FILE – In this June 20, 2018, file photo, Michael Scott Moore, author of “the Desert and The Sea: 977 Days of Captivity on the Somali Pirate Coast,” poses for a portrait at the Los Angeles Public Library in Los Angeles. Abdi Hassan Yusuf, an AMERICAN citizen who has been charged with kidnapping and other counts for his alleged role in the abduction of Moore. He was held for almost three years before his family paid ransom for his release. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
MINNEAPOLIS – A U.S. citizen has been charged with kidnapping and other counts for his alleged role in the abduction of a freelance journalist who was held hostage in Somalia for almost three years, according to the federal charging documents unsealed Thursday in New York.
According to a criminal complaint, Abdi Hassan Yusuf was part of a conspiracy to commit the journalist to be kidnapped in January 2012 in Galkayo, Somalia, and the demand $20 million ransom. The journalist was released Sept. 23, 2014.
While the journalist is not mentioned in the complaint, or to a replacement of the indictment, the dates of his capture and release, and different details described in the court documents, corresponding with the experiences of the writer, Michael Scott Moore, a German-American who was kidnapped by pirates in Somalia while he was there writing a book about piracy.
Moore’s publicist said that he could not be reached for an interview Thursday. In November, Moore confirmed to the New York Times that another man indicted in the case, Mohamed Tahlil Mohamed, was one of his captors. Mohamed and Hassan are listed as co-defendants.
According to the court documents, Hassan, 51, was born in Mogadishu and is a naturalized AMERICAN citizen. He faces six counts, including kidnapping conspiracy, hostage-taking conspiracy, and unlawful use of firearms.
He was arrested in Minneapolis on Friday and will be returned to New York to face the charges. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer in New York to respond to his name.
Charging documents say that the journalist was in a vehicle on Jan. 21, 2012, in the area of Galkayo, when he was surrounded by a group of heavily armed men wearing what appeared to be AK-47 rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. He was kidnapped and beaten with weapons, injuring his head and wrist.
He was taken to different areas in Somalia, and at one point was held in a ship off the Somali coast. He told the investigators that he and another hostage were usually guarded by about 10 men, all armed with rifles or belt-fed machine guns. In December 2013, he was moved to a home in the neighborhood of Galkayo, which was frequently visited by Hassan, the complaint says.
The complaint says Hassan spoke in English and was a translator for the hostages; the journalist, Hassan from a line-up, he said, was also published in a leading position over the other guards.
Several times during the journalist’s imprisonment, Hassan ordered him to call a family member to try to ask for more money for ransom. During a conversation on Jan. 30, 2012, the journalist told a family member that his kidnappers demanded a $20 million “and that if they did not receive the money within 24 hours, they would stop providing food and water to the Victim-1,” the complaint said.
In a conversation in May 2012, the journalist said things had “gotten very serious” and another as a hostage, had been tortured for him. The journalist said that there is a real threat that if the ransom doesn’t come up, he would be sold to al-Shabab.
In May 2012, the pirates released a video in which the journalist in a secret location, with a prayer cloth on his head, surrounded by masked captors, who pointed a machine gun and a rocket-propelled grenade at him.
The journalist was released in September 2014. Moore has said that his family raised $1.6 million for his release.
According to the complaint, Hassan was introduced in the US. in New York on Sept. 15, 2015, and was interviewed by the U. S. Customs and Border Protection. He is reportedly said he worked as the Minister of Interior and Security for the Galmudug State in Somalia, including Galkayo, and his work is included to arrange for the release of the abducted people, including the journalist.
Follow Amy Forliti on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amyforliti