By Jim Kouri
A Somali pirate, who acted as the primary negotiator during kidnap-ransom negotiations, was convicted Friday by a federal jury in Norfolk, Virginia, for his involvement in the abduction of Americans onboard a yacht, the S/V Quest. He and his fellow pirates took four U.S. citizens hostage and ultimately killed them before their release could be secured by U.S. special forces.
Mohammad Saaili Shibin, a/k/a “Khalif Ahmed Shibin,” a/k/a “Shibin,” was found guilty of all counts of a superseding indictment which charged him with serving as the ransom negotiator for conspirators. Shibin was also found guilty of all counts relating to the attack on the Quest. A full list of the charges and their penalties are provided below:
- two counts of piracy under the law of nations, which each carry a mandatory penalty of life in prison;
- two counts of conspiracy to commit hostage taking, which each carry a penalty of up to life in prison;
- two counts of hostage taking, which each carry a penalty of up to life in prison;
- two counts of conspiracy to commit violence against maritime navigation, which each carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison;
- two counts of violence against maritime navigation, which each carry a mandatory penalty of up to 20 years in prison;
- conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison;
- kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison;
- three counts of use, carry, and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, the first count of which carries a mandatory minimum 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, and the latter two counts of which carry mandatory consecutive life sentences.
The 50-year old Shibin also participated in the pirating of the M/V Marida Marguerite, a German-owned vessel with a crew of 22 men who were held hostage off the coast of Somalia from May to December 2010, according to court records.
According to court documents and testimony, Shibin spoke with the owners of the Marida Marguerite and successfully extracted a ransom payment for the vessel and its crew. Shibin received approximately $30,000 to $50,000 in U.S. currency as his share of the ransom payment.
Shibin is scheduled to be sentenced on August 13, 2012.
“[Friday’s] verdict marks the conviction of the highest-ranking Somali pirate ever brought to the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride. “Mr. Shibin was convicted as a part of a hijacking that resulted in the summary execution of four Americans. He was among an elite fraternity of pirate negotiators — the vital link to any successful pirate attack. His skills were essential to obtain a ransom for those who attacked the vessel and the financiers who paid for the attack.”