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US Court Sentences Somali Pirate to 25 Years

USS Ashland (undated photo)
USS Ashland (undated photo)

A U.S. court has sentenced a Somali man to 25 years in prison for a pirate attack on a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

A federal judge in Washington sentenced Jama Idle Ibrahim on Thursday. The 39-year-old pleaded guilty last year to charges of conspiring to commit piracy and using a firearm during a violent crime.

The charges stemmed from a 2008 attack on a Danish merchant ship, which was carrying cargo for a Texas-based company, McDermott International, Inc.

Federal prosecutors say Ibrahim and other Somali men, armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, seized the vessel and held its 13-member crew for ransom. The ship and crew were released in 2009, after the ship's owner paid $1.7 million in ransom to the pirates.

Ibrahim was later captured after a failed attack on a U.S. Navy vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

A Virginia court sentenced him to 30 years in prison in that case last November.

Ibrahim was one of six Somalis accused of attacking the USS Ashland, which they mistook for a merchant ship.

In that case, he pleaded guilty to charges of attacking to plunder a vessel, violence against persons on a vessel and using a firearm during a violent crime.