The pirate suspect arrested in the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama was all smiles on arriving in New York City late Monday, escorted by a phalanx of law enforcement officers.
None of the officers would confirm his identity, but his arrival for trial in the United States had been widely expected. The suspect arrived at the Jacob K. Javits Federal Office Building in Manhattan, which is linked to a federal detention facility where he was expected to be held pending an appearance in federal court. The timing of that appearance was not immediately available. He was walked through the rain, surrounded by media, as well as officers from federal and New York City law enforcement agencies. The suspect wore a dark jumpsuit and handcuffs, and what appeared to be a bandage on his left hand. Members of the media urged him to comment, but it was not clear whether he understood. He smiled broadly and laughed. He had been handed over to federal authorities by the U.S. military in Djibouti, defense officials said. The suspect, known in official documents as “Pirate Defendant,” was brought to Djibouti aboard the USNS Walter S. Diehl, a refueling ship that was with the warship USS Bainbridge at the scene of the failed hijacking on April 8 that turned into a hostage ordeal 350 miles off Somalia.
Pirates attack U.S. cargo ship but fail to get aboard
Pentagon looks to move battle against pirates ashore
Commentary: Take fight to the pirates
Three pirates who were holding the Maersk Alabama’s captain in the ship’s lifeboat were killed by Navy SEALs four days later. The survivor had surrendered and was aboard the Bainbridge when the captain, Richard Phillips, was rescued, officials have said. From the Bainbridge, he was transferred to the USS Boxer for medical treatment. See an interactive map of 2009 pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa » Phillips was wounded when crew members of the Maersk Alabama took him hostage in the early hours of the pirate attack on the cargo ship, according to the military. The crew members had hoped to exchange him for their captain, but the pirates did not release Phillips when the crew returned their captive. “I’m mad because, you know, I could have been dead right now,” Ken Quinn, the Maersk Alabama’s navigation officer, told CNN Radio on Monday. “But at the same time he’s just a little skinny guy, you know, from Somalia where they’re all starving and stuff.”
Quinn said he wasn’t angry at the single alleged pirate, noting that piracy in the region is fueled by the urge to survive hardship and poverty. He said the suspect told him that he wanted to go the United States, and asked whether Quinn could help him get there. “I said, ‘Yeah, you’ll probably going to go anyway. I don’t think you’re going to need my help,'” Quinn said. “If he goes to jail here, it will be a whole lot better than living in Somalia.”