US citizen, Somali convicted of helping pirates kidnap journalist

Streaming HUBMarch 7, 2023

Two men have been convicted of helping Somali pirates kidnap an American journalist for ransom and hold them hostage for two-and-a-half years.

Mohamed Tahlil Mohamed and Abdi Yusuf Hassan were indicted by a federal court jury in New York on February 24 for hostage taking, conspiracy, providing material support for acts of terrorism, and other offenses carrying potential life sentences.

Michael Scott Moore, a German-American journalist, was abducted in January 2012 in Galkayo, Somalia, 400 miles northeast of the capital Mogadishu. He was working as a freelancer for the German publication Spiegel Online and was researching a book about piracy.

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The kidnappers demanded $20 million in ransom and at one point released a video showing Moore surrounded by masked kidnappers who pointed a machine gun and rocket-propelled grenades at him.

Moore was freed in September 2014. Moore has said that his family raised $1.6 million for his release.

US Attorney Damien Williams said in a statement, “Tahlil, a Somali army officer, left his position to assume command of the pirates who took Moore captive and the machine gun used to threaten and capture Moore and Received grenade launchers.” “Hassan, Minister of the Interior and Security for the province in Somalia where Moore was held hostage, abused his official position and led the pirates’ efforts to extort a massive ransom from Moore’s mother.”

Michael Scott Moore, author of "Desert and sea: Somali pirates held captive for 977 days off the coast" poses for a portrait in Los Angeles on June 20, 2018.

Michael Scott Moore, author of “The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast,” poses for a portrait in Los Angeles on June 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Hassan, born in Mogadishu, is a naturalized American citizen. He was arrested in Minneapolis in 2019 and charged with federal crimes.

Details of Tehlil’s arrest have not been disclosed, but he was jailed in New York City in 2018.

In a 2018 book Moore wrote about his captivity, he said two months after the journalist’s release, Tehlil from Somalia contacted him via Facebook and included a photo. Moore recognized him as the “boss” of his guards.

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The men began a correspondence.

“I hope you’re okay,” Tehlil said, according to the book. “The pirates who took you hostage killed each other over group vendettas and money issues.”

According to the criminal complaint reported by the New York Times, a dispute over the distribution of Moore’s ransom was consistent with reports of some pirates being killed.

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Hasan and Tehleel were to be sentenced on September 6.

Lawyers for the two men were emailed for comment by The Associated Press after hours on Monday, but messages were not immediately returned.

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