PHILADELPHIA — The Somali teenager accused of participating in the hostage-taking of an American ship captain was on his first pirating mission, his father said early Tuesday.

Abdiqadir Muse told The Associated Press that his son had been outside the family’s home in Galka’yo town in Somalia when armed pirates came to get him.

His son, Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse, left with the pirates about a week and a half before he surrendered to the U.S. Navy and ship captain Richard Phillips was rescued on April 12, he said.

Muse said by telephone through an interpreter with the Minneapolis-based Somali Justice Advocacy Center that the pirates lied to his son, telling him they were going to get money. The family is penniless, he said.

“He just went with them without knowing what he was getting into,” Muse said.

He gave his son’s age as 16, which the boy’s mother had previously said. A law enforcement official said he is at least 18, meaning prosecutors will not have to take extra legal steps to try him in a U.S. court.

Muse called his son a good boy and a “very well-disciplined young kid.” He had been going to an Islamic school at the time he left with the pirates, Muse said.

The teenager is in custody in New York awaiting a Tuesday court hearing where he is expected to face piracy and hostage-taking charges.

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