HomeUS News updateU.S. citizen convicted in journalist’s hostage-taking in Somalia

U.S. citizen convicted in journalist’s hostage-taking in Somalia

NEW YORK: Two men have been indicted on charges of helping Somali pirates who kidnapped an American journalist for ransom and held them captive 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.

The kidnappers demanded a $20 million ransom and at one point released a video showing Moore surrounded by masked captors 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, “Tahleel, a Somali army officer, left his position to take command of the pirates who held Moore captive and obtained machine guns and grenade launchers to intimidate and capture Moore. ” “Hassan, Minister of the Interior and Security for the province in Somalia where Moore was taken hostage, abused his official position and led the pirates’ efforts to extort a massive ransom from Moore’s mother.”

Abdi Yusuf Hasan.
Abdi Yusuf Hasan.Sherburne County Jail via Star Tribune via AP 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 Tehlil got in touch with him via Facebook from Somalia two months after the journalist’s release, and included a photo. Moore recognized him as the “boss” of his guards.

The men began a correspondence.

According to the book Tahleel said, “I hope you are well.” “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.

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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