One of the crew members of the now famous Maersk Alabama, the ship at the center of this month’s “Somali pirate” drama, is doing a little speaking out of school. He is directly contradicting some of the media and US government hype about what exactly went down on the ship that day. Among the stories the ship’s chief engineer, Michael Perry, says is false, is one which was “widely disseminated by media and celebrated on social-networking sites.” That is that Capt. Richard Phillips offered himself as a hostage to save his crew. Perry made the remarks to the St. Petersburg Times.The media frenzy we read/saw/heard about the saving of Capt. Phillips promoted American exceptionalism, power and might, but it was a diversion to avoid examining the reasons for the kidnapping in the first place.
According to the paper, “although it has inspired a nation and fueled virtual fan groups, Perry, 60, wants people to know the truth:”Perry wants to tell the story of the crew, the men who were almost baked alive in an unventilated room as pirates roamed the ship. Those men worked hard to save their captain, Perry said, even though they suffered from heat exhaustion.For those of you who have followed this closely, you will see that Perry’s version of events closely mirrors early reports, which were quickly replaced by the other, more heroic narrative, that the US crew essentially was tricked into allowing the Somalis to get away with Phillips as their hostage:Up on the bridge, a deal was made.Remember, Muse, who is characterized as the “pirate ringleader” is believed to be as young as 15 or 16 years old. He is facing a trial in federal court in New York. If convicted, there is a mandatory life sentence.
The plan: The pirates would hand over Phillips in exchange for the captured pirate, the man who Perry now believes was the leader. His name is Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse, and he later surrendered and is now in New York facing international criminal charges.
The pirates got into another boat with Phillips, and Muse was brought to them. The problem: The pirates didn’t return Phillips to the ship.
Perry tried to fly under the radar. The only reason he’s telling his story now is so the truth is told and the crew gets credit, he said at his Riverview home, as he lounged in the sun.
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