LEV L. DASSIN, the Acting United States Attorney for
the Southern District of New York, JOSEPH M. DEMAREST, JR., the
Assistant-Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Division of
the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and RAYMOND W.
KELLY, the Police Commissioner for the City of New York,
announced the arrival late yesterday of ABDUWALI ABDUKHADIR MUSE
to face charges stemming from his alleged participation in the
April 8, 2009, hijacking of the Maersk Alabama container ship in
the Indian Ocean, and the subsequent taking of the captain of the
ship as a hostage.
MUSE was taken into custody by the United States Navy
on April 12, 2009, while at sea in the Indian Ocean. On the same
day, the United States Navy rescued the captain of the Maersk
Alabama from a life boat in the Indian Ocean where he had been
taken hostage by MUSE and three other men. On April 19, 2009,
MUSE was transferred from the custody of the United States Navy
to the FBI for transport to the Southern District of New York.
According to the criminal Complaint filed today in Manhattan
On April 8, 2009, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of
Somalia, MUSE and three other pirates boarded the Maersk Alabama
container ship, after shooting at the ship from their own boat.
Each of the four pirates boarded the Maersk Alabama armed with a
gun. The Maersk Alabama is a United States-flagged container
ship, and all of the crew members, including the captain, were
United States citizens. Once on board the Maersk Alabama, MUSE,
who conducted himself as the leader of the pirates, demanded,
among other things, that the ship be stopped. Several hours
after boarding the Maersk Alabama, the pirates took a life boat
from the ship, on which they held the captain of the ship as a
MUSE and the other three pirates held the captain
hostage on the life boat from April 8 to April 12, 2009. During
this period, in radio communications between the pirates and the
United States Navy, the pirates threatened to kill the captain if
they were not provided with safe passage away from the scene. On
April 12, 2009, MUSE requested and was permitted to board the USS
Bainbridge, a United States Navy missile destroyer that had
arrived on the scene. On the USS Bainbridge, MUSE continued to
demand for himself and the other pirates safe passage from the
scene in exchange for the captain’s release. On April 12, 2009,
MUSE was taken into custody by the United States Navy.
MUSE, who is over 18 years old, was presented in United
States Magistrate Court and ordered detained. MUSE is charged
with: (1) piracy under the law of nations; (2) conspiracy to
seize a ship by force; (3) discharging a firearm, and aiding and
abetting the discharge of a firearm, during and in relation to
the conspiracy to seize a ship by force; (4) conspiracy to commit
hostage taking; and (5) brandishing a firearm, and aiding and
abetting the brandishing of a firearm, during and in relation to
the conspiracy to commit hostage taking. The First Count carries
a mandatory term of life imprisonment; the Second Count carries a
maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison; the Third Count
carries a maximum potential penalty of life imprisonment; the
Fourth Count carries a maximum potential penalty of life
imprisonment; and the Fifth Count carries a maximum potential
penalty of life imprisonment.
Mr. DASSIN praised the New York Joint Terrorism Task
Force — which principally consists of agents of the FBI and
detectives of the New York City Police Department — and the
Naval Criminal Investigative Service for their extraordinary
efforts in the investigation of this case. Mr. DASSIN also
thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of
Justice, the Department of State, specifically the United States
Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, the FBI’s Legal Attaché Office in
Nairobi, and the Department of Defense for their work in this
case. Mr. DASSIN also expressed his gratitude to the Government
of Kenya and Maersk Line, Limited, for their cooperation and
“An act of piracy against one nation is a crime against
all nations. Pirates target ships and cargo, but threaten
international commerce and human life,” said Acting United States
Attorney LEV L. DASSIN. “Today’s charges demonstrate our
commitment to hold pirates accountable for their crimes.
Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse and his fellow pirates attacked an
American crew and its American captain on a ship flying an
American flag. Now, Muse has been brought to face justice in an
“Modern-day pirates bear little resemblance to the
swashbuckling anti-heroes of popular fiction. The pirates who
boarded the Maersk Alabama were armed hijackers who robbed the
ship, threatened the crew and held the captain hostage at
gunpoint,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge JOSEPH M.
DEMAREST, JR. “The FBI joins our international law enforcement
partners in our mutual goal of maintaining the rule of law on the
“The NYPD was proud to play a part with our federal
partners in helping combat piracy on the high seas,” said New
York City Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY.
Assistant United States Attorneys MICHAEL FARBIARZ and
BRENDAN R. McGUIRE are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely
accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.