WASHINGTON, Apr 17 – A teenage pirate captured by US Navy forces during a high-seas hostage drama last week will face charges in a New York court, CBS News reported.
The pirate was identified as 19-year-old Abdulwali Muse, believed to be the ringleader of four Somali hijackers who attacked the US-flagged Maersk Alabama cargo ship on April 8 and took its captain hostage for five days, the television network said.
Muse was set to face charges in New York’s Southern District Court.
The US federal court has reviewed major terror cases in the United States, among them the convictions of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombings.
A US Justice Department spokesman declined to confirm the extradition when contacted by AFP.
"The Justice Department continues to review all evidence and other issues related to this matter and is committed to bringing a prosecution if the evidence so warrants," said spokesman Dean Boyd.
Officials had indicated previously that the US government was mulling whether to bring the suspect to trial in the United States or hand him over to Kenyan authorities under an international agreement to prosecute pirates.
After US Navy snipers killed three of Muse’s fellow bandits and rescued Captain Richard Phillips on Sunday, pirates had pledged to target Americans in revenge for the killings.
Phillips flew out of Kenya’s port of Mombasa Friday, an airport official told AFP.
Phillips, who arrived in Mombasa Thursday aboard a US navy warship that was behind his rescue last weekend, left for home in a private charter at 0203 GMT, said the official who requested anonymity.
Aided by good weather, Somali pirates have intensified attacks off the lawless country’s coast in recent days, with at least 10 ships seized since the beginning of this month.
On Tuesday, pirates said they attacked an American freighter with rockets to "destroy" the ship as revenge, but the USS Bainbridge warship came to the rescue of the freighter, the Liberty Sun, which escaped.
The pirates have defied an international naval presence in the region to carry out the hijackings, which have wreaked havoc on one of the world’s busiest shipping routes and threatened vital food aid deliveries to African nations.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a plan on Wednesday, calling for prosecution and freezing pirates’ assets with the support of Washington’s international partners.
The chief US diplomat added that she was sending an envoy to an April 23 Somali donors’ conference in Brussels to improve the situation in lawless Somalia and help implement the plan.
An interagency steering group that includes the State Department, Defence Department and Justice Department will meet Friday to coordinate a possible response to the spate of piracy attacks, she said.