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Journalist Released After Almost Three Years As A Somali Pirate Hostage
A German-American journalist with roots in SoCal was released yesterday after 977 days as a Somali pirate hostage. Michael Scott Moore, 45, is reportedly in Nairobi, Kenya now and doing well, FOX LA reports, after going on nearly three years as a captive in Somalia.
Moore, who holds citizenship in both the U.S. and Germany and who has worked as a freelance journalist in both counties, traveled to Somalia in 2012 to research pirates for a book he was writing. Before he left, Moore told The Telegraph that he was most interested in the pirates who kidnapped British couple Paul and Rachel Chandler off their yacht in October of 2009. The Chandlers were released in November 2010 for a ransom of 600,000 pounds (which is about $962,880 in U.S. dollars).
Moore was supposed to leave Somalia on January 21, 2012. However, he was ambushed while being driven to the airport in Galkayo, Somalia, and it is suspected it was his own security detail that arranged for his kidnapping with the pirates.
Only four days after his capture, U.S. Navy Seals rescued an American hostage and her Danish colleague in a raid that killed nine pirate guards. Moore, however, spent 977 days being moved around by pirates who feared another U.S. rescue attempt.
After the first rescue, Somali pirate Hassan Abdi warned the U.S. in a statement that if another rescue was attempted, "we will all die together," Fox News reported at the time. "It's difficult to hold U.S. hostages, because it's a game of chance: die or get huge money," Abdi said. "But we shall stick with our plans and will never release him until we get a ransom."
Throughout the ordeal, the pirates provided videos and photos proving that Moore was still alive, threatening to sell him to al-Qaeda if their ransom demands were not met.
German and U.S. officials reportedly worked together to negotiate Moore's release. One of the pirate commanders who held him said he was released in exchange for a $1.6 million ransom. Meanwhile, Sawsan Chebli, a spokeswoman for Germany's Foreign Ministry, told the AP in Berlin that the Germany government cannot be blackmailed, and did not confirm the ransom reports. The U.S. has a policy against paying ransoms.
Moore grew up in Manhattan Beach and attended Mira Costa high school. His mother lives in Redondo Beach, Fox LA reports. At the time of his capture, he was living in Berlin.