Somali Pirates, a Kidnapping, Then a Fb Message

Somali Pirates, a Kidnapping, Then a Fb Message


Somali pirates kidnapped and held Michael Scott Moore, a journalist, hostage for two-and-a-half terrifying years till a ransom fee secured his launch in September 2014.

Two months later, Mr. Moore obtained a stunning message on Fb.

“How are you, Michael?” the message stated. “I’m ur pal Mohammed Tahlil. I needs to talk with u.”

The sender’s Fb web page included his {photograph}. Mr. Moore acknowledged him as one of many males who guarded him throughout his captivity in Somalia. He determined to write down again.

What adopted was a rare alternate of Fb messages between the journalist and his former captor. How lengthy they communicated and the place the dialog finally led has not been made public, however in the summertime, the Somali was taken into custody by United States authorities and jailed in New York Metropolis, courtroom information present.

A federal indictment made public Wednesday charged the person, Mohamed Tahlil Mohamed, 38, with kidnapping, hostage taking, conspiracy and different counts. The authorities haven’t stated the place he was arrested or how he got here to the US.

The indictment recognized his hostage solely as “John Doe,” however Mr. Moore confirmed on Thursday that he was the unnamed sufferer.

When requested concerning the arrest of Mr. Tahlil, Mr. Moore replied, “I’m not as blissful as you may think that he’s in jail.” He declined to remark additional and wouldn’t say whether or not the Fb exchanges had indirectly led to Mr. Tahlil’s seize or give up.

Closely armed males kidnapped Mr. Moore when he was doing analysis on piracy in January 2012 close to the inland city of Galkayo, about 400 miles northeast of the capital Mogadishu. Mr. Moore’s ebook “The Desert and The Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast,” printed in July, recounted his ordeal.

It seems from the Fb exchanges — a few of that are detailed in a legal grievance and others in Mr. Moore’s ebook — that the journalist developed a form of affinity for Mr. Tahlil, who, in flip, offered Mr. Moore with details about his kidnappers.

In his ebook, Mr. Moore, 49, described his captivity as filled with terror, ache and shut calls. One in all his abductors broke his wrist through the kidnapping and it didn’t heal for weeks. He witnessed the torture of a fellow hostage, who was hanged the wrong way up from a tree department whereas a person beat him on the chest and ft with a bamboo cane.

[See a brief documentary about Mr. Moore’s captivity]

Ultimately Mr. Moore’s mom turned concerned within the negotiations for his launch. The abductors demanded $20 million.

“My mother talked them right down to $1.6 million,” Mr. Moore stated in an interview on NPR’s “Contemporary Air.”

The legal grievance relies largely on F.B.I. interviews with Mr. Moore after his launch. It stated a few of Mr. Moore’s Somali captors brandished AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and handguns. One in all them made threats that if the ransom was not paid, Mr. Moore can be offered to the Shabab, an Islamist extremist group.

Mr. Moore was moved round to completely different places in Somalia and likewise held for a while on a ship with different hostages, the grievance says.

At one level, the abductors additionally demanded a letter from a “high-ranking U.S. authorities official,” the grievance says, “absolving them of any penalties for the kidnapping.” Mr. Moore’s ebook identifies the official as President Obama.

Within the ebook, Mr. Moore wrote that Mr. Tahlil was “the boss” of the Somali guards who watched him and different hostages. Mr. Moore described Mr. Tahlil as light with “a shy, snaggletoothed smile.”

It was in November 2014, after Mr. Moore had been launched and had resumed utilizing his Fb account, that he heard from Mr. Tahlil. “I recoiled from the message and ignored him at first,” he stated in his ebook. “However Tahlil had been light, even good-humored, so finally I wrote again.”

Mr. Tahlil wrote that he was in Hobyo, a Somali coastal city generally known as a pirate den.

“I hope u are effective,” Mr. Tahlil stated. “The pirates who held u hostage killed one another over group vendetta and cash points.”

The legal grievance stated Mr. Tahlil’s account of Mr. Moore’s kidnappers attacking one another was in keeping with studies that a few of the pirates had been killed in a dispute over learn how to divide the ransom fee.

Within the ensuing months, Mr. Tahlil continued to speak with Mr. Moore, even sending him images of people concerned in his abduction, figuring out a few of them and describing their roles, the grievance stated.

One photograph, Mr. Tahlil wrote, depicted the person who had damaged Mr. Moore’s hand when he was taken hostage, in response to the grievance. In different photographs, Mr. Moore acknowledged a few of his former guards.

A few of Mr. Tahlil’s messages have been written in damaged English, the grievance notes, and others have been in Somali, which Mr. Moore used a web-based translator to learn.

In one other alternate, Mr. Tahlil recalled how he had obtained treatment for Mr. Moore and given him a radio, books, pens and different objects throughout his captivity. The grievance confirmed Mr. Moore responded with gratitude.

“You additionally introduced me a little bit bottle of drugs from Hobyo to the ship,” Mr. Moore wrote again. “All you wished was a field of biscuits in return. I keep in mind.”

Mr. Tahlil has been detained with out bond pending additional proceedings. He might face life in jail if convicted. His lawyer and federal prosecutors in Manhattan declined to remark.

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