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Somali pirate leader gets Life for murder of cruising sailors

by Des Ryan on 17 Dec 2011
Quest .. .
The leader of the thirteen pirates who were captured and pleaded guilty to the murder of four American cruising sailors has, along with one other pirate, been found guilty and sentenced in US federal court to life in prison

Leader of the pirate group, Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali, a 32-year-old also known as Sanadaaq, had pleaded guilty to piracy and hostage-taking resulting in death, while 20-year-old Jilani Abdiali, known as Ilkasse, had pleaded guilty to piracy in Eastern District Court of Virginia in the city of Norfolk.

The sentences were the latest in the attack on the Quest yacht. The first life sentences were handed down in August.

Californians Jean and Scott Adam, were sailing their vessel around the world and planned to visit sites from India to Crete when they were hijacked by 19 men off the coast of Oman. On board they had cruising friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle.

According to the Navy, pirates launched a rocket-propelled grenade and, as US forces headed to the hijacked yacht, shot the four sailors, who had not offered provocation.

The attack was by far the most serious pirate attack in the long and sordid and tragic story of Somali piracy. The four cruising sailors, travelling in a rally around the world, became the first Americans to die in the raft of hijackings over recent years off the Somali coast. Most incidents have been resolved through the payment of ransom, albeit sometimes after protracted negotiations.

'These men willingly joined this group of pirates out of greed, knowing full well that their actions could -- and did -- lead to the death of their hostages,' US Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement, according to Breibart.

'They will spend their lives in prison for what they willingly chose to do and the lifetime of suffering and pain they thrust on the victims' loved ones.'

Ali admitted in court that he commanded the pirate ship when it left Somalia, transferring the pirates and weapons to the Quest using a skiff.

He also carried an AK-47 assault rifle to guard the hostages and ordered another pirate to fire the rocket-propelled grenade toward a US Navy vessel attempting the rescue. But Ali, who got two concurrent life terms, said he did not personally shoot or order the shooting of the Americans.

Abdiali admitted that he was involved in piracy for financial gain, and also claimed he did not shoot any of the Americans himself, or order any one else to shoot them.

It is known that immediately after the shooting, a large group of pirates emerged and went to the bow of the Quest with their hands held over their heads.

The pirates who did the actual shooting are expected to come before the court next year, and prosecutors have yet to indicate whether they will ask for the death penalty.

The only cruising sailors known to be in pirates hands currently are the South African sailors Bruno Pelizzaro and his girlfriend Deborah Calitz, who have been in pirate custody for more than a year, after being kidnapped off the African coast in October 2010.

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