Crewman who stabbed pirate says he won't go back

ATM Reza was on the Maersk Alabama. ATM Reza was on the Maersk Alabama.
Associated Press / April 19, 2009
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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - ATM "Zahid" Reza, a crewman from a cargo ship hijacked by pirates off Somalia, hasn't decided whether he will continue his career as a merchant marine, but after arriving home Friday he said he's not doing any more humanitarian missions to Africa.

"I'm not going back to Darfur," he told reporters outside the gray clapboard house where he shares an upstairs apartment with his wife and 6-year-old son. "I saw. It's worse. It's more worse. It's dangerous navigation over there in [the] Darfur region."

Reza said he was steering the US-flagged Maersk Alabama, which was carrying food for hungry Africans, when it was attacked April 8 off the Somali coast. He said the pirates were on the bridge before he could hide with other crew members.

"I didn't get a chance to run away," he said. "I was driving the ship, so I had no chance to get away from the captain, from the pirates."

On Thursday, Reza had described how he and shipmates lured a pirate named Abdul to a darkened engine room. During a noisy struggle, Reza said, he stabbed the pirate in the hand.

"I held him. I tied his hands and tied his legs. He was fighting me," said Reza, who is originally from Bangladesh. "There was a lot of yelling, shouting, and screaming. I was attempting to kill him. He was scared. He said he was planning to ask for $3 million. I told him, 'You're a Muslim, and I'm a Muslim.' "

On Friday, he said he used a knife to stab the man, not an ice pick, as had been reported.

He said he had no idea how everything would end, but he was the "most happiest man" when he learned that his ship's captain, Richard Phillips, who was taken by armed pirates onto a lifeboat, had been saved by Navy snipers.

Reza began working as a merchant marine in 1989.

With neighborhood children holding up a "Welcome Home" sign behind him, Reza said he was looking forward to some sleep and time with his family.

"I feel now it's peace and quiet," he said. "I'm so glad to see my wife, my son."