A Somali man — who has already been charged with being a ransom negotiator in the hijacking of an American yacht that ended in the deaths of four U.S. citizens — has been indicted for his role in the pirating of a German vessel, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
Mohammad Saaili Shibin, 50, was charged Wednesday in a 15-count superseding indictment charging him with serving as a ransom negotiator for pirates who captured the M/V Marida Marguerite, a German-owned ship with 22 crewmembers.
The men were held hostage off the coast of Somalia from May to December of last year, authorities said.
According to the indictment filed in federal court in Norfolk, Shibin successfully negotiated a ransom from the ship’s owners for the release of the ship and crew. He received between $30,000 and $50,000, the indictment alleges.
Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said that prosecuting Shibin was important because he was one of the “few top pirate negotiators in Somalia.”
“This guy is the key to the economic model of the Somalis piracy business,” MacBride added. “We are aware of only a handful of individuals at this level.”
Shibin, who was captured by FBI agents and U.S. military personnel in April, was previously charged with being the ransom negotiator in the pirating of an American yacht, the S/V Quest, in February. Four Americans were taken hostage in that pirating, according to authorities. All four — Scott and Jean Adam of Los Angeles, and Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle — were killed.
U.S. authorities have arrested and charged at least 26 Somali men with pirating of vessels. Most of those alleged pirates are being prosecuted in federal court in Norfolk.
This item has been updated since it was first published.