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3rd Somali sentenced to life in yacht hijacking

NORFOLK, Va. - A U.S. judge has sentenced a Somali man to life in prison for his role in the hijacking of a yacht that left all four Americans on board dead.

Muhidin Salad Omar is the third of 11 men to be sentenced who have pleaded guilty to piracy in the case.

The owners of the SV Quest, Jean and Scott Adam of Marina del Rey, California, along with friends Bob Riggle and Phyllis Macay of Seattle, were shot to death in February several days after being taken hostage several hundred miles south of Oman.

Omar was on a U.S. Navy ship when pirates shot the four Americans.

During sentencing Monday, he said he was sorry for the loss experienced by the victims' families.

A fourth man was scheduled to be sentenced later Monday.

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Two other members of the group Ali Abdi Mohamed and Burhan Abdirahman Yusuf, pled guilty to piracy and were sentenced in August to life in prison, reported CBS Affiliate WTKR

The men said they were part of a group that conspired to hijack the yacht and take it back to Somalia, holding its passengers for ransom.

But the plan fell apart when they were shadowed by U.S. warships.

On Feb. 21, two pirates came aboard the USS Sterett to negotiate with naval forces for the release of the hostages. The New York Times reported the FBI hostage negotiator aboard the Sterett did not believe the two were serious and so they were taken into custody.

An undated picture of Scott Underwood Adam and Jean Savage Adam of Marina del Rey, Calif., left, owners of the yacht S/V Quest; and a 2005 photo of passengers Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle, both of Seattle.; AP Photo/Joe Grande

The following morning, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired from the Quest at the Sterett, a guided-missile destroyer 600 yards away. The RPG missed. Almost immediately afterwards, small arms fire was heard coming from the yacht, said Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain.

U.S. forces converged on the Quest in small boats, and some pirates moved to the bow and put up their hands in surrender.

A member of a U.S. special operations force killed one of the pirates with a knife, Fox said. A second pirate was also killed, and the bodies of two other pirates were discovered on board, bringing to 19 the total number of pirates involved. The U.S. military didn't say how those two died and it was not known if the pirates had fought among themselves.

But the pirates had begun arguing among themselves over what concessions to make in the negotiations and one of them apparently decided to settle the argument by killing their hostages, CBS News correspondent David Martin reported.

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