Life in Prison for ‘Quest’ Hijackers

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December 16, 2011

Two Somali men have been sentenced to life in prison for their role in the February hijacking of the S/V Quest and subsequent murder of the four Americans on board.  Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali, 32, and Jilani Abdiali, 20, both of Somalia, were handed down the sentence in Norfolk federal court yesterday.  Ali had pled guilty to piracy under the law of nations and hostage taking resulting in death on May 23, 2011 and Abdiali pled guilty to piracy under the law of nations on May 20, 2011.

“As Somali pirates expand their territory, they place more individuals’ lives at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “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. 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 to the court that he was the commander of the pirate ship when it left Somalia but added he did not personally shoot or order the shooting of the four Americans.  Ali received two concurrent terms of life in prison today.

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

In August, two Somali men were sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in the hijacking.  In total, 14 men – 13 Somalis and one Yemeni – were captured by U.S. Navy Seals who stormed the 58-foot Quest four days after it was hijacked.  The men were later indicted on piracy and kidnapping charges.

The owners of the Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death in February several days after being taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman. They were the first Americans to be killed in a wave of piracy that has plagued the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in recent years.

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