On July 8, 2011, a 23-year old Yemeni man, Mounir Ali, pleaded guilty in U.S District Court, Norfolk, Virginia, to a pirate attack on a private U.S.-flag yacht off the coast of the Horn of Africa. The yacht was hijacked in February by 19 pirates intending to hold the four Americans on board for ransom. U.S forces responded to the “mayday” and were attempting to negotiate release of the captives when shots rang out on the yacht. Navy forces then boarded the yacht and discovered that all four Americans had been shot by their captors. All subsequently died.
Two pirates were killed in the skirmish and 15 were captured. Two others were discovered dead when U.S forces boarded the vessel.
Eleven of the pirates have now pleaded guilty. Sentencing for Mounir Ali is set for October 21.
U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia released a statement saying: “This latest guilty plea again shows that modern piracy is far different than the romantic portrayal in summer-time movies. Pirates who attack U.S. citizens on the high seas will face justice in a U.S. courtroom.”