FBI doggedly tracked Somali pirate boss in Quest murders

By: Mark Rockwell

The man who was the chief negotiator for a group of Somali pirates who kidnapped and ultimately killed four U.S. citizens in attacks in the Gulf of Aden was tracked and finally arrested by members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team.

The Somali pirate, Mohammad Saaili Shibin, was sentenced last August in a federal courtroom in Norfolk, VA, to 10 life terms for his role in the hijacking of the S/V Quest and a German-owned vessel in 2011. Multiple other Somali pirates involved in the case have since pled guilty to piracy and murder and received life terms in U.S. prison.

Even though Shibin was on land when the Quest was hijacked, prosecutors called him a pivotal participant in the violent and deadly hijackings. While the U.S. military negotiated with the pirates onboard the Quest to secure the hostages’ release, the four hostages were intentionally shot and killed.

“Shibin was a key participant because he was responsible for negotiating the ransom of the Quest,” said the FBI in a review of the case posted March 27 on its Web site. According to the FBI, information gathered by its agents and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in the case showed that during negotiations between the hijackers and the U.S. government, Shibin was in Somalia conducting research on the Internet to learn about the Quest hostages and to determine the amount of ransom to demand.

Shibin was indicted, but the FBI said he fled his home in Somalia to evade authorities. “Over the course of a month-and-a-half, we chased him all over East Africa,” one HRT operator said. “With our military partners, we tracked him using every available resource.”

Eventually, with host-country permission, the FBI said Shibin was arrested in Somalia by two HRT operators, with assistance from a third, and brought to the U.S. to face trial.

“HRT operators possess the tactical skills that allow them to integrate with entities like the Department of Defense when there is a crime scene in a non-permissive environment,” said one of the operators who responded to the Quest hijacking.

Source: http://www.gsnmagazine.com

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