Friday, February 18, 2011

Americans hijacked by pirates

As has been reported tonight (see here, here here and elsewhere), a number of American yachters have been taken hostage by pirates in the Indian Ocean. The sailing vessel Quest, owned by Jean and Scott Adam, was reportedly seized Friday afternoon while sailing 240 nautical miles off Oman. We can likely watch a growing media reaction to this hijacking, owing to the hostages being American.

Which is both good and bad.

The good - such as it is - is that the media and the public will remember that maritime piracy is a problem that affects all of us, not just off the coast of Somalia. This is something that does impact on North Americans.

The bad is that this will forget the plight of the almost 800 individuals currently being held hostage by Somali captors, including a South African couple captured while aboard their sailboat four months ago.

Those aboard the S/V Quest deserve as much attention as all the other mariners currently being held in atrocious conditions. Please do not forget them - all of them; they have no one else but all of us to pressure international community to free them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Somali man sentenced in Manhattan court

Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse, the sole survivor of the April 2009 Maersk Alabama incident, was sentenced this afternoon to 33 years and nine months in prison for his role in that pirate attack. This was the maximum sentence; Muse's lawyers had asked for the minimum-allowable sentence, 27 years, but Judge Loretta Preska declined the request.

The Somali man reportedly told the court today, "I'm very sorry for what I did. I got my hands into something that was more powerful than me."

Muse plead guilty last year to charges of hijacking, kidnapping and hostage-taking. He did not plead guilty to any piracy charges, nor was he convicted of piracy charges, unlike what some media are reporting (see the BBC here). While he may be a pirate in the eyes of many, he is a convicted kidnapper and hijacker in the eyes of justice.