SY Quest incident
Part of Piracy in Somalia, Operation Ocean Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa
Date4–22 February 2011
Location
off Oman, Indian Ocean
Result

American victory;

  • Yacht recaptured
  • Capture and arrest of pirates
  • Hostages killed by pirates
Belligerents
 United States Somali pirates
Commanders and leaders
United States Dee Mewbourne Mohamud Salad Ali[1]
Strength
1 supercarrier
1 cruiser
2 destroyers
1 yacht
Casualties and losses
None 4 killed
15 captured
1 yacht captured
Civilian casualties: 4 killed

The SY Quest incident[2] occurred in February 2011 when Somali pirates seized the American yacht SY Quest (s/v Quest) and four United States citizens. The United States Navy ordered the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and three other ships to free the hostages. All four hostages were shot by their captors.

The SY Quest was the first U.S. vessel captured by Somali pirates since the Maersk Alabama in 2009.[3]

Incident

According to American reports, the SY Quest was captured on 18 February 2011 at 13.23 UTC by nineteen pirates in a mothership, 190 to 240 miles off the coast of Oman around 18°00′N 61°02′E / 18.000°N 61.033°E / 18.000; 61.033 in the Indian Ocean.[3][4] Pirates then tried sailing the SY Quest towards Puntland. Sometime thereafter the Enterprise, the guided missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the guided missile destroyers USS Sterett and USS Bulkeley were sent to the area; they arrived several days later on or about 21 February. Captain Dee Mewbourne, of the Enterprise, opened negotiations with the pirates, at which time two Somalis went aboard the Sterett. As negotiations continued the following morning, 22 February, a pirate aboard the SY Quest fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the Sterett from 600 yards away but it missed. Almost immediately afterward, gunfire was heard aboard the yacht, so a boarding party was sent in on a raft and they boarded the SY Quest. In a brief skirmish that followed, two pirates were killed, one by rifle fire and the other by a combat knife. Thirteen pirates surrendered and were taken into custody.

Navy officials said all four hostages were shot by their captors: Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle, of Seattle, Washington, and the SY Quest's owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, California.[3][5]

The bodies of two other pirates were also found aboard the SY Quest though United States Navy officials had no explanation for their deaths. A few days later, Vice Admiral Mark I. Fox, said the Americans had no intention of attacking but were obligated after hearing small-arms fire.

The pirate leader Mohamud, in Somalia, claimed that the hostages were killed because the American warships started to attack and he told Reuters that "we ordered our comrades to kill the four Americans before they got killed." The leader Farah, in Bayla, Puntland, told Reuters, "I lost the money I invested and my comrades. No forgiveness for the Americans. Revenge. Our business will go on". He said he had spent $110,000 on food, weapons, and salaries for the hijacking.

Thirteen of the pirates were found to be Somalis and the other a Yemeni; they were sent to Norfolk, Virginia to face charges of piracy and kidnapping.[3][6]

USS Leyte Gulf alongside USS Enterprise while conducting flight operations in the Red Sea on 3 March 2011.
USS Leyte Gulf alongside USS Enterprise while conducting flight operations in the Red Sea on 3 March 2011.

Incarceration

On 8 July 2013 Ahmed Muse Salad, a/k/a "Afmagalo", 27, Abukar Osman Beyle, 33, and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar, 31–those who actually killed the 4 hostages–were found guilty of piracy, murder within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, violence against maritime navigation, conspiracy to commit violence against maritime navigation resulting in death, kidnapping resulting in death, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, hostage taking resulting in death, conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in death and multiple firearms offenses.[7] All three were sentenced in November 2013 and all received 21 life sentences, 19 consecutive life sentences and 2 concurrent life sentences, and 30 years consecutive.[7]

According to U.S. federal law, committing an act of piracy resulting in death has a mandatory life sentence.[8]

14 men were prosecuted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for taking part in seizing of Quest. Federal prosecutors sought the death penalty for Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle, and Shani Nurani Abrar. All the defendants names, BOP Numbers, sentences and places of incarceration are listed below:

Inmate name Register number Status Incarcerated at Reference
Mahdi Jama Mohamed 77985-083 Scheduled for release on January 13, 2042 USP Coleman I [9]
Mounir Ali 77986-083 Scheduled for release on July 23, 2032 FCI Lompoc [10]
Abukar Osman Beyle 77988-083 Serving a life sentence USP Tucson [11]
Jilani Abdali 77989-083 Scheduled for release on February 18, 2037 USP McCreary
Ahmed Muse Salad 77991-083 Serving a life sentence USP Victorville [12]
Mohamud Salad Ali 77992-083 Serving a life sentence USP Thomson [13]
Shani Nurani Abrar 77993-083 Serving a life sentence USP Terre Haute [14]
Said Abdi Fooley 77994-083 Serving a life sentence USP Beaumont [15]
Muhidin Salad Omar 77995-083 Serving a life sentence USP Coleman II [16]
Ahmed Sala Ali Burale 77996-083 Scheduled for release on December 19, 2040 FCI Yazoo City Medium [17]
Ali Abdi Mohamed 77997-083 Scheduled for release on February 27, 2041 USP Lompoc [18]
Mohamud Hirs Issa Ali 77998-083 Scheduled for release on September 15, 2036 FCI Beaumont Low [19]
Burhan Abdirahm Yusuf 77999-083 Scheduled for release on October 28, 2036 FCI Yazoo City Medium
Abdi Jama Aqid 78000-083 Serving a life sentence USP Atwater [20]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Somali Pirate Leader Gets Life in Prison for Yacht Hijacking". Fox News. 4 October 2011.
  2. ^ "Quest incident – the final moments". Sail-World.com. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d "4 American hostages killed by Somali pirates". World news-Africa-Somalia. NBC News. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Blue Water Rally Yacht and four crew seajacked in the Indian Ocean". Sail-World.com. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Americans slain by captors on hijacked yacht; pirates killed, arrested". CNN. 22 February 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  6. ^ "14 pirates indicted in Virginia for deadly attack on Americans". Myfoxboston.com. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Somali Pirates Sentenced To Multiple Life Sentences in Murder of Four Americans Aboard SV QUEST" (Press release). Justice.gov. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  8. ^ Nasaw, Daniel. "Somali pirates face hard time in US prison." BBC. 3 October 2011. Retrieved on 6 February 2016.
  9. ^ "Somali pirates get life in jail". BBC News. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  10. ^ "Yemeni Pleads Guilty to Charges Relating to Piracy of Quest". FBI. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  11. ^ "Somali Pirates Sentenced To Multiple Life Sentences In Murder Of Four Americans Aboard SV QUEST". www.justice.gov. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  12. ^ "Somali Pirates Sentenced To Multiple Life Sentences In Murder Of Four Americans Aboard SV QUEST". www.justice.gov. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  13. ^ Group, Sinclair Broadcast (4 October 2011). "Mohamud Salad Ali gets life in prison". WJLA. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  14. ^ "Somali Pirates Sentenced To Multiple Life Sentences In Murder Of Four Americans Aboard SV QUEST". www.justice.gov. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  15. ^ "Somali man gets life sentence for yacht hijacking". HeraldNet.com. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  16. ^ "Two Somalis Sentenced to Life in Prison for Acts of Piracy Against the S/V Quest". FBI. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  17. ^ "Two More Somalis Sentenced for Acts of Piracy". FBI. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  18. ^ "Three Somalis plead guilty in piracy that led to Americans' deaths". www.cnn.com. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  19. ^ "Three Somalis plead guilty in piracy that led to Americans' deaths". www.cnn.com. Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  20. ^ "Two more Somali pirates plead guilty in US court". The Globe and Mail. 24 May 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2022.

10. "Hunter Killer". Novel by Lt-Col McCurley and Kevin Maurer