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Pirate Negotiator Captured by Feds

According to a Wall Street Journal report yesterday, the U.S. has taken a bold step in combating Somali piracy. Earlier this month, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents entered Somali territory and, with cooperation from local government authorities, tracked down and arrested Mohammad Shibin, 50, a key player in the kidnapping saga of American cruisers Scott and Jean Adam of the Marina del Rey-based Davidson 58 Quest, and their guests Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle of Seattle. As reported earlier, the entire crew was killed by their captors while their boat was being shadowed by a U.S. warship.

Scott and Jean Adam, owners of Quest, and crew Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle were killed by Somali pirates in February.

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Shibin allegedly oversaw ransom negotiations for the Quest crew and others, for which he earned substantial commissions. Previous to his arrest, he had been indicted in a U.S. court on three counts, including piracy and conspiracy to commit kidnapping. If convicted he could face life in prison.

The FBI’s unprecedented step of venturing onto Somali soil was taken with the backing of two 2008 U.N. Security Council resolutions that authorized nations to take "all necessary and appropriate measures" to combat piracy in Somalia.

U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride was quoted as saying, "The arrest of Mohammad Shibin is a significant breakthrough in the United States’ battle against Somali pirates. We hope this indictment will strike at the heart of the piracy business and send a strong message to all pirates, whether they board the ships or remain on shore in Somalia."

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