Mounir Ali, a/k/a “Muner Ali,” 23, of Yemen, pled guilty in federal court Thursday to acts of piracy against the S/V Quest, which resulted in the murder in February of four American citizens.
Scott and Jean Adam, Phyllis Macay and Robert Riggle were killed after the Adam's yacht was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden. A U.S. negotiating team had tried to secure the release of the captives after several Navy ships tracked the pirates, but while negotiations were “ongoing” the pirates opened fire.
“Eleven Somali pirates have now pled guilty to the armed hijacking of a U.S. vessel in February off the East Africa coast,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Mounir Ali admitted today that his greed for ransom money ultimately led to the cold-blooded murder of the four U.S. hostages. This latest guilty plea again shows that modern piracy is far different than the romantic portrayal in summer-time movies. Pirates who attack on U.S. citizens on the high seas will face justice in a U.S. courtroom.”
“Today’s plea brings us one step closer to the resolution of the Quest’s hijacking and the brutal killing of four Americans. Armed with RPGs and automatic weapons, Ali willingly participated in this premeditated attack to pirate the Quest, in a vain attempt for ransom," said Janice K. Fedarcyk Assistant Director in Charge for the FBI’s New York Field Office.
Ali admitted that he and four other men from Yemen were crew members of a boat that was pirated by Somalis. When the Somali conspirators were in the process of capturing the American yacht, Ali willingly elected to join them in return for a share of the ransom money.