A Somali man accused of negotiating a ransom payment during a 2008 pirate takeover of a Danish merchant ship has been indicted on federal charges, prosecutors announced Thursday, becoming the second person charged in Washington in the attack.
Ali Mohamed Ali, 48, was arrested Wednesday at Dulles International Airport. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance April 26 in U.S. District Court in Washington.
A federal grand jury indictment returned last week and unsealed Thursday charges Ali with conspiracy to commit piracy, piracy under the law of nations and other crimes. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Ali is the second person to face federal charges in Washington over the takeover of the CEC Future in late 2008 off Somalia. Federal prosecutors say a group of Somali pirates with AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade seized the ship on Nov. 7, 2008, in the Gulf of Aden, and forced the captain to sail to other locations where Ali and others got on. Ali then demanded $7 million from the ship's owners for the release of the vessel and crew, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors say the pirates left the ship more than two months later after being paid a $1.7 million ransom. The 13 crew members and the vessel and cargo were released.
It wasn't immediately clear if Ali had a lawyer.
Ali is the second person to face federal charges in Washington in the piracy case. Jama Idle Ibrahim was sentenced to 25 years this month for his role in the attack, but he will not spend any additional time in prison since his sentence will run concurrently with a 30-year sentence already imposed for a separate attack last year on a U.S. Navy ship off the coast of Somalia.
Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, declined to comment on the circumstances of Ali's arrival at Dulles.
The office often prosecutes crimes that occur overseas, and has jurisdiction when neither the victim of a crime nor the defendant have connections to any other location within the United States. Though the CEC Future was a Danish-owned ship, it was carrying cargo belonging to McDermott International, Inc., an engineering and construction company located in Houston.