Mauritanian Terrorist Indicted for the Death of U.S. National in Deadly Mali Hotel Attack and With Providing Material Support to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al-Murabitoun
Defendant Planned and Coordinated Lethal Attacks Against Western Targets in Mali, Including the 2015 Mass Shooting at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako
Fawaz Ould Ahmed Ould Ahemeid, a Mauritanian national also known as “Ibrahim Idress” and “Ibrahim Dix,” was arraigned today in federal court in Brooklyn on a six-count indictment charging him with multiple terrorism offenses, including his roles in the March 7, 2015 attack on the La Terrasse restaurant in Bamako, Mali, in which five people were killed; the August 7, 2015 attack on the Hotel Byblos in Sevare, Mali, in which 13 individuals – including five United Nations workers – were killed; and the November 20, 2015 attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, in which 20 victims were killed, including U.S. citizen Anita Ashok Datar. The defendant, who was transferred to U.S. custody in Mali, arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, on December 9, 2022. United States Magistrate Judge James R. Cho ordered the defendant detained pending trial.
The indictment charges the defendant with the murder of Ms. Datar; the unlawful use of firearms in connection with a crime of violence causing the death of Ms. Datar; conspiracy to provide material support to the designated foreign terrorist organizations al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (“AQIM”) and al-Murabitoun; provision and attempted provision of material support to AQIM and al-Murabitoun; and unlawful use of explosives.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Matthew G. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrest and charges.
“Today, we have made clear that the United States is steadfast in our commitment to bring to justice those who commit barbaric acts of terrorism targeting innocent victims including, as in this case, an American aid worker who was killed more than 4,000 miles from her home in Maryland,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “As a result of our work with our law enforcement partners here and abroad, the defendant now faces justice in a U.S. courtroom for the carnage that was carried out allegedly at his direction.”
Mr. Peace expressed his thanks to the government of Mali for their continued support and assistance throughout this investigation, as well as to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, and United States Department of State.
“Ahemeid planned and executed deadly attacks targeting westerners, including Americans, and will now be brought to justice,” stated Assistant Attorney General Olsen. “Let this be a reminder to any who would use violence against our people: no matter how far you run or how long you hide, we will not relent in our efforts to hold you accountable.”
“The defendant's alleged actions — inhumanely plotting and carrying out ruthless terrorist attacks — were not forgotten and will not be forgiven. The New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and our law enforcement partners are resolute in our determination to ensure those willing to commit heinous acts of terrorism face the consequences of their actions as we seek justice for the victims of the attacks,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.
“International terrorism remains a grave threat to safety and freedom around the world,” stated NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “This indictment details the defendant’s callous disregard for human life, and it reinforces the NYPD’s unwavering commitment to bringing terrorists and all those who support them to justice. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Justice Department’s National Security Division, the FBI’s New York Field Office, and everyone else who worked on this critical, wide-ranging case.”
La Terrasse Restaurant Attack
As alleged in the indictment, the previously filed criminal complaint and other publicly filed documents, Ahemeid joined AQIM in or around 2007. Subsequently, Ahemeid planned and committed at least three major terrorist attacks against Western targets in Mali. On March 7, 2015, Ahemeid, armed with two AK-47 assault rifles, a pistol, and grenades, committed an attack on the La Terrasse restaurant in Bamako, Mali, killing five people. That same day, al-Murabitoun issued a public statement claiming responsibility for the attack.
Hotel Byblos Attack
Following the La Terrasse attack, Ahemeid helped plan and carry out the August 7, 2015 attack on the Hotel Byblos in Sevare, Mali. During this attack, a gunman armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and wearing a suicide vest entered the Hotel Byblos and opened fire. The attack caused the deaths of 13 victims, including five United Nations workers. The gunman was killed in the attack. Al-Murabitoun subsequently issued a public statement claiming responsibility for the attack.
Radisson Blu Hotel Attack
Ahemeid, along with others, planned and oversaw the November 20, 2015 terrorist attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali. On the morning of November 20, 2015, two men attacked the Radisson Blu, a hotel frequented by Western visitors. The attackers, wearing Western clothing and armed with AK-47 assault rifles and hand grenades, moved from floor to floor of the hotel, shooting innocent victims as they progressed. Security forces responded to the scene and both attackers were ultimately killed. The attack resulted in the deaths of 20 victims, including U.S. citizen Anita Ashok Datar. Datar, a guest at the Radisson Blu, was shot multiple times and died at the scene as a result of the gunshot wounds. Datar was a 41-year-old public health expert from Takoma Park, Maryland, who was in Mali working for an international development firm assisting the United States Agency for International Development. In addition to the 20 deaths, the attack also wounded at least seven people. Following the attack, AQIM issued a public statement claiming responsibility for the attacks on behalf of AQIM and al-Murabitoun, stating “Two heroes infiltrating the Radisson Hotel in Mali, may God accept them. #Al-Qa’ida_in_West_Africa #Ansar_al_din #Al_Murabitun,” along with photographs of the terrorists who committed the murders.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Algor and Michael T. Keilty are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Stephanie Sweeten of the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.
Fawaz Ould Ahmed Ould Ahemeid
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-502 (BMC)