NORFOLK, Va., Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Somali pirate Jama Idle Ibrahim got a 30-year prison term Monday for a failed attempt to commandeer a U.S. Navy vessel he thought was a merchant ship.
Ibrahim, 38, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in August to trying to plunder a vessel, engaging in an act of violence against persons on a vessel and using a firearm during a crime of violence in the April attack against the USS Ashland, the U.S. Justice Department said in a release.
Ibrahim and five fellow pirates mistook the Ashland for a merchant vessel they intended to seize and hold for ransom, Justice Department officials said.
"Today marks the first sentencing in Norfolk (Va.) for acts of piracy in more than 150 years," U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said. "Ibrahim admitted his role in an armed attack on a U.S. Navy ship in the Gulf of Aden, after mistaking it for a merchant vessel."
Court documents indicated that sometime around April 10, Ibrahim and his cohorts sailed into the Gulf of Aden searching for a merchant ship to attack and seize. The pirates made the mistake of picking on the Ashland. After giving chase, they began firing at the U.S. ship with the intent of boarding it.
They failed when the Ashland's crew returned fire, setting their small boat ablaze.
MacBride said Monday's sentencing "demonstrates that the United States will hold modern-day pirates accountable in U.S. courtrooms."