(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that a man identified by Somali pirates as the person responsible for negotiating the ransom of four U.S. citizens held hostage on the high seas and then killed last February, has been indicted on piracy and kidnapping charges.
The justice department says Mohammad Shibin was apprehended in Somalia and transferred to the United States to stand trial.
Federal officials say Shibin was not among the 14 Somalia pirates who boarded the yacht with the four Americans, but instead worked behind the scenes to see how much cash could be extorted for their release.
Neil McBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced that the arrest marks "the first time the U.S. government has captured and charged an alleged pirate in the leadership role -- a hostage negotiator who operated in Somalia.”
While the U.S military was attempting to negotiate the release of the four hostages -- Scott Underwood Adam, Jean Savage Adam, Phyllis Patricia Macay and Robert Campbell Riggle -- the pirates on board the yacht shot and killed them. The U.S. took the Somali pirates into custody following the shooting.
Shibin was indicted on March 8 in Virginia and appeared in federal court Wednesday. The piracy and kidnapping charges each carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.
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