The convicted pirate described a massacre.
From the witness stand Wednesday, Jilani Abdiali recounted how he walked out of a 58-foot sailboat’s second bedroom on Feb. 18, 2011, to see three of his compatriots opening fire on their four hostages.
One of the men – Ahmed Muse Salad – wasn’t even trying to aim, he said.
“He was shooting at the captain and whoever was beside him,” Abdiali said through an interpreter, explaining how Salad fatally wounded two other pirates in the process.
“He was not shooting just one-by-one. He was spraying,” the Somali man added. “I was scared. I didn’t know where the next bullet was going to come from.”
Four Americans and two pirates were killed in the melee off the coast of Africa. Two other pirates died as Navy SEALs raided the Quest and captured the surviving men.
Testimony in the trial of three accused pirates stretched into its eighth day Wednesday in U.S. District Court. If convicted, Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar could face the death penalty.
The victims were Scott and Jean Adam, a California couple who owned the Quest, and Phyllis Patricia Macay and Robert Riggle, both of Seattle, who had joined them on the voyage.
According to prosecutors and court records, the Adams and their friends were asleep at sea when 19 men boarded the yacht armed with assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. They took control and began to sail for Somalia where they intended to conduct ransom negotiations.
Negotiations at sea with Navy officials failed, according to the indictment.
Abdiali, 36, pleaded guilty in May 2011 to one count of piracy, joining 10 others. All were sentenced to life in prison.
In court Wednesday, defense attorneys noted several inconsistencies in his testimony. Assistant Public Defender Larry Dash, Salad’s lawyer, said Abdiali has repeatedly told FBI agents and others he was born in 1990 – not 1976. During one trial, Abdiali testified he locked himself in the bedroom, Dash said.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith has not ruled on a defense motion that claims Salad has a mental disability and should not be subject to the death penalty.