The American captives are Christian evangelists:
Jean and Scott Adam, a couple from California who has been sailing around the world since December 2004, according to a website the Adams keep. Two other Americans were also believed to be on board.
The Adams website chronicles the couple’s travels over the last seven years, from El Salvador and Panama in 2005 to Fiji in 2007 and Singapore and Cambodia last year. They most recently sailed from Thailand to Sri Lanka and India and were on their way to Oman when captured. Djibouti — the tiny East African country north of Somalia — had been next on their list. A satellite tracking system the couple uses showed them docked in Mumbai, India on Feb. 1.
The Adams…run a Bible ministry, according to their website, and have been distributing Bibles to schools and churches in remote villages in areas including the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America and French Polynesia. The Adams carry both Catholic and Protestant versions of the Bible, and at several different reading levels….
Pirates have recently tied hostages upside down and dragged them in the sea, locked them in freezers, beaten them and used plastic ties around their genitals, the commander of the European Union anti-piracy force, Maj. Gen. Buster Howes told AP this month. Pirates have turned increasingly violent in their attacks, and naval officials say pirates have begun systematically torturing hostages and using them as human shields.
The pirates are unlikely to hurt the four Americans because they won’t win any ransom money if they do, said Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, the head of Dryad Maritime Intelligence. He argued that the pirates would be wise to abandon the yacht because the hijacking threatens their business model, which relies on ransoms from large shipping and insurance companies. “They risk the collapse of their business model if they change their status quo and the American government deems that they pose an immediate threat to the safety of American citizens,” he said. “They’ve made a mistake and it’s in the Somalis’ business interest to get off the yacht as soon as possible.”
The pirates from Puntland are not hardline Islamists and the fact the Adams carry Bibles is not likely to be a problem. Pirates in Puntland are known to spend their ransom spoils on alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.
But the prison sentence given to Muse this week could have implications for the four American hostages. [He’s the] Somali pirate…sentenced to 33 years in prison by a New York court for the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama. That case ended in a spectacular rescue when Navy sharpshooters killed two pirates holding the ship’s captain, Richard Phillips…. Earlier this week a pirate told an Associated Press reporter in Somalia that pirates would target Americans in retaliation for the sentencing. The pirate, who identified himself by the name Hassan, said Americans would suffer “regrettable consequences.”
What the Obama administration is doing:
The U.S. military was monitoring the situation. Matt Goshko, a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, which oversees Somalia, said reports indicate there are four U.S. citizens aboard the Quest. “All relevant U.S. agencies are monitoring the situation, working to develop further information, assess options and possible responses,” Goshko said.
Source: “Somali pirates hijack 4 Americans in yacht; US assessing options, possible responses,” by Abdi Guled, Canadian Press, Feb 19, 2011.
UPDATE: The 4 americans were found dead today, Feb. 21, off the Somali coast.