Accused Somali arrives in US to face piracy charges

Musi's case is thought to be the first of its kind in the US in more than a century.

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    Abdiwali Abdiqadir Musi, center, accused of hijacking the Maersk Alabama and taking its captain Richard Phillips hostage, is led into a federal building in New York on Monday night. The sole surviving Somali pirate from the hijacking is being tried in New York and appears in court Tuesday morning.
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A Somali teenager accused of helping to hold an American sea captain hostage after a botched hijacking attempt arrived in New York Tuesday to attend a court hearing. His capture and the prospect of a US trial have not deterred other pirates, who opened fire on two cargo ships in the Gulf of Aden Monday.

Abdiwali Abdiqadir Musi (whose name is also transliterated as Muse) is the only surviving member of the pirate gang that attempted to seize the US container ship Maersk Alabama earlier this month. The Associated Press reports that he is believed to be the first person to face piracy charges in the US for more than a century.

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The AP also reports that Musi's real age is unclear. Law enforcement officials say he is at least 18, but his parents say he is only 16. The Christian Science Monitor reported last week that Musi's age could complicate the case, particularly if he is under the age of 18. Proving his age could be near impossible in the disorderly state of Somalia.

According to the Somali news website Mareeg Online, Musi's mother, Adar Abdurahman Hassan, claims that her son is innocent and that he is only 16. Mrs. Hassan has also asked US President Barack Obama to free him.

Political analysts believe "that Tuesday's trial would serve as a deterrent to other pirates who have been harassing ships off the Somali coasts," reports Voice of America.

But despite Musi's capture, piracy continues unabated in the Gulf of Aden. On Monday, Somali pirates in speedboats opened fire on two cargo ships, reports the Associated Press. Another group of pirates freed a food aid freighter after receiving US $100,000 from Somali businessmen.

On Tuesday, Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed said that his government can solve piracy with international financial support to form national security forces, reports the Shandelle Media Network, a Somali news agency. The president made the statement ahead of attending a conference in Brussels Thursday of international donors, who will address funds that would go toward a 6,000-person national security force, 10,000 Somali police, and African Union peacekeepers. Organizers say $165 million is needed.

Meanwhile, other solutions to tackle piracy are being debated by government officials and within the shipping industry. According to The Washington Times, the industry is against deploying armed guards on cargo ships, fearing it would exacerbate the situation.

Calls to attack the pirates' base camps on land have also been rejected by the US government, reports Reuters.

Pirate attacks on cargo ships have increased in recent weeks and 17 ships and about 300 crew members are still being held.

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