Pirates Hijack Yacht With Two American Couples Onboard
UPDATE: Pentagon Confirms Four Americans Killed By Somali Pirates
On Monday a U.S. warship continued to track a hijacked yacht carrying four Americans. The 58-foot yacht was seized by pirates Friday, 300 miles off the Somali coast.
Jean and Scot Adam from southern California, and Phyllis MacKay and Bob Riggle from Washington State were sailing the world on a Christian mission to distribute bibles. Mackay and Riggle met up with the Adam’s in India and took off sailing on the Adam’s yacht, QUEST. The Adam’s have called their yacht home since December 2004.
A U.S. Navy warship and helicopter are tracking the yacht as it heads towards the Somali coast. Officials say if the yacht reaches the Somali coast, any chance of rescue will be greatly diminished and the couples and pirates can easily disappear. Currently the vessel is believed to be headed to the pirate haven of Puntland on Somalia’s northern tip.
Last time an America was taken hostage by pirates all but one was killed by snipers. In 2009 the captain of the Maersk-Alabama was taken hostage on a life raft while pirates tried to negotiate with the crew for his safe release. Navy snipers took out the pirates holding the captain hostage while a ring leader climbed onboard the merchant vessel to negotiate. The Navy arrested Abduwali Abukhadir Muse, who was thought to be the pirate’s leader. He was sentenced to nearly 34 years in prison just last week, after pleading guilty to kidnapping and hijacking.
In recent months foreign governments have taken a more aggressive approach to piracy, sending military Special Forces in to raid ships taken hostage and free crews.
This latest scenario is similar to the kidnapping of a British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, released in November after being held in a remote location in Somalia for 388 days. They’re release came after a reportedly large ransom of more than $1 million was paid.
Graeme Gibbon-Brooks told the Associated Press that it is in the pirate’s best interest to leave the American yacht. He says this attack is a risk for the pirates, especially if the U.S. government sees the pirates as an immediate threat to the safety of American citizens.
Photo courtesy of www.svquest.com