Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Two more Somali pirates plead guilty in US court

Two more Somalis pleaded guilty in U.S. court on Tuesday for pirating a yacht that led to the murder of two American couples and face mandatory sentences of life in prison.

Said Abdi Fooley, 24, and Abdi Jama Aqid, 28, admitted that they took part in the pirating of the yacht off the Somalia coast in February and in the taking of the four Americans on board as hostages.

The two men said they did not personally shoot any of the Americans and did not instruct any of the other pirates to shoot the hostages. The judge set their sentencing on Sept. 9.

Story continues below advertisement

The latest guilty pleas in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, brought to seven the number of defendants who have admitted their roles in pirating the yacht. A total of 15 men are in U.S. custody and have been charged in the incident.

The four slain Americans were Jean and Scott Adam of California and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle from Seattle.

"Fooley and Aqid put four Americans' lives in danger to get tens of thousands of dollars in ransom money," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said. "Tragically, their hostages were executed before they could be rescued."

According to U.S. court documents, Somali pirates killed the four Americans on their yacht after the U.S. military warned the pirates it would block their course to land.

A group of pirates seized the yacht on Feb. 18, and one was aboard the U.S. warship negotiating a possible deal to release the couples when shooting broke out, prompting the U.S. military to send American special forces to the boat.

Mr. Fooley admitted that he became a pirate in the hope of hijacking a boat to make money and that he carried a semi-automatic assault rifle abroad the yacht, the S/V Quest.

Mr. Aqid, who said his job was to spot the ships, admitted that he knew the group of pirates planned to capture a boat, take it to the beach and get a ransom of as much as $80,000.

Story continues below advertisement

Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia have hijacked vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms by seizing ships, including oil tankers, and hostages.

Report an error
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at