Two men have been sentenced for helping Somali pirates kidnap an American journalist for ransom and hold him for 2-1/2 years, prosecutors said.

Mohammed Tahlil Mohammed and Abdi Yusuf Hassan were convicted by a federal jury in New York on February 24 of hostage-taking, conspiracy, providing material support for an act of terrorism and other crimes that carry life sentences.

Michael Scott Moore, a German-American journalist, was kidnapped in January 2012 in Galkayo, Somalia, 400 miles northeast of the capital Mogadishu. He worked as a freelancer for the German publication Spiegel Online and investigated a book about piracy.

The kidnappers demanded $20 million in ransom and at one point released a video showing Moore surrounded by masked kidnappers who pointed an assault rifle and a rocket-propelled grenade at him.

Moore was Released in September 2014. Moore said his family raised $1.6 million for his release.

This undated photo provided by his family shows journalist Michael Scott Moore.

AP photo/Family photo

“Tahlil, a Somali Army officer, resigned his post to take command of the pirates holding Moore captive and obtained the machine guns and grenade launchers used to threaten and detain Moore,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “Hassan, the minister of interior and security in the Somali province where Moore was held hostage, abused his position of power and led the pirates’ efforts to extort a large ransom from Moore’s mother.”

Hassan, who was born in Mogadishu, is a naturalized US citizen. He was arrested in Minneapolis in 2019 and charged with federal crimes.

Details of Talil’s arrest have not been released, but he was jailed in New York in 2018.

In a book published in 2018, Moore wrote about his captivity, he said Tahlil contacted him from Somalia via Facebook two months after the journalist’s release and posted the photo. Moore recognized him as the “boss” of his security.

The men began to correspond.

“I hope you’re OK,” Tahlil said, according to the book. “The pirates who held you hostage killed each other due to group vendettas and money problems.”

According to the criminal case reported by The New York Times, this coincided with reports that some of the pirates were killed in a dispute over the split of Moore’s ransom.

Hassan and Talil were to be sentenced on September 6.

Attorneys for the two men were reached by email Monday for comment, but messages were not immediately returned.

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