Yemeni Man Pleads Guilty in Murder of Quest Crew

There’s still a long way to go in making the waters safe again, but it’s always good to see another pirate facing sentencing.

A Yemeni man pleaded guilty to piracy on Thursday for his role in the hijacking of a yacht off the coast of Africa that left four Americans dead, including a Seattle couple. Mounir Ali is now the 11th man to plead guilty in the February hijacking of the yacht Quest, although prosecutors don’t believe any of those men fired the fatal shots aboard the sailing vessel.

The owners of Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, CA, along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death after being taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman.

They were the first U.S. citizens killed in a wave of pirate attacks that have plagued the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean in recent years, despite an international flotilla of warships that patrol the area. Four U.S. warships were shadowing Quest and negotiations were underway when shots aboard the sailing vessel were fired.

Court documents have identified three Somalis as the triggermen aboard the boat. They each still face piracy, kidnapping and weapons charges, and prosecutors have said additional charges are likely in the future.

Ali faces life in prison at sentencing in October, although that could later be reduced as part of a plea agreement that requires him to help prosecutors in this case and possibly others.

Ali had previously rejected the plea deal because he said he was forced to join the Somalis after the boat he was on was hijacked. His attorney, Jim Theuer, said he advised Ali he likely wouldn’t prevail at trial.

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