Somali Pirates Get Life Sentences

photoMuhidin Salad Omar, a/k/a “Muhiyaden Salad,” a/k/a “Gurdan,” a/k/a “Gardan,” a/k/a “Gurden,” a/k/a “Muhdin,” a/k/a “Dudan,” 30; and Mahdi Jama Mohamed, a/k/a “Mahdi,” age estimated to be 23 to 24, both of Somalia, were sentenced yesterday in Norfolk federal court for acts of piracy 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.

Omar previously pled guilty on May 25, 2011 and Mohamed on pled guilty on May 26, 2011 to piracy under the law of nations.

“Somali piracy is a scourge on the world stage, and it continues to grow more widespread and more violent,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Armed attacks on the high seas carry a very real threat of death to those taken hostage, a threat that was tragically made evident in this case. That threat remains for hundreds of hostages held hostage in Somalia, and a life sentence sends a strong message to anyone who chooses to engage in piracy against U.S. interests that they will face severe consequences.”

“Today’s sentencings should serve as yet another example, in the litany that already exists, of what happens to those who pirate our ships and participate in the killing of Americans. Muhidin Salad Omar and Mahdi Jama Mohamed will spend the rest of their lives behind bars, far away from the high seas they terrorized,” said Assistant Director in Charge Janice K. Fedarcyk.

Needed a driver

According to court documents, Omar admitted that he was approached to participate in piracy operations because they needed a driver for the skiff and that he went to the American warship to try and save things, hoping that the American forces would pull back and allow them to reach Somali waters. He told the court that the American commander informed the pirates that the U.S. government does not pay money, but if they sent over the hostages on the skiff, they could take the Quest. He admitted that he knew the pirates had committed a crime against the United States because they held the hostages.

Omar admitted that he willingly engaged in piracy for financial gain and participated in the pirating of the Quest and in the taking of the four Americans on board as hostages. However, he warranted in his plea agreement that he did not personally shoot any of the four Americans, nor did they instruct any other person to shoot the hostages.

Mohamed admitted he requested to join the pirates before the pirates left Somalia to look for a vessel to hijack. He also admitted to holding a rifle while aboard the Quest when he was on guard duty with the hostages. However, he also warranted in his plea agreement that he did not personally shoot any of the four Americans, nor did he instruct any other person to shoot the hostages.

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

 

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.