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Press Release

Malian National Sentenced Today In Brooklyn Federal Court To 25 Years For Conspiracy To Murder A U.S. Diplomat

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York

Earlier today, Alhassane Ould Mohamed, also known as “Cheibani,” a citizen of Mali, was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, for conspiring to murder a United States diplomat stationed in Niamey, Niger, in December 2000. 

The sentence was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Diego G. Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to court filings and facts presented during the guilty plea proceeding, in the early morning hours of December 23, 2000, the defendant and a co-conspirator accosted a group of employees of the United States Embassy in Niger as they left a restaurant in Niamey, Niger.  Carrying a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle, the two men approached Department of Defense official 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 United States Embassy.  After demanding that Mr. Bultemeier turn over the keys to the diplomatic vehicle, the defendant and his co-conspirator shot Mr. Bultemeier and Staff Sergeant Christopher McNeely, the Marine Detachment Commander for the United States Embassy in Niger at the time, who had run to Mr. Bultemeier’s aid.  The defendant and his fellow assailant then drove away in the United States Embassy vehicle.

Mr. 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,” stated United States 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.”  Mr. Capers expressed his 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 the investigation.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez stated, “Over the past 16 years, Cheibani evaded full accountability for his murderous actions in taking the life of a U.S. Diplomat.  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.” 

Today’s sentencing took place before United States District Judge William F. Kuntz, II.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s National Security & Cybercrime Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Zainab Ahmad, Margaret Lee, and Melody Wells are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by the Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section and by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.

The Defendant:

Age:  46

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 13-527 (WFK)

Updated April 26, 2016

National Security