NORFOLK, VA—Mohammad Saaili Shibin, a/k/a “Khalif Ahmed Shibin,” a/k/a “Shibin,” 50, of Somalia, was convicted today by a federal jury in Norfolk for his involvement in the 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 and of the pirating of the M/V Marida Marguerite.
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 John Boles, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement. Shibin is scheduled to be sentenced on August 13, 2012.
“Today’s verdict marks the conviction of the highest-ranking Somali pirate ever brought to the United States,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Mr. Shibin was convicted as a part of a hijacking that resulted in the summary execution of four Americans. He was among an elite fraternity of pirate negotiators—the vital link to any successful pirate attack. His skills were essential to obtain a ransom for those who attacked the vessel and the financiers who paid for the attack.”
“Mr. Shibin’s actions resulted in the cold blooded execution of four Americans aboard their own yacht, a form of terrorism on the high seas,” said FBI ADIC Fedarcyk. “Today’s verdict should send a clear message to pirate negotiators and financiers alike, no matter what your role—in a pirate skiff or demanding ransom from the shores of Somalia—you are not beyond the reach of American justice.”
Shibin was found guilty of all counts of a superseding indictment which charged him with 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 court documents and testimony, Shibin spoke with the owners of the Marida Marguerite and successfully extracted a ransom payment for the vessel and its crew. Shibin received approximately $30,000 to $50,000 in U.S. currency as his share of the ransom payment.
Shibin was also found guilty of all counts relating to the attack on the Quest. A full list of the charges 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.