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Sunday, April 14, 2024

A Movie, A Prison, and Connections

Last weekend my oldest son and I watched Captain Phillips, nominated for six Academy Awards. The movie, starring Tom Hanks, is based on the true story of the 2009 pirate hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, whose merchant mariner Captain Philips was taken hostage (in the Alabama’s life boat) in the Indian Ocean, led by Adbuwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi).

The siege ended after a rescue by the U.S. Navy on April 12, 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered the marksmen shootings of three of the pirates.

A footnote in the movie’s credits informs that the real Muse, whose full name is Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, is in a U.S. prison in Terre Haute, Ind., serving a nearly 34-year sentence for his role in the hijacking.

That piqued my interest.  The USP Terre Haute is a high-security federal prison for male inmates. It also houses a Special Confinement Unit for federal inmates serving a death sentence.

I wondered what life would be like for a 23-year-old Somalian pirate living in a federal prison in the middle of America.  I contacted the prison’s administrator, who replied the Federal Bureau of Prisons would not comment.

Many high profile criminals have been housed at USP Terre Haute, including  terrorist Timothy McVeigh, convicted for killing 168 people (19 children) in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Evansville native Larry Mackey, now an attorney with the Indianapolis firm, Barnes & Thornburg, served on the legal prosecution team, delivering the trial’s closing arguments. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, at the USP Terre Haute, the first federal prisoner to be executed by the federal government since 1963.

Mackey recently visited Evansville to promote the annual Dan Scism Golf Scholarship, of which he was the second recipient in 1968.

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