THREE Somali men have been charged with kidnapping, hostage-taking and murder in the deaths of four US citizens during the hijacking of a yacht off the coast of Oman.
The Justice Department said a superceding indictment adds to the charges already filed of piracy against a group of Somalis and one Yemeni in the February 22 attack on the S/V Quest.
The owners of the yacht, Jean and Scott Adam, were Christian missionaries based in California who were sailing around the world at the time of the hijacking.
They were shot to death, along with their companions Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay from Seattle, Washington, several days after being taken hostage and as negotiations were taking place with US Navy officials.
Named in the indictment were Ahmed Muse Salad, 25, Abukar Osman Beyle, 20, and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar, 29.
The indictment contends that they were part of a group armed with firearms and a rocket-propelled grenade which boarded the Quest on February 18 and took the four American citizens as hostages before killing them.
“Today’s superceding indictment charges three men from Somalia with brutally murdering four American citizens held hostage for ransom,” said US Attorney Neil MacBride.
“This past March, the grand jury returned an indictment against these defendants, and others, with piracy in the armed hijacking of a US-flagged yacht.
“The superseding indictment accuses these three men of summarily executing the hostages – without provocation – while the military was attempting to negotiate their release.”
With the additional charges, the defendants now potentially face a death sentence if convicted.
To date, 11 of the 14 defendants charged in connection with the attack on the Quest have pleaded guilty to charges which call for mandatory life in prison.