NORFOLK, VA—Mohammad Saaili Shibin, a/k/a “Khalif Ahmed Shibin,” a/k/a “Shibin,” the man convicted as the person in Somalia responsible for negotiating the ransom of an American yacht, the S/V Quest, and the Marida Marguerite, a German-owned vessel, was sentenced to 10 concurrent life sentences for piracy, two consecutive life sentences for the use of a rocket-propelled grenade/automatic weapons during crimes of violence, 10 years consecutive on six counts charging discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, and two 20-year sentences for the remaining counts of discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence. Shibin is also required to pay restitution in the amount of approximately $5,408,000.
Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Robert G. Doumar, Sr. Shibin was previously found guilty by a federal jury on April 27, 2012, of all counts of a superseding indictment.
“Mohammed Shibin was a key participant in two of the most heinous acts of piracy in modern memory: last year, his confederates seized the S/V Quest and murdered four defenseless Americans, and in 2010, the crew members of the M/V Marida Marguerite were brutally tortured by Shibin and his pirate conspirators to extract a $5 million reward. The Somalia piracy criminal enterprise could not function without skilled negotiators like Shibin, and his multiple life sentences should put all pirates on notice that the Justice Department will hold you accountable in an U.S. courtroom for crimes on the high seas. Shibin is the 18th Somali pirate my office has convicted.”
According to court documents and trial testimony, as the U.S. military attempted to negotiate the release of four American citizens being held hostage on board the S/V Quest, they were informed by one of the conspirators on the Quest that Shibin was the person responsible for negotiating the return of the hostages upon their arrival in Somalia. Evidence at trial showed that during this period of negotiation, Shibin conducted research on the Internet to learn about the hostages on the Quest and determine the amount of ransom to demand, along with the identity of family members of the hostages whom he could contact about the ransom. But while the military continued its negotiations to secure the hostages’ release, the four hostages were intentionally shot and killed.
Court documents and testimony also proved that Shibin was the ransom negotiator for conspirators who pirated the 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. 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. Crew members of the M/V Marida Marguerite testified that they were brutally tortured while being held hostage.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s New York Field Office and Norfolk Field Office, with assistance from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
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.