Abdi Jama Aqid and Said Abdi Fooley are among seven Somalis who have pleaded guilty to piracy for taking part in the hijacking of the yacht Quest. Prosecutors don't believe any of the men who have pleaded guilty shot the Americans, and each is expected to cooperate with authorities as part of a plea deal that could ultimately see their mandatory life sentences reduced.
All seven who have entered guilty pleas face sentencing in August and September. Whether any of the men who plead guilty receive less prison time may not be known until long after their sentencing hearings. That's because the government wants their cooperation for any future charges in this and possibly other cases.
Court documents have named three Somali men as those responsible for pulling the trigger on the Americans, and none of them have plea deals scheduled. In all, 14 Somalis and 1 Yemeni were charged in connection with the case. Four others who were aboard the Quest at the time of the hijacking were killed and a juvenile was released by American authorities after being captured by the US Navy.
The owners of the Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death after being taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman.
Court documents show Aqid was responsible for spotting ships that could be captured and ransomed and that he believed he could get $70,000 to $80,000 for his part. Other court records showed the 19 men on board the Quest planned to split 65 percent of the ransom money among themselves and with a land-based interpreter, who is among those charged. An unnamed financier was supposed to get 35 percent of the ransom, according to records.
In a statement of facts that Fooley signed Tuesday, he said he carried an assault rifle aboard the yacht. He said he was tasked with guard duty aboard the Quest and that he was frequently stationed at the front of the vessel.
Other court documents have said the hostages were kept inside the steering house aboard the yacht the day of the shooting.
Fooley said he dropped his gun and put his hands up and surrendered when the shooting erupted. The Quest was being shadowed by American war ships at the time. The Associated Press