the commandos. The commandos overpowered the pirates and brought them here to face trial.

Malaysia is not the only country to prosecute Somali pirates. Last November, a court in Virginia, United States, sentenced Jama Idle Ibrahim to 30 years' jail for his role in an attack on a US navy vessel.

In the same month, a Virginia jury also sentenced five Somalis to life imprisonment for their roles in the attack on the US frigate.

Also last November, 10 Somalis were charged in Germany's first piracy trial in 400 years for hijacking a Hamburg-registered ship in the Gulf of Aden.

Last year, in June, five Somali pirates were jailed for five years by the Netherlands for attacking a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden -- the first conviction of its kind in Europe.
24-02-2011 12:22 PM
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