Yemeni pirate pleads guilty to hijacking that killed four US citizens

A Yemeni man pleaded guilty July 7 to acts of piracy for the hijacking of a US vessel that resulted in the deaths of four US citizens. Mounir Ali pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to being involved in the hijacking of a US yacht called Quest, in which four Americans were taken hostage and later killed by the pirates. They were the first US citizens to die in the recent wave of international maritime piracy. Ali admitted that he willingly joined four other men in a pirated Somali ship as they attempted to hijack the US vessel. He noted in his plea agreement that he personally did not shoot any of the hostages nor did he order them be shot. Neil MacBride, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said Ali, “admitted today that his greed for ransom money ultimately led to the cold-blooded murder of the four US hostages. This latest guilty plea again shows that modern piracy is far different than the romantic portrayal in summer-time movies. Pirates who attack on US citizens on the high seas will face justice in a US courtroom.”

In March, a grand jury in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia indicted 14 suspects, 13 Somali and one Yemeni, for hijacking the Quest. They were charged with piracy, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and the use of firearms during a crime. Ali awaits sentencing scheduled for October.

From Jurist, July 6. Used with permission.

See our last posts on Somalia, Yemen and the politics of piracy.

  1. Somali pirates sentenced in US court
    A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Oct. 4 sentenced a pair of Somali men to life in prison for their involvement in the hijacking of a yacht that resulted in the deaths of four US citizens. This followed another pair of pirates’ sentencing the day before. Mohamud Salad Ali, one of the leaders of the expedition, received two life sentences, while Ahmed Sala Ali Burale received one. Both expressed sorrow and stated they had tried to prevent the hostages from being harmed. Five men await sentencing, three of whom have pleaded not guilty.

    Piracy off the coast of Africa continues to be a global concern. In August, a Dutch court sentenced five Somali men to prison terms ranging from four to seven years for acts of maritime piracy. In May, courts in both Spain and South Korea sentenced Somali pirates to life imprisonment. (Jurist, Oct. 5)