Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Pirates: The Maersk Alabama

Capturing A Pirate

Once aboard the Maersk Alabama, the pirates' own speedboat was capsized, either by the pirates to show that they wouldn't back down, or by the swells caused when the crew barricaded in the emergency control room began swinging the ship's rudder wildly in an effort to make things hard for the pirates.

Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse
Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse
The pirates sent one of the sailors below deck to round up the crew. When he didn't come back, a young pirate named Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse (according to his parents; court documents name him as Abduhl Wal-i-Musi) followed him below. Engineer A.T.M. "Zahid" Reza, from Bangladesh by way of Connecticut, persuaded the pirate that he could trust him as a fellow Muslim. Reza lured the pirate into the engine room. Chief Engineer Mike Perry and other men were waiting there.

Perry and Reza grappled with the young man. Reza stabbed the pirate in the hand with an ice pick, Perry stabbed him in the back. They subdued the pirate and tied him up. Reza wanted to kill him, but Perry rejected bloodshed under the circumstances. As Chief Mate Shane Murphy saw it, the crew now had the upper hand. They gave him food and water. He told them the pirates wanted $3 million in ransom.

"Zahid" Reza

Ruiz asked the pirate why they'd attacked. Muse told him that Somalia's people were poor, uneducated and unfed. He told the ship's Second Mate and navigation officer, Ken Quinn, that he wanted to go to Americaand asked if Quinn would take him.

The majority of the crew were at that point in contact with their captain only by walkie-talkie. For hours, said Cronan, they weren't sure whether anyone had been injured or killed on deck. The crew in the stifling rooms below didn't have access to their main food or water supplies. A crewman on deck threw bottled drinks through a standpipe, and some of the sailors below deck were able to reach the engine room water supply.

Things were hard for the crew, but, thirteen hours in, with the ship locked down, one of their crew held hostage, and their own vessel underwater, the pirates were in at least an equally tight spot.

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