A federal judge today sentenced a Somali pirate to 25 years in prison for attacking a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden. Pirates held the ship for 71 days.
Jama Idle Ibrahim pled guilty in Sept. 2010 to conspiracy to commit piracy under the law of nations and conspiracy to use a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. He was sentenced to the maximum of five years in prison for the piracy charge and the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the firearms charge.
“Modern-day pirates are nothing like the swashbuckling heroes in Hollywood movies,” U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a written statement. “Today’s pirates are ruthless criminals who hold ships and their crews hostage with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. Twenty-five years in prison is a just punishment for this attack that threatened international commerce and human life.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, this is the first piracy conviction in the District of Columbia.
Federal prosecutors say the act of piracy against the M/V CEC Future began in early November 2008. According to court documents (PDF) , Ibrahim and other Somali men were armed with AK 47s, a rocket-propelled grenade and handguns when they seized the Danish merchant ship, which was carrying cargo for a Texas company. The 13-man crew, ship and cargo were held for ransom. Additional pirates later boarded the vessel and stole money, food and supplies from the ship. The vessel was released after the ship’s owner, The Clipper Group, paid a $1.7 million ransom in Jan. 2009.
Ibrahim was later captured after a failed pirate attack on a U.S. Navy vessel. A Virginia court sentenced him in November to 30 years in prison following his guilty plea to charges related to that attack. Today’s sentence will run concurrently with the 30-year sentence.