Somali said to be S/V Quest negotiator indicted in further piracy case

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pirateflagMohammad Saaili Shibin, accused of being the negotiator for the ransom of four U.S. citizens held hostage on the high seas aboard the yacht S/V Quest has been indicted for his alleged role in successfully extracting a ransom for a separate vessel and 22 hostages held by Somali pirates.

Mr. Shibin has been in federal custody since being brought to the U.S. following his arrest in Somalia in April.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office; and Alex J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement of the further indictment.

“Mr. Shibin is alleged to be among the select few who are entrusted with one of the most important tasks in Somali piracy – ensuring a ship’s owners pay the maximum amount of ransom possible for the release of a hijacked vessel,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “The ransom paid for the Marida Marguerite capped a year where authorities estimate pirates received more than $100 million in ransom payments. The role he’s accused of fulfilling for pirates on the Marida Marguerite is the same role he allegedly intended to fill for the Quest. This case is aimed at the heart of the piracy business, striking at the small group of men who make receiving millions from piracy a reality.”

“During the seven month ordeal, Mr. Shibin allegedly successfully negotiated a large ransom for the release of twenty-two crew abroad the Marida Marguerite,” said FBI ADIC Fedarcyk. “The negotiator has the most important job in the piracy business, extorting the most money possible for the ship and crew.  As pirates operate during this period of instability in Somalia, the FBI will continue to apprehend all those involved, from Puntland villages to the Arabian Sea.”

Mohammad Saaili Shibin, a/k/a “Khalif Ahmed Shibin,” a/k/a “Shibin,” 50, of Somalia, was indicted on March 8, 2011, by a federal grand jury in Newport News, Va., in association with the alleged pirating of an American yacht, the S/V Quest, and taking hostage four U.S. citizens, who were ultimately killed before their release could be secured.

Today, Shibin was charged in a 15-count superseding indictment accusing him of serving as the ransom negotiator for conspirators who pirated the M/V Marida Marguerite, a German-owned vessel with a crew of 22 men who were held hostage off the coast of Somalia from May to December 2010. According to the indictment, Shibin spoke with the owners of the Marida Marguerite and successfully extracted a ransom payment for the vessel and its crew. The indictment states that Shibin received approximately $30,000 to $50,000 in U.S. currency as his share of the ransom payment.

Shibin was also charged with additional counts related to the attack on the Quest. A full list of the charges included in the superseding indictment and their penalties are provided below:

  • Two counts of piracy under the law of nations, which each carry a mandatory penalty of life in prison.
  • Two counts of conspiracy to commit hostage taking, which each carry a penalty of up to life in prison.
  • Two counts of hostage taking, which each carry a penalty of up to life in prison.
  • Two counts of conspiracy to commit violence against maritime navigation, which each carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
  • Two counts of violence against maritime navigation, which each carry a mandatory penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
  • Conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
  • Kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
  • Three counts of use, carry, and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, the first count of which carries a mandatory minimum 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, and the latter two counts of which carry mandatory consecutive life sentences.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s New York Field Office and Norfolk Field Office, with assistance from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. In addition, U.S. Attorney MacBride expressed his appreciation for the close coordination and cooperation of German judicial and police authorities in building the latest charges involving the Marida Marguerite.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin L. Hatch, Joseph E. DePadilla, and Brian J. Samuels from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Paul Casey of the Counterterrorism Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

August 22, 2011

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