An Invasion of Paradise

How a mass abduction at an exclusive resort played into jungle warfare across a pirate-filled sea

Easter Sunday was just another day in paradise for James and Mary Murphy of Rochester, N.Y. They had come to the $250-a-night resort of Sipadan Island, off the east coast of Malaysia, to swim among the coral, turtles and parrot fish. But that evening, as they dined with the other tourists, six armed assailants turned up. Shouting "Move it, goddam, move it!" the intruders ordered everyone to swim to boats waiting offshore.

The Murphys were lucky. James Murphy noted that the men did not seem to behave like the pirates who roamed the South China Sea; they showed little interest in...

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