Pirate Attack Resulted in Murder of Four U.S. Citizens
NORFOLK, VA—Muhidin Salad Omar, a/k/a “Muhiyaden Salad,” a/k/a “Gurdan,” a/k/a “Gardan,” a/k/a “Gurden,” a/k/a “Muhdin,” a/k/a “Dudan,” 30, and Ahmed Sala Ali Burale, a/k/a “Ahmed Salah Ali,” a/k/a “Ahmed Hindi,” a/k/a “Ahmed Salah Ali Burle,” 22, both of Somalia, pled guilty today in Norfolk federal court to acts of piracy against the S/V Quest, which resulted in the murder of United States citizens Scott Underwood Adam, Jean Savage Adam, Phyllis Patricia Macay, and Robert Campbell Riggle.
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; Alex J. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; and Mark Russ, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) in Norfolk, made the announcement after the pleas were accepted by United States District Judge Mark S. Davis.
“Today, Burale and Omar admitted they became pirates of their own free will and that their co-conspirators gunned down the four American hostages while others were attempting to negotiate with the U.S. military,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “These men and others have learned that pirating an American vessel is a dangerous business with serious, long-term consequences.”
“Armed to the teeth, Omar and Burale, along with the other pirates, took part in the captivity of the sailing vessel Quest with the mission of taking hostages for ransom. As the criminal justice system continues to process all those involved, including the pleas entered today, the FBI remains committed to bringing justice to those who seek to harm U.S. citizens both domestically and abroad.”
Both pled guilty today to piracy under the law of nations, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
According to court documents, Omar admitted that he was approached to participate in piracy operations because they needed a driver for the skiff and that he went to the American warship to try and save things, hoping that the American forces would pull back and allow them to reach Somali waters. He told the court that the American commander informed the pirates that the U.S. government does not pay money, but if they sent over the hostages on the skiff, they could take the Quest. He admitted that he knew the pirates had committed a crime against the United States because they held the hostages.
Burale admitted that he joined the group of pirates for the sole purpose of making money and that he had carried an AK-47 without a stock. He also admitted that when the shooting started, he rushed to try to stop it by grabbing a shooter’s rifle and pushing the barrel upward to immobilize the shooter.
Omar and Burale admitted that they willingly engaged in piracy for financial gain and participated in the pirating of the Quest and in the taking of the four Americans on board as hostages. The two defendants warranted in their plea agreements that they did not personally shoot any of the four Americans, nor did they instruct any other person to shoot the hostages.
Sentencing for Muhidin Salad Omar is scheduled for October 3, 2011, and sentencing for Ahmed Sala Ali Burale is scheduled for September 21, 2011.
The investigation of the case is being conducted by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
The prosecution in the Eastern District of Virginia is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin L. Hatch, Joseph DePadilla and Brian J. Samuels, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Trial Attorney Paul Casey from the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.