Entries in Pirates (12)


ABC Exclusive: Jessica Buchanan's Dad Says 'Today Is the Big Day'

Danish Refugee Council(PHOENIXVILLE, Pa.) -- The father of rescued American Jessica Buchanan, who flew home to Pennsylvania on Monday, told ABC News "today's the big day."

John Buchanan told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview before Jessica's arrival that his daughter and his family have held up during her captivity and rescue, but the grueling wait is almost over.

"We're doing well as a family, and Jessica, we have not seen her yet -- so today's the big day," he told Sawyer. "We're all extremely excited about that. Obviously, I mean I can't really express it in words what it's going to be like to see her...We're just really looking forward to a great reunion."

Jessica Buchanan left from Sigonella, Italy, a Pentagon official said, and flew in a commercial jetliner to Pennsylvania.

Her father told Sawyer that when he sees his daughter Monday, he just wants to tell her face to face "I love you...and I'm really glad you're OK."

"She's a really unique girl and she's strong and she's motivated and she's very resourceful and, you know, we're all just really proud of her that she came through this the way she did," he said. "The reports we're getting are that she's doing very well. She's physically on the mend and psychologically she's just done great and she's in a good frame of mind."

Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, of Denmark, were abducted Oct. 25 by a band of Somalis while on their way to the airport in Galcayo, located in central Somalia. Both were working for the Danish Refugee Council's Danish Demining Group, and had just finished a training course for Somalis when they were taken and held for ransom.

Over the three months of captivity, concern grew over Buchanan's deteriorating health, which was described as possibly "life-threatening," and a "window of opportunity for mission success" presented itself, according to Pentagon spokesperson George Little.

Buchanan and Thisted were rescued on Wednesday by SEAL Team 6, the same group involved in the mission that killed Osama bin Laden last spring.

The mission to save the aid workers was daring and required the SEALs to parachute from a high altitude to within a few miles of the hideout. Once the SEALa reached the encampment, they killed all nine heavily armed kidnappers and completed the rescue.

"We just can't thank them enough for risking their lives," John Buchanan told ABC News. Buchanan also thanked President Obama for "having the fortitude to make the decision to okay the action" and the FBI for their work behind the scenes from the moment the kidnapping took place.

"The people who work for the FBI are just special people, they're top-notch people," he said.

In Somalia, Buchanan served as a regional education adviser at the Danish Demining Group, a division of the Danish Refugee Council, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Her father said they joked while she was in captivity "that she may have even been teaching those guys English or something, you know her captors, that's the kind of person she is."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Blackbeard's Cannon Lifted from Ocean Floor off North Carolina

Karen Browning/N.C. Department of Cultural Resources(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Archaeologists lifted a 300-year-old cannon from the pirate Blackbeard's ship off the coast of North Carolina Wednesday.

The eight-foot-long cannon was covered in sand and ocean debris called "concretion," which will take archaeologists and students at East Carolina University as many as eight years to crack through before getting to the metal cannon, according to Jennifer Woodward, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, which oversees the project.

"It was perfect.  It's a beautiful day, the crews were out earlier this morning, several boats out there witnessed it," Woodward said.  "It looks like it's covered in concretions, with cement all around it, and there will be lots of things attached to it."

Woodward said that in past recoveries of cannons from the ship, bits of rope, lead shot and gold dust had been found encased with the recovered artifact.  Researchers have also found wine glass stems and a leg shackle, likely used in the slave trade, she said.  Twelve cannons have been lifted from the ship so far.

Blackbeard, whose real name was Edward Teach, was the captain of the Queen Anne's Revenge, a captured French slave ship.  In 1717, he successfully blockaded the harbor in Charleston, S.C., where he demanded money and goods from the townspeople for weeks.

He used Ocracoke on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as his base of operations.  It was there that he met his end in 1718.

Lauren Hermley, a researcher with the group, said that Blackbeard likely grounded the ship on purpose before it sank, giving the pirate and his crew time to take off the big ticket items -- treasure troves of silver, for example.

He was rumored to have a treasure hidden somewhere, but if he did, the secret died with him.  The artifacts that remain are jackpots only to archaeologists and history buffs.

Hermley noted that the recovery of artifacts has been going on since 1997, and is expected to last until 2013.  Artifacts from the ship are on display in North Carolina museums and museums around the country.  It is the largest underwater archeological project in the country, she noted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pirates Charged In Death Of American Yachters

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NORFOLK, Va.) -- Fourteen accused pirates -- 13 from Somalia and one from Yemen -- appeared in a federal courtroom in Norfolk, Virginia, Thursday afternoon after being indicted for the hijacking of a yacht off the coast of Africa that led to the deaths of four Americans in February.

Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said the men were charged with piracy, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and using a rocket-propelled grenade during the kidnapping.

"The lead count is piracy, which carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted," MacBride told ABC News. "The indictment...alleges that at least three of the pirates murdered the Americans without cause, without provocation, did so intentionally."

The suspects have not been charged with murder, but McBride said the investigation is ongoing and that additional charges are possible.

The men were turned over to the Justice Department Thursday after being held by the U.S. military since the attack on the 58-foot yacht called Quest in the Arabian Sea on Feb. 22, 2011.

The men allegedly attempted to hold four Americans hostage for ransom, but the yacht's owners, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, California, and their friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle were shot and killed before the U.S. Navy could negotiate a deal.

Despite the high level of piracy in the waters off East Africa in recent years, the Adams and their friends were the first Americans known to have died in a pirate attack in the region.

The Navy received an S.O.S. call from the Quest, saying that men had boarded the vessel. In response to the call, the USS Sterett began tailing the Quest.

Two of the alleged pirates came aboard the Sterett to negotiate, but while negotiations were underway, the Navy said, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired toward the Sterett. Gunfire was then heard aboard the Quest.

U.S. Navy SEALs boarded the Quest and found two pirates dead as well as all the Americans. The alleged pirates have claimed that the violence was started by the Navy.

The weapons charge, stemming from the RPG attack, carries a minimum sentence of 30 years, while kidnapping can mean a life sentence.

MacBride told ABC News that the military had taken a fifteenth pirate, a Somali, into custody, but he turned out to be a juvenile who had no role in the attack so he was not charged.

In November, five Somali pirates were convicted in the same federal court on piracy charges stemming from an attack on two U.S. Navy ships, the USS Ashland and the USS Nicholas. They are scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Four Americans Killed on Pirated Yacht Off Somalia

Image Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Four Americans taken captive by pirates on their yacht off Somalia have been killed.

Jean and Scott Adam, of California, were sailing the world on a Christian mission to distribute bibles when their yacht, the 58-foot S/V Quest, was ambushed by pirates in the notoriously dangerous waters nearly 300 miles off the Somali coast. With the Adams was another couple – Phyllis MacKay and Bob Riggle, of Washington State.

U.S. forces boarded the Quest on Tuesday after hearing shots fired on board. All four Americans were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds.

"We express our deepest condolences for the innocent lives callously lost aboard the Quest," said Gen James N. Mattis, U.S. Central Command Commander.

Two pirates were killed by U.S. forces during Tuesday's raid; another two were found dead onboard. Thirteen pirates were captured. U.S. Central Command believes a total of 19 pirates were involved in the yacht’s hijacking.

As the group approached the waters off the Horn of Africa, they cut back using their radios and satellite systems so their location couldn’t be tracked by pirates, but they were still found.

U.S. forces had been monitoring the pirated yacht by air and sea for nearly three days since its capture.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Somali Pirates Hijack American Yacht on Indian Ocean Voyage

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SALALAH, Oman) -- U.S. officials confirm that a yacht with four Americans aboard has been seized by Somali pirates in the waters of the Indian Ocean.

The advocacy group Ecoterra International says its monitoring of regional maritime activity off the coast of East Africa indicates four Americans aboard the yacht S/V Quest were seized by pirates 240 nautical miles off the coast of Oman.

Lt. Commander Susie Thomson, a spokesperson for the Combined Maritime Forces that patrol the waters of the Middle East, confirmed the Quest incident, but could provide no details.

A U.S. official said, "We are still looking at what the options are."

The 58-foot S/V Quest is owned by Jean and Scott Adam, who have been sailing the boat around the world for the past seven years. As they approached the notoriously hostile waters off the Horn of Africa, the Adams cut back using their radios and satellite systems so their location couldn't be tracked by pirates, but they were still found.

The Adams are members of the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey, California.

Pirate seizures have continued in the waters off East Africa despite the constant patrols of by the world's navies, including ships from the United States. It is believed that Somali pirates currently have 29 ships in their possession and are holding 660 crewmembers hostage.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Somali Pirates Face Life Sentence for Piracy Against US Ship

Photo Courtesy - US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marc Rockwell-Pate(NORFOLK, Va.) -- In the first piracy trial in the U.S. since 1820, five Somali pirates were convicted by a federal jury in Virginia Wednesday of acts of piracy against the USS Nicholas.

“Today marks the first jury conviction of piracy in more than 190 years,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride.  “Today’s conviction demonstrates that armed attacks on U.S.-flagged vessels are crimes against the international community and that pirates will face severe consequences in U.S. courts.”

The men were taken into U.S. custody in April after a failed piracy attempt against the U.S. warship, which they had mistaken as a merchant vessel, off the Horn of Africa.

Mohammed Modin Hasan, Gabul Abdullahi Ali, Abdi Wali Dire, Abdi Mohammed Gurewardher and Abdi Mohammed Umar all face a mandatory life sentence.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Somali Pirates Face Life Sentence for Piracy Against US Ship


(NORFOLK, Va.) – In the first piracy trial in the U.S. since 1820, five Somali pirates were convicted by a federal jury in Virginia Wednesday of acts of piracy against the USS Nicholas.


“Today marks the first jury conviction of piracy in more than 190 years,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Today’s conviction demonstrates that armed attacks on U.S.-flagged vessels are crimes against the international community and that pirates will face severe consequences in U.S. courts.”


The men were taken into U.S. custody in April after a failed piracy attempt against the US warship off the Horn of Africa that they had mistaken as a merchant vessel.


Mohammed Modin Hasan, Gabul Abdullahi Ali, Abdi Wali Dire, Abdi Mohammed Gurewardher and Abdi Mohammed Umar all face a mandatory life sentence.


Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Accused Somali Pirates Head to Trial in US Court

The guided missile frigate USS Nicholas (FFG 47) steams through the Atlantic Ocean in formation, May 7, 2006. Photo Courtesy - Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Joshua Kinter/U.S. Navy(NORFOLK, Va.) -- For the first time in more than a hundred years, American jurors will weigh charges of "piracy under the law of nations" in a case of five Somali men accused of firing on a U.S. warship.

It's one of the oldest laws on the books, dating back to the early part of the 19th Century, when Congress first recognized the power of American courts to punish those who would plunder ships in international waters if the pirates are brought to the United States.  It also happens to be one of the most serious crimes in the U.S. Code, carrying a mandatory life prison sentence upon conviction.

While other alleged pirates from Somalia have recently been brought into U.S. courts, experts say the trial that begins with jury selection in Norfolk, Virginia on Tuesday marks the first time in at least 100 years, and perhaps since the earliest days of the Civil War, that American jurors will hear a case in which the defendants are charged with piracy, specifically, rather than lesser or related counts.

Though the Somali men are accused of violating 11 separate laws altogether, including a series of weapons and explosives charges, a guilty verdict on the single piracy count alone would result in a term of life behind bars.

Federal prosecutors say the Somalis thought they were attacking a merchant ship when they aimed their assault rifles at a U.S. Navy frigate as it patrolled the Indian Ocean in the dead of night on April 1.  The sailors onboard the USS Nicholas, which had been on patrol for pirates, fired back and captured the five men, bringing them to the frigate's home port of Norfolk, the world's largest naval base.

David Bouchard, a defense attorney for the Somalis, says the piracy statute should not apply in this case, since the men never got anywhere close to the Navy ship.

"I think [bringing the piracy charge is] the most absurd thing I've seen the federal government do," Bouchard told ABC News.  "I find it incomprehensible."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Mexican Police: We Know Who Killed American Jet Skier

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(REYNOSA, Mexico) -- Police are looking for two suspected members of the Zeta drug cartel believed to be directly involved in the shooting death of an American man killed while jet skiing with his wife on a Texas-Mexico border lake.

Mexican authorities have identified the men as Juan Pedro Saldivar Farias, and his brother, Jose Manuel. The two are suspects in a string of murders, kidnappings, armed robberies and fires, according to officials.

David Hartley was shot in the back of the head, according to his wife, as the couple fled the Mexican side of the lake to U.S. waters on Sept. 30.

Tiffany Hartley says her husband fell off his watercraft after he was shot. She told investigators that she attempted to circle back, but that the gunmen were still firing, forcing her to abandon the rescue.

David Hartley’s body has not been recovered.

His mother made a public plea to U.S. and Mexican authorities last week, appearing on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”

"[David] needs to come home and we're begging the Mexican government, the governor of Texas, President Obama," said Pam Hartley, who also appealed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "To Hillary -- mother to mother -- help me bring my son home, please," she said, crying.

Falcon Lake, part of the Rio Grande situated directly on the Texas-Mexico border, has become a haven for pirates, and there have been at least five reported run-ins on the lake so far this year, though this is the first instance of a death.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Eyewitness in Alleged Mexican Pirate Attack Case Comes Forward

Photo Courtesy - ABC News | Google Maps(MEXICO) -- An eyewitness has come forward in the case of the American who was allegedly attacked by Mexican pirates to claim he saw the man's panicked wife as she fled to the American side of Falcon Lake.

"I saw the Jet Ski come around an island," the witness told ABC News.  "There was something wrong actually. The way I saw her come around it looked like something terribly wrong happened. I mean, she was jittery, frantic....She was crying, sobbing."

As a safety precaution, the witness spoke in shadow and with voice alteration to avoid identification because he said he feared for his life.

What the witness did not see -- what apparently no one but the alleged victims and attackers saw -- was what exactly happened on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, which straddles the border between Texas and Mexico. Tiffany Hartley said she and her husband, David, took Jet Skis to the Mexican side of the lake to take pictures of a small church when suddenly a band of Mexican pirates opened fire on them with assault rifles. In a heart-wrenching 911 call, Hartley tells the dispatcher that her husband has been shot in the head and that she is too weak to pull his body up onto her Jet Ski. She was forced to abandon him there.

Tiffany Hartley returned for the first time Wednesday to the location where she said her husband was killed last week.

Mexican authorities launched a search by boat and air for the 30-year-old's body Wednesday after repeated pleas for increased effort from Hartley. The search was halted, reportedly after threats from Mexican drug cartels, but it was to resume Thursday, Hartley said.

Copyright ABC News Radio


Mexico Launches Helicopter Search of Falcon Lake for David Hartley's Body

Photo Courtesy -- ABC News(MEXICO) -- Mexican authorities have launched a search using boats and helicopters for the body of an American who was allegedly killed by Mexican pirates on a lake bordering the two countries.

The Mexican promise of help in the search for the body of David Hartley came after Mexican law enforcement officials cast doubt on the story by Hartley's wife that he was shot in the head by gunmen on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, which straddles the border between the two countries.

It also came after Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked Mexican President Filipe Calderon to call him with assurances that Mexican authorities are searching for Hartley's body.

Perry said that he hopes to hear from Calderon "within the next 48 hours, that the body has been retrieved. If not, we're not looking hard enough."

The Mexican Foreign Relations Ministry Wednesday said the country "is committed to the investigation of those acts." It added that Mexican authorities have "stepped up their actions with the support of specialized personnel, boats and helicopters."

Hartley's widow, Tiffany, defended herself early Wednesday on Good Morning America against suggestions by Mexican law enforcement officials that they doubted her claim that her husband was shot dead while they rode on Jet Skis on the Mexican side of the lake. Mexican police said there is no evidence of a crime as described by Tiffany Hartley. "It's hard just to hear it," she told Good Morning America.  "But I can see it from their point of view. I can understand why they might think that, but it's not true. ... I would never even think about hurting my husband.  I loved him."

U.S. officials said they're prohibited from entering Mexican waters to search for Hartley's body. David Hartley's mother, Pam Hartley, has issued a public plea to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking for aid in bringing her son's body home.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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