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Surviving alleged pirate was leader, crewman says

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - A crew member from a U.S. ship attacked by Somali pirates said the sole surviving pirate from the group counted himself lucky to have raided an American vessel and carried himself as the pirates' leader.

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Maersk Alabama crew member ATM "Zahid" Reza stabbed that pirate, Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse, and guarded him for hours as the struggle ensued off the coast of Somalia.

"He told me then when I was with him that it was his dream to come to the USA," Reza said. Muse appeared in court Tuesday for the first time in the U.S.

"I don't want to see him. Not at all. I hate his face. I could have died," Reza said over a cup of tea athis West Hartford, Conn., home.

Reza said he was steering the Maersk Alabama when it was attacked April 8.

"When I first saw him, he carried himself as the leader. He was asking for directions, how to start(the) engine, and asking for all the crew," Reza recalled of Muse.

Muse spoke in broken English, and mostly spoke to the captain, Reza said.

"He was surprised he was on a U.S. ship. He kept asking, 'You all come from America?' Then heclaps and cheers and smiles," Reza said.

Reza, who immigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh in 1999, said Muse was friendly and smiling atfirst.

"He was the one who was nice to us because two of the other pirates tried to shoot us and hestopped them from shooting," Reza said.

But Muse eventually lost his patience as other pirates failed to arrive, Reza said. Reza and his shipmates lured Muse into a darkened engine room.

During a noisy struggle there, Reza stabbed Muse in the hand with a knife.

Reza stood guard for five hours watching Muse. As the hours passed, Muse begged for mercy andhis life, Reza said.

Muse surrendered to seek medical aid aboard the USS Bainbridge for his hand. "His dreams come true," Reza said, "but he comes to the U.S.not as a visitor, but as a prisoner."


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