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Pirate leader testifies in USS Ashland trial

Friday - 2/22/2013, 6:44pm  ET

BROCK VERGAKIS
Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. -- A man who says he was the leader of a band of Somali pirates has testified against his former crew members in the attack on the USS Ashland.

Jama Idle Ibrahim testified in federal court on Friday that he and six other men attempted to hijack the Ashland off the coast of Africa in 2010. He says the crew thought the Ashland was a commercial vessel. But after one of the men fired an AK-47 at the amphibious dock landing ship, the Navy fired back. One Somali crew member was killed and the skiff the Somali men were in was set on fire.

Ibrahim later agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in hopes of getting a reduced sentence.

Defense attorneys say their clients aren't pirates, but were smuggling refugees to Yemen.


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