Two 'Quest' killers convicted, more to come

Two of the Somalis on trial in the USA for murdering four Americans, after hijacking their yacht Quest off Oman early this year, will spend the rest of their lives in prison after being dealt mandatory life sentences by a court in Virginia.

Ali Abdi Mohamed (30) and Burhan Abdirahman Yusuf (31) had pleaded guilty to piracy. Nine other alleged pirates who have also pleaded guilty are due for sentencing within weeks and 19 men altogether are implicated.

The Americans had been taking part in the Blue Water Rally but left the convoy to sail on their own. They were the first American casualties since the Somalian piracy crisis began.

Meanwhile Mohammad Saaili Shibin (50), said to have been the ransom negotiator in the Quest case and who has been in custody since being taken to the US after his arrest in April, has now been charged on 15 piracy-related counts.

In another case, a ransom was paid for the release of 22 crew of a merchant vessel for which Shibin is said to have received payment of up to $50,000.

Pirates are making hundreds of millions of dollars from the business of hijacking in the Arabian Sea, mainly from commercial ships.

Advice to leisure sailors from the British and American governments is now to avoid sailing in the area altogether, as despite a significant international security presence the body of water is too vast to police effectively.