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Somali pirates threaten to murder more hostages after deaths of four Americans

February 23, 2011
the USS Enterprise
Somalia pirates detained after Tuesday’s killings are being held on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. Photograph: Todd Cichonowicz/AP


Pirates in Somalia have said they are ferrying ammunition and men to the 30 hijacked vessels under their control, and threatened to kill more captives following the violent end to a hostage standoff that left four Americans dead.

The US military said that 15 Somali pirates detained after the killings on Tuesday could face trial in the United States. The pirates are being held on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise off East Africa. The FBI is investigating the killings of Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, of Seattle, and Jean and Scott Adam, of Los Angeles, who had made their home aboard their yacht Quest since December 2004.

Pirates hijacked the yacht last Friday and held the four hostage. When a US warship responded to the incident, the hostages were shot and killed.

The Adams handed out bibles during their travels around the world, but a pirate who gave his name only as Hassan said religion had played no part in their death. He said the pirates reacted violently after the US forces blocked the yacht’s path.

“We had plans to either take the hostages to the inland mountains or to move on to other hijacked ships because we knew that the US navy was serious about carrying out a rescue operation,” Hassan said. “The hostages pleaded with us not to harm them or take them to dangerous places. They cried when we captured them … and asked us to release them because they were too old and couldn’t endure captivity.”

The killings came less than a week after a Somali pirate was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison by a New York court for the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama. That hijacking ended when navy sharpshooters killed two pirates holding the ship’s American captain.

Pirates reacted angrily to the sentencing and have since vowed that they will kill hostages before being captured during military raids and sent to face trial.

A pirate in Somalia who gave his name as Adowe Osman Ali said fellow “soldiers” had ferried reinforcements to hijacked ships in their hands in a bid to deter more hostage rescue attempts. He said captains of hijacked ships had been ordered to tell navies not to approach or hostages would be killed.

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