Manhattan Judge Sentences Somali Pirate To More Than 33 Years

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Manhattan judge sentenced Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse to more than 33 years in prison for being a modern-day pirate.

In handing down the sentence, Federal Judge Loretta Preska pointed to the need for a strong message of deterrence. Preska sometimes became choked up as she described the harm Muse brought to the crew aboard a merchant ship in the Indian Ocean.

She ordered Muse to serve 33 years and nine months in prison, rejecting a plea for leniency by his defense lawyers.

Before he was sentenced, Muse said he was “very sorry for what I did.”
“I got my hands into something that was more powerful than me,” Muse said through a translator.

The U.S. government said Muse had an old-school sadistic streak. While terrorizing merchant ships on the Indian Ocean, Muse regularly aimed “his gun at the head of a hostage and pulled the trigger, laughing when the gun did not fire,” federal prosecutors wrote in court papers. “Muse derived joy from the suffering of victims.”

Preska rejected Muse’s attempts to minimize or explain away his involvement and she noted that prosecutors had described the pirates as experienced, coordinated and ruthless. “They appeared to relish even their most depraved acts of physical and psychological violence,” she said, noting that the pirates had conducted a mock execution of the captain during the several days they held hostage.

Before the sentence was announced, 44-year-old crew member Colin Wright told the judge he was “not the same person I used to be and I never will be.” He complained that security still has not been improved much for ships traveling near Somalia.
“I’d like to see something done about that,” he said.

Muse’s involvement in a brazen high-seas attack on a U.S.-flagged vessel and the dramatic rescue of the ship’s kidnapped captain in 2009 made him an instant symbol of a 21st-century brand of piracy targeting shipping routes off the coast of Africa — and of stepped-up efforts to punish offenders through 19th-century maritime laws.

Do you think Muse should get the maximum sentence? Let us know below!

Late last year, a Virginia jury found five other Somali men guilty of exchanging gunfire with a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of Africa. Scholars called it the first piracy case to go to trial since 1861 during the Civil War, when a New York jury deadlocked on charges against 13 Southern privateers.

Aside from the novelty of his case, Muse became a curiosity because he defied swashbuckler stereotypes: The boyish, 5-foot-2 defendant has often looked bewildered in court and sometimes wept. Following his capture, his lawyers insisted he was 15 and should be tried as a juvenile; prosecutors convinced a judge he was at least 18.

In a guilty plea last year, Muse told a judge he was “very, very sorry about what we did.”

Prosecutors branded Muse the ringleader of a band of armed pirates who commandeered at least three ships and kidnapped dozens of sailors. The last attack was on the Maersk Alabama on April 8, 2009, as it transported humanitarian supplies about 280 miles off the coast of Somalia, an impoverished East African nation of about 10 million people.

Muse was the first to board the 500-foot ship, firing his AK-47 assault rifle at the captain, Richard Phillips, prosecutors said. He ordered Phillips, of Underhill, Vt., to halt the vessel and then held him hostage for several days on a sweltering, enclosed lifeboat that was soon shadowed by three U.S. warships and a helicopter.

The English-speaking Muse taunted Phillips by threatening to “bury him in a shallow area of the ocean” and by telling his captive he “liked having hijacked an American ship and wanted to kill Americans,” the government’s court papers said.

The siege ended when Navy sharpshooters on the USS Bainbridge picked off the three pirates in a stunning nighttime operation, leaving Phillips untouched.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


One Comment

  1. MDRW says:

    I’m thinking we should have hanged him. A B52 Strike on Somalia might solve the problem until the roaches start coming out of the cracks again and breeding.

  2. marcus says:

    It should have bee 333 years that way no pirate..

  3. Double-R says:

    What kills me about this whole thing is that the crew on these boats that make trips around those areas are not permitted to carry fierarms.

    Read a story like this and you’ll see something really wrong with that picture.

  4. MIC says:


  5. frank says:

    AWESOME!!! Got what he deserves, well a bullet to his head would have been better!! Saved me some of my tax money.

  6. David Goldstein says:

    He brought shame to B1ack History Month and dishonor to MLK.

  7. Joshua says:

    If he is only 15 y.o. he should serve 33 years that way he will be 48 when he gets out.

  8. Kris says:

    He wanted to live like a pirate, he should die like one…. FISH FOOD!

  9. Aaaaaaaaaargh! says:

    He should be hung by his b@lls in Somalia and his corpse then paraded through the pirate-controlled coastal towns there.

  10. Aaaaaaaaaargh! says:

    He should be hung by his b@lls in Somalia, and be paraded through the pirate-controlled coastal towns there.

  11. John says:

    Send his cute little ass to Rikers Island in NY. he will wish he was never born. 34 years of HARD time will do it.

  12. z z zodiac says:

    shiver me timbers

  13. John B says:

    They should grant him his wish of being a Pirate and chop off his hand and give him a hook, chop off a leg and give him a wooden one, pop out an eye and put a patch over it, wrap a bandana around his head, slap a parrot on his shoulder and send him back to Somalia and see how much he enjoys it. It will save us 33 years of Taxpayer $$.

  14. Long John Silver says:

    Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?

    Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum !!

  15. Heather Cronan says:

    Muse tried to kill my husband (3AE, Maersk Alabama). I am very sorry he grew up in horrid conditions and pray for the people of Somalia daily. BUT my sympathy for him personally ended the moment he first fired an automatic weapon at my husband and his shipmates. Here’s hoping for the full 34 years.

  16. jtorres says:

    He had a rough upbringing – poverty and hunger and desperation. Gee, my heart bleeds. None of that excuses what he did. Why aren’t all the citizens of Somalia pirates and thieves and murderers? Beause they know it’s wrong. He was bewildered and wept in court because he can’t believe he was caught and now has to pay for what he did. I have a hard time drumming up any sympathy for this sadistic reptile. He should be thrown in a maximum security prison and they should throw away the key. Period.

    1. akhdulha says:

      There will still be plenty of time for him to pursue a career as a NYC taxi cab driver once he is released from the clink.

  17. Dan Te says:

    When I was a young child I always wanted to be a pirate…..I still have dreams of becoming one.

    1. Nick says:

      Looks like poor Nathan here at CBS has a hard on for DanTe. Just can’t help imitating or mention DanTe. Does this qualify under Stalker Laws?

    2. DanTe says:

      Nathan? Ha! Nathan is just a hot dog!

  18. Captain Ahab says:

    “he also had an old-school sadistic streak.”

    So, let him have an old-school punishment. Hanging or walking the plank (as stated by DanTe below) does seem to be an appropriate remedy!

    No, this type of punishment should not apply to all crimes. But, one who is living the life of a hearty pirate should die like one. Arrrrrggghhh.

  19. BIGAl says:

    Dear Dan:

    Insulting individuals that have different opinions ireflect poorly on you and more importantly does cause violence.

  20. Senam Humado says:

    Some how Abduhl Wal-i-Musi would prefer to be in American prison than his own country. I’m sure due to the poverty in his country he will love the U.S. prison more than his country.

  21. Senam Humado says:

    No he is doing that out of hunger. His bosses must be held responsible. Those who are selling the arms to them must also be accountable. We must deal with the issue not only on the surface but deep down. I know you can do it better.

  22. Scott Stevens says:

    should have dropped him off at sea now we have to feed and take care of him on taxpayers money when will we learn

  23. DanTe says:

    Why are we spending all these tax dollars on a “trial”? Just do what the high seas laws allow in cases of piracy: HANGING or Walk The Plank on the spot. Now the stupid libs are making a martyr out of it.

Comments are closed.

More From CBS New York

Get Our Morning Briefs

Watch & Listen LIVE