US Citizen Convicted of Kidnapping Journalist in Somalia

Two men have been found guilty of col­lab­o­rat­ing with Soma­li pirates who kid­napped an Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist for ran­som and held him for two and a half years, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Mohamed Talil Mohammed and Abdi Yusuf Has­san were found guilty of hostage tak­ing, con­spir­a­cy, mate­r­i­al assis­tance in an act of ter­ror­ism, and oth­er crimes pun­ish­able by life impris­on­ment on Feb­ru­ary 24 by a New York fed­er­al court jury. was con­vict­ed of

Ger­man-born Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist Michael Scott Moore was kid­napped in Galka­yo, Soma­lia, 650 kilo­me­ters north­east of the cap­i­tal, Mogadishu, in Jan­u­ary 2012. He was work­ing as a free­lancer for the Ger­man pub­lish­er Der Spiegel Online and was research­ing a book on piracy.

The kid­nap­pers demand­ed a $20 mil­lion ran­som and at one point released a video of Moore point­ing his machine gun and rock­ets at him sur­round­ed by masked kidnappers.

Moore was released in Sep­tem­ber 2014. Moore says his fam­i­ly raised $1.6 mil­lion for his release.

“Tahlil, an offi­cer in the Soma­li Army, left his post to take com­mand of the pirates hold­ing Moore in cap­tiv­i­ty and obtained the machine gun and grenade launch­er used to intim­i­date and restrain Moore,” the US attor­ney said.

Dami­an Williams said in a state­ment. “Has­san, Min­is­ter of Home Affairs and Secu­ri­ty for the Soma­li state where Moore was kid­napped, mis­used his posi­tion in the gov­ern­ment and direct­ed a pirate oper­a­tion to extort a large ran­som from Moore’s mother.”

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

Details of Tahir’s arrest have not been made pub­lic, but he was impris­oned in New York in 2018.

In his 2018 incar­cer­at­ed book, Moore says Tahrir con­tact­ed him on Face­book from Soma­lia two months after the jour­nal­ist’s release, includ­ing a pho­to. Moore rec­og­nized him as the “boss” of the guards.

The two began to correspond.

“I hope you’re doing well,” Tahir said, accord­ing to the book. “The pirates who held you hostage were killing each oth­er over group grudges and mon­ey issues.”

It coin­cid­ed with reports that some pirates were killed in a dis­pute over the dis­tri­b­u­tion of Moore’s ran­som, accord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint report­ed by The New York Times.

Has­san and Tahlil were sched­uled to be sen­tenced on Sep­tem­ber 6.

The Asso­ci­at­ed Press emailed the two attor­neys late Mon­day after­noon, but the mes­sages were not imme­di­ate­ly returned.

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