Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse on Trial in New York

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, who is facing charges in New York City for the 2008 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama is up against some new charges. In addition to the Maersk Alabama charge two more charges have been brought against the young man by the Justice Department:

The superseding indictment filed by the Justice Department in Manhattan federal court alleges that Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse hijacked a ship traveling the Indian Ocean in March 2009. He and his accomplices held the captain and crew of the vessel hostage, during which time he threatened one of the hostages with an improvised explosive device (IED).

Muse and his associates allegedly used the ship to take control of another vessel in April 2009.

Appearing in court to be indicted on those charges Muse appeared calm. As other accused pirates incarcerated in Europe have seen, this may simply because jail offers an opportunity for leisure and supply a frequency of amenities, like clean water and consistent, large meals; that those who turn to piracy have never before experienced.

Interviews with Muse's parents seem to imply a story of a young man led astray, but the additional charges imply that prosecutors do not believe that Muse is a wide-eyed first-time offender.

Muse's personal details are murky, with his parents in Somalia insisting he was tricked into getting involved in piracy. His age also remained unclear. His parents said he is only 16, but U.S. law enforcement said he is at least 18, meaning prosecutors will not have to take extra legal steps to try him in a U.S. court.

Muse's mother said she has no records to prove his age, but she and the teen's father say he is 16. "I never delivered my babies in a hospital," she said. "A traditional midwife helped me deliver."

A classmate, however, said he believed Muse could be older — and that he studied English at school.

"I think he was one or two years older than me, and I am 16," said Abdisalan Muse, reached by telephone in Galkayo. "We did not know him to be a pirate, but he was always with older boys, who are likely to be the ones who corrupted him..."

...Muse grew up poor in a one-room home, the eldest child of a divorced mother, in one of the most impoverished, violent countries in the world. A nation of around 8 million people, Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. A quarter of Somali children die before age 5 and nearly every public institution has collapsed.

Muse's mother sells milk at a small market every day, saving around $6 every month for school fees for her oldest son. She pays 15 dollars a month in rent.

"I cried when I saw the picture of him," Hassan said, referring to the photo of her son being led in handcuffs in New York. "Relatives brought a copy of the picture to me. Surely he is telling himself now, 'My mother's heart is broken."'

She said the last time she saw her son in person, she was pushing him out the door so he would not be late for school.

Since that day weeks ago, he simply disappeared. Asked why she believed he left, Hassan was at a loss.

"A young man, at his age, could say he needed money, perhaps," she said. "I used to give him his school fee because I could not afford more than that. But of course he needed money."

The boy's father, Abdiqadir Muse, said the pirates lied to his son, telling him they were going to get money. The family is penniless, he said.

"He just went with them without knowing what he was getting into," Muse said in a separate telephone interview with the AP through an interpreter.

He also said it was his son's first outing with the pirates after having been taken from his home about a week and a half before he surrendered at sea to U.S. officials.

No comments: