Saturday, May 21, 2011

Piracy: Three Somalis Plead Guilty to Charges Relating to Piracy of Quest

United States Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali, a/k/a Sanadaaq, 32; Mohamud Salad Ali, a/k/a Juguuf, 35; and Ali Abdi Mohamed, a/k/a Basher, 30, all of Somalia, pled guilty today in Norfolk federal court to acts of piracy and hostage-taking against the S/V Quest, which resulted in the murder of United States citizens Scott Underwood Adam, Jean Savage Adam, Phyllis Patricia Macay, and Robert Campbell Riggle.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office; Alex J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; and Mark Russ, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in Norfolk, made the announcement after the pleas were accepted by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis.

“These men have admitted to pirating an American yacht and holding four U.S. citizens hostage at gunpoint for ransom. Tragically, their piracy led to the execution of the four American hostages,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Piracy is big business in Somalia, and today pirates got another reminder of the tremendous cost of participating in this criminal venture. If you pirate an American ship, you will be caught and you’ll face severe consequences in an American courtroom.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk stated: “Today’s pleas are a crucial step in the judicial process. Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali and Mohamud Salad Ali, the leaders of these violent pirates, were armed hijackers who directed their subordinates to take hostages and seize the Quest, resulting in the death of four innocent Americans. Ali Abdi Mohamed fired a rocket propelled grenade at a U.S. Navy vessel. Modern piracy isn’t swordplay and derring-do; it’s armed robbery and cold-blooded murder at sea. The FBI remains determined to see pirates brought to justice.”

Today, Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali and Mohamud Salad Ali, both of whom acknowledged in connection with their pleas that they served as leaders of the piracy operation, pled guilty to piracy under the law of nations and hostage-taking resulting in death. The charges each carry a mandatory life sentence.

Ali Abdi Mohamed, who acknowledged in connection with his plea that he fired a rocket propelled grenade in the course of the crime, pled guilty to piracy under the law of nations. The charge carries a mandatory life sentence.

All three defendants warranted in their plea agreements that they played no role in the murder of the four United States citizens.

Sentencing for Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali is scheduled for September 6, 2011. Mohamud Salad Ali is scheduled to be sentenced on August 18, 2011, and sentencing for Ali Abdi Mohamed is scheduled for August 22, 2011.

The investigation of the case is being conducted by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The prosecution in the Eastern District of Virginia is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin L. Hatch, Joseph DePadilla, and Brian J. Samuels, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Trial Attorney Paul Casey from the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.