Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Pirate Negotiator



By Caitlin Dickson/TheDailyBeast.com

Ali Mohamed Ali faces life in prison on piracy-related charges. But is he a criminal mastermind or a Good Samaritan? The truth is likely something in between.
Ali Mohamed Ali never considered himself a criminal, let alone a pirate. He was well-educated. He spoke English. He may have asked his friends in America to send the occasional loan while he lived in Somalia, but he didn’t need to steal or hold innocent people hostage to earn money.

...Ali was not what one would typically call a pirate. He never wielded a gun or captured a ship. But on November 9, 2008, he boarded the CEC Future, a Danish cargo vessel that had been seized by Somali pirates while sailing in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen. Since he was fluent in English, Ali had been recruited by pirates to negotiate a ransom with the hijacked ship’s owner. After 71 days, the company that owned the CEC Future agreed to pay $1.7 million for the release of 13 hostages—including the captain, who was on his maiden voyage—and the ship’s freedom.

Ali doesn’t dispute these facts. But he says he’s not a pirate conspirator, simply a man trying to do his civic—and particularly Somali—duty to help those in need. If no ransom were paid, he says, the hostages might have been killed. The U.S. government, on the other hand, says his motives were purely material. The government says that even after the $1.7 million ransom had been agreed upon, Ali delayed the release of the hostages to negotiate a separate $75,000 for himself. Ali says that money wasn’t for him, but for two higher-level pirates who demanded extra ransom for themselves. Requests for comment from prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office for this story were denied.

Read the full article [HERE]. 
*Update: 

Somali man found not guilty of piracy in 2008 ship hijack


A federal jury Tuesday found a Somali man who acted as a negotiator for pirates aboard a hijacked ship not guilty of piracy, but had not yet reached a verdict on two lesser charges.
Ali Mohamed Ali, 51, who would have faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted of piracy, smiled and embraced one of his lawyers after the verdict was announced. He then removed his glasses and dabbed his eyes. A friend in the courtroom sobbed. Ali has been held in a DC jail for more than two and a half years.
Read more [HERE].



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