LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) —  A retired Southland couple who travel around the world distributing Bibles are among four Americans being held hostage by Somali pirates and the U.S. government said Saturday it was assessing possible responses.

Four Americans Captured By Somali Pirates, KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz Reports

Pirates hijacked the yacht S/V Quest on Friday, two days after a Somali pirate was sentenced to 33 years in prison by a New York court for the 2009 hijacking of a U.S. container ship. That case ended in a spectacular rescue when Navy sharpshooters killed two pirates holding the ship’s captain, Richard Phillips.

The S/V Quest is the home of Jean and Scott Adam, a couple who has been sailing around the world since December 2004, according to a website the Adams keep. Two other Americans were also believed to be on board.

The hijacking was first reported by Ecoterra International, which monitors regional maritime activity. Ecoterra reported the S/V Quest was seized 240 nautical miles off the coast of Oman in southwest Asia.

“S/V Quest was attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean and the four Americans on board are being held hostage,” according to Ecoterra. “The sailing yacht was reportedly now en route from India to Mina Raysut, the industrial port of Salalah, Oman.”

KNX 1070’s Bill Polish Reports That Distress Signal Was Sent From Yacht

A self-proclaimed pirate said he expected the yacht to reach Somalia on Sunday. A U.S. military spokesman at Central Command in Florida said: “We’re aware of the situation and we continue to monitor it.”

Matt Goshko, a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, which oversees Somalia, said reports indicate there are four U.S. citizens aboard the Quest.

“All relevant U.S. agencies are monitoring the situation, working to develop further information, assess options and possible responses,” Goshko said.

The Adams — who are members of the Marina del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, California — run a Bible ministry, according to their website, and have been distributing Bibles to schools and churches in remote villages in areas including the Fiji Islands, Alaska, New Zealand, Central America and French Polynesia.

The Adams carry both Catholic and Protestant versions of the Bible, and at several different reading levels. The couple stamps the bibles with “A GIFT from your friends in the United States. Quest Bible Ministry. NOT FOR SALE,” after discovering a teacher who they gave Bibles to sold them.

The pirates from Puntland are not hardline Islamists and the fact the Adams carry Bibles is not likely to be a problem. Pirates in Puntland are known to spend their ransom spoils on alcohol, drugs and prostitutes.

But the prison sentence given to Muse this week could have implications for the four American hostages. Pirates have turned increasingly violent in their attacks, and naval officials say pirates have begun systematically torturing hostages and using them as human shields.

Earlier this week a pirate told an Associated Press reporter in Somalia that pirates would target Americans in retaliation for the sentencing. The pirate, who identified himself by the name Hassan, said Americans would suffer “regrettable consequences.”

The security minister in Puntland condemned the hijacking and called for an urgent rescue operations and for the pirates to be dealt with “relentlessly and mercilessly.”

“We are not capable of stopping piracy. They have expertise and can reach far beyond Somali coastlines. Puntland will do its bests to track them down,” Gen. Yusuf Ahmed Khary said.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (10)
  1. Roy Sonobel says:

    Dear God please keep them well and return them to safety.

  2. James says:

    These Jesus freaks went to an extremely-unstable, predominantly Muslim country to peddle their superstitions and they got kidnapped. I hope nothing bad happens to them, but I think they’re good-for-nothing idiots all the same.

    1. Mufon says:

      James, you’re all heart and a true humanitarian. And you managed to fling all that poo without one unkind word for the pirates. You should be proud.

      1. James says:

        Those pirates have known nothing in their life but civil war and anarchy due to Somalia’s failed-state status. If the U.S. weren’t so intent on making sure the Islamists stayed out of power, then Somalia would have had a stable (albeit Islamist) government by now, and we could have pressured them to clamp down on piracy off their coast. Instead, we supplied Ethiopia with weapons and training so that they could invade their neighbor in an attempt to install a U.S.-friendly government. Mufon, why don’t you place some of the blame on the insurance companies (mostly based in Western Europe) who have made money hand over fist by insuring boats that pass through the Indian Ocean against piracy? I don’t care if the Somali pirates get killed by American snipers, but let’s not pretend that they are acting alone — or that we haven’t played a role in creating the mess in that part of the world.

    2. joke says:

      I’d agree. But was it really 240 miles from the coast???

  3. Scott says:

    Mufon, don’t forget that giant trawlers from the west came in and took most of their fish, and then we dumped tons of our toxic waste into their waters killing the rest. Our plan was that the local Somalis would just watch their children die of starvation rather than turning into pirates, but something went wrong with the plan.

  4. Mike says:

    Them pirates will get to read the good news..aar

  5. Lowell says:

    Say James, if you read more on them you will see that they have made numerous ports of call in other regiions where Christianity is the preferred choice and a Bible is a welcome gift among the poor. They carried both Roman Catholic and Protestant versions so it seems that they are willing to consider more than one option. Having been a pastor for thirty-five years myself I have almost always found the Christian community to be compassionate to the poor and distressed and they continue to be the first response team in most communities of the U.S. to the homeless, the mentally ill, the battered wives, the alcholics and addicts, and the hungry. James, your name is biblical but your anger is opposed to the things of God. Why are you so angry at people who simply do good things for others?

    1. James says:

      I believe that religious folks often do more harm than good when they travel to the third world to spread their superstitious beliefs. I spent time in West Africa with the Peace Corps, and the only other Americans in the area where I was stationed were American Baptists. It seems that they did nothing to discourage the locals’ superstitious beliefs; instead, they added to their beliefs by telling the native population that their own practices were akin to “devil-worshipping.” If someone wants to help poverty-stricken people, it should be done with no strings attached. Sadly, the Christians who travel the world spreading their word are showing the natives of these lands profound disrespect by attempting to change their native beliefs.

      Secondly, Mr. Lowell, how do you feel about the American evangelicals who have gone to Uganda and preached hateful messages against gays in that country? How about the evangelical groups who insist that any anti-AIDS training funds only go to abstinence-only programs, rather than more-effective condom-distribution programs? I am convinced that religious dogma, of any stripe, causes much more harm than good.

  6. Dave says:

    Alcohol,drugs & prostitutes….my kind of pirates!

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