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Somali man found guilty of piracy and hostage-taking

By Carol Cratty, CNN
April 27, 2012 -- Updated 2306 GMT (0706 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mohammad Saaili Shibin negotiated ransoms in two boat seizures
  • He is the highest-ranking Somali pirate brought to U.S., prosecutor says
  • Shibin will be sentenced in August

Washington (CNN) -- A Somali pirate was convicted Friday for his role in last year's seizure of the U.S. yacht Quest and the hostage-taking of the four Americans aboard who were killed during their ordeal.

Mohammad Saaili Shibin worked from the Somali mainland and his job was to negotiate ransoms. He was not charged with the actual murders of Scott and Jean Adam, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, who were fatally shot aboard the Quest in February 2011. But he was found guilty of numerous charges including kidnapping, hostage-taking, piracy and conspiracy.

"Today's verdict marks the conviction of the highest-ranking Somali pirate ever brought to the United States," said Neil MacBride, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "Mr. Shibin was convicted as 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."

Law enforcement officials said the FBI worked with Somali forces on the ground to capture Shibin on April 4, 2011.

Shibin also was found guilty of piracy and hostage-taking of the German-owned vessel Marida Marguerite. The ship's crew of 22 men was held captive off the coast of Somalia from May until December 2010. Shibin negotiated the ransom for that vessel and received a share of at least $30,000, according to prosecutors.

"Today's verdict should send a clear message to pirate negotiators and financiers alike, no matter what your role -- in a pirate skiff or demanding a ransom from the shores of Somalia -- you are not beyond the reach of American justice," said Janice Fedarcyk, FBI assistant director for the New York Field Office.

Shibin, who is believed to be in his early 50s, is scheduled to be sentenced in Norfolk, Virginia, on August 13. Several of the charges he was convicted of carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

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