Accused Somali Pirates Arraigned on Hostage-Taking

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – Two accused Somali pirates were arraigned in Brooklyn Wednesday on terrorism charges alleging they kidnapped and held a U.S. citizen hostage between January 2012 and September 2014. 

Mohamed Tahlil Mohamed and Abdi Yusuf Hassan are being held without bail. In an Oct. 9 superseding indictment, prosecutors added firearms charges as well as hostage-taking conspiracy and threatening a U.S. national with a weapon of mass destruction.

Short on specifics, the charging papers do not name the hostage, but California-bred journalist Michael Scott Moore confirmed to The New York Times that he was the victim when the first indictment in the case, against Tahlil, came down in 2018.

Moore was kidnapped on Jan. 21, 2012, in Galkayo, Somalia, and released Sept. 22, 2014. He wrote a book about his captivity called “The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast,” in which he described Tahlil as the “boss” of his captors, according to The Times. 

Moore’s mother negotiated a $1.6 million ransom payment to gain his freedom, Moore has said — down from the $20 million the pirates initially demanded. The count for hostage-taking conspiracy says the defendants threatened to kill, injure and hold Doe hostage until a third person and governmental entity paid in U.S. dollars for his release. 

Moore is a U.S. and German citizen, matching the indictment’s description of the hostage as a dual citizen.

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