Malian National Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Conspiracy to Murder U.S. Diplomat
Alhassane Ould Mohamed, aka Cheibani, 46, a citizen of Mali, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the Eastern District of New York for conspiring to murder a U.S. diplomat stationed in Niamey, Niger, in December 2000.
The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI New York Field Office.
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, in the early morning hours of Dec. 23, 2000, Mohamed and a co-conspirator accosted a group of employees of the U.S. Embassy in Niger as they left a restaurant in Niamey. Carrying a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle, the two men approached U.S. diplomat William Bultemeier as he was about to enter his car, a white sport-utility vehicle bearing diplomatic license plates clearly indicating that it belonged to the U.S. Embassy. After demanding that Bultemeier turn over the keys to the diplomatic vehicle, the defendant and his co-conspirator shot Bultemeier and Staff Sergeant Christopher McNeely, the Marine Detachment Commander for the U.S. Embassy in Niger at the time, who had run to Bultemeier’s aid. Mohamed and his fellow assailant then drove away in the U.S. Embassy vehicle.
Bultemeier died of the injuries inflicted by the gunshot wounds. Staff Sergeant McNeely survived the shooting and later retired from the Marine Corps as a Master Sergeant.
“The defendant and his confederate murdered U.S. diplomat William Bultemeier in cold blood and seriously injured U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Christopher McNeely, who bravely risked his life to attempt to save his colleague,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “Although nothing can undo the pain caused by the defendant’s violent actions, we hope the victims’ families can take some measure of solace in knowing that the defendant is being held accountable for the senseless murder of Mr. Bultemeier and the attack on Staff Sergeant McNeely. The United States takes the protection of its employees stationed overseas very seriously and will continue to work tirelessly to bring those who harm our diplomats to justice.”
“Over the past 16 years, Cheibani evaded full accountability for his murderous actions in taking the life of a U.S. Diplomat,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez. “U.S. employees working overseas understand there are certain risks in representing their government in foreign territories; however, a death sentence should not be one of them. We are extremely grateful to the governments of Niger and Mali, in helping U.S. authorities seek justice for Cheibani’s crime. FBI New York’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, conducted a thorough investigation and collected the necessary evidence to substantiate today’s sentence. Our condolences to the family of Mr. Bultemeier and the families of all crime victims. FBINY will continue to work, day and night, to hold those accountable for their crimes, and prevent acts of terror against our citizens, both domestically and abroad.”
The sentencing took place before U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz II of the Eastern District of New York.
Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Capers in expressing their sincere gratitude to the members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for their thorough investigation, to the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service for the assistance they provided and to the governments of Niger and Mali for their substantial assistance and cooperation in connection with this investigation. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zainab Ahmad, Margaret Lee and Melody Wells of the Eastern District of New York with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.