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Somali Pirates, a Kidnapping, Then a Facebook Message

Somali pirates abducted and held Michael Scott Moore, a journalist, hostage for two-and-a-half terrifying years till a ransom fee secured his unlock in September 2014.

Two months later, Mr. Moore gained a unexpected message on Facebook.

“How are you, Michael?” the message mentioned. “I am ur friend Mohammed Tahlil. I wants to speak with u.”

The sender’s Facebook web page incorporated his . Mr. Moore known him as one of the vital males who guarded him all over his captivity in Somalia. He made up our minds to write down again.

What adopted was once an abnormal alternate of Facebook messages between the journalist and his former captor. How lengthy they communicated and the place the dialog in the long run led has now not been made public, however in the summertime, the Somali was once taken into custody through United States government and jailed in New York City, court docket data display.

A federal indictment made public Wednesday charged the person, Mohamed Tahlil Mohamed, 38, with kidnapping, hostage taking, conspiracy and different counts. The government have now not mentioned the place he was once arrested or how he got here to the United States.

The indictment known his hostage handiest as “John Doe,” however Mr. Moore showed on Thursday that he was once the unnamed sufferer.

When requested in regards to the arrest of Mr. Tahlil, Mr. Moore responded, “I’m not as happy as you might imagine that he’s in jail.” He declined to remark additional and would now not say whether or not the Facebook exchanges had someway ended in Mr. Tahlil’s seize or give up.

Heavily armed males kidnapped Mr. Moore when he was once doing analysis on piracy in January 2012 close to the inland the city of Galkayo, about 400 miles northeast of the capital Mogadishu. Mr. Moore’s guide “The Desert and The Sea: 977 Days Captive at the Somali Pirate Coast,” printed in July, recounted his ordeal.

It seems from the Facebook exchanges — a few of which can be detailed in a felony grievance and others in Mr. Moore’s guide — that the journalist evolved a roughly affinity for Mr. Tahlil, who, in flip, supplied Mr. Moore with details about his kidnappers.

In his guide, Mr. Moore, 49, described his captivity as stuffed with terror, ache and shut calls. One of his abductors broke his wrist all over the abduction and it didn’t heal for weeks. He witnessed the torture of a fellow hostage, who was once hanged the wrong way up from a tree department whilst a guy beat him at the chest and ft with a bamboo cane.

[See a brief documentary about Mr. Moore’s captivity]

Eventually Mr. Moore’s mom become concerned within the negotiations for his unlock. The kidnappers demanded $20 million.

“My mom talked them down to $1.6 million,” Mr. Moore mentioned in an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

The felony grievance is based totally in large part on F.B.I. interviews with Mr. Moore after his unlock. It mentioned a few of Mr. Moore’s Somali captors brandished AK-47 attack rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and handguns. One of them made threats that if the ransom was once now not paid, Mr. Moore could be bought to the Shabab, an Islamist extremist staff.

Mr. Moore was once moved round to other places in Somalia and likewise held for a while on a send with different hostages, the grievance says.

At one level, the abductors additionally demanded a letter from a “high-ranking U.S. government official,” the grievance says, “absolving them of any consequences for the kidnapping.” Mr. Moore’s guide identifies the legitimate as President Obama.

In the guide, Mr. Moore wrote that Mr. Tahlil was once “the boss” of the Somali guards who watched him and different hostages. Mr. Moore described Mr. Tahlil as mild with “a shy, snaggletoothed smile.”

It was once in November 2014, after Mr. Moore were launched and had resumed the use of his Facebook account, that he heard from Mr. Tahlil. “I recoiled from the message and ignored him at first,” he mentioned in his guide. “But Tahlil had been gentle, even good-humored, so eventually I wrote back.”

Mr. Tahlil wrote that he was once in Hobyo, a Somali coastal the city referred to as a pirate den.

“I hope u are fine,” Mr. Tahlil mentioned. “The pirates who held u hostage killed each other over group vendetta and money issues.”

The felony grievance mentioned Mr. Tahlil’s account of Mr. Moore’s kidnappers attacking every different was once in keeping with reviews that one of the most pirates were killed in a dispute over how you can divide the ransom fee.

In the following months, Mr. Tahlil endured to keep in touch with Mr. Moore, even sending him pictures of people all for his abduction, figuring out a few of them and describing their roles, the grievance mentioned.

One picture, Mr. Tahlil wrote, depicted the person who had damaged Mr. Moore’s hand when he was once taken hostage, in keeping with the grievance. In different pictures, Mr. Moore known a few of his former guards.

Some of Mr. Tahlil’s messages have been written in damaged English, the grievance notes, and others have been in Somali, which Mr. Moore used a web-based translator to learn.

In any other alternate, Mr. Tahlil recalled how he had bought drugs for Mr. Moore and given him a radio, books, pens and different pieces all over his captivity. The grievance confirmed Mr. Moore replied with gratitude.

“You also brought me a little bottle of medicine from Hobyo to the ship,” Mr. Moore wrote again. “All you wanted was a box of biscuits in return. I remember.”

Mr. Tahlil has been detained with out bond pending additional complaints. He may face existence in jail if convicted. His attorney and federal prosecutors in Manhattan declined to remark.

—END—

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