Indictment Unsealed for 12-Year Old Murder of U.S. Diplomat by Malian National

The U.S. Attorney’s office declared a reward of $20,000 for any information that would lead to the whereabouts and subsequent arrest of Alhassane Ould Mohamed, a/k/a Cheibani, a Malian citizen who is accused of the attempted murder of a U.S. Marine staff sergeant and the murder of a U.S. diplomat who were posted in Niamey, Niger, in December 2000. Mohamed is also accused of the attempted murder of other Embassy staffers.

The indictment was unsealed in Brooklyn, New York federal court. It was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in conjunction with a spokesman from the FBI, New York Field Office; the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, and the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“U.S. diplomat William Bultemeier lost his life while representing his country overseas and U.S. Marine Christopher McNeely was gravely wounded trying to protect him, all during the brazen armed carjacking allegedly perpetrated by the defendant and his confederate. The sacrifice of Mr. Bultemeier and the courage of Staff Sergeant McNeely in service to their country will not be forgotten. The United States will work ceaselessly to bring those who harm our diplomats and military personnel to justice” commented the U.S. Attorney.

A grand jury in the Eastern District of New York charged Mohamed, an alleged radical Muslim with one count of murdering an internationally protected person and one count of attempting to murder an internationally protected person in a sealed indictment that was returned on September 13. The indictment was unsealed earlier last week.

The indictment specifies that in the post-dawn hours of December 23, 2000, Mohamed and a co-conspirator confronted an assemblage of employees posted at the United States Embassy in Niger as they were leaving an eatery in Niamey, the capital and largest city of the West African country. Armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and a pistol, both men advanced toward Bultemeier, a Department of Defense official, as he was attempting to enter his vehicle. The car clearly displayed diplomatic license plates specifying that it was the property of the United States Embassy. Once confronted, the assailants demanded that the Diplomat give up his keys to the SUV. Upon meeting resistance he shot Bultemeier with the pistol. Detecting the commotion, Christopher McNeely who was the Staff Sergeant for the Marine Detachment Commander for the Embassy at the time, hurried to the Diplomat’s assistance. The unidentified co-conspirator then began firing the AK-47 at McNeely, as well as Mr. Bultemeier. Both men were hit by rounds of automatic fire. Searching through the fatally injured Diplomat’s pockets Mohamed was able to retrieve Bultemeier’s keys. The defendant and his co-conspirator were then able to drive away from the scene.

Staff Sergeant McNeely, though shot several times was able to survive the onslaught of gun shots. A short time after the incident he retired from the Marine Corps holding the rank of Master Sergeant. Regrettably, Mr. Bultemeier died of his injuries caused by the attack.

Our Diplomats face constant dangers when dispatched to countries in regions with hostile intentions toward our government and our way of life. The events that transpired at Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012 may be the most publicized, but numerous aggregates of diplomatic personnel face challenges and peril as they attempt to do their jobs on foreign soil each day.

U.S. Attorney Lynch conveyed her welcome appreciation to the governments of Mali, Niger, and Algeria for their significant help and support regarding the investigation. The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security in conjunction with the FBI is presently organizing with foreign law enforcement to capture the defendant who is currently at large.

FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos, who was present at the announcement of the now unsealed indictment, stated that “An attack on U.S. Government personnel, whether domestically or abroad, is an attack on the United States. The perpetrator of these crimes should always be looking over his shoulders. It is only a matter of time before he is apprehended. The FBI will continue working with its partners overseas to ensure that the defendant is captured and brought to justice.

In a murder which occurs in the United States, it is normally a crime that is prosecuted affording to the laws and procedures of the state in which it transpired. The charge of murder can also be filed on a federal level under certain situations. In particular, a murder case concerning terrorism, interstate activities and federal offenses can and will be acted against by the U.S. Attorney General’s office. Murders that take place on federal property, including an Embassy on foreign soil is left to the jurisdiction of the federal court system.

Other areas external to jurisdiction by a state cover Indian reservations, military bases on foreign soil and killings of American citizens that took place outside the country. A murder that involves preparation and premeditation outside of the United States can also be tried in federal court. An obvious example of this would be the prosecution of a foreign National, deemed a terrorist, whose actions resulted in a death.

A conviction for the charge of murder whether by state or federal courts can produce devastating consequences; from long-termed prison sentences to life in prison and in some cases the death penalty. If you, a friend, or family member is charged with the crime of murder it is essential that you retain a qualified defense attorney who has experience in murder cases to provide the best possible outcome of a trial.

Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer who has tried a multitude of cases throughout his 35 year career. He has offices in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida as well as New York City and is a member in good standing of both the Florida and New York Bars. He is also admitted to practice law in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York and the Eleventh Circuit which includes the State of Florida.

If you require a criminal defense attorney in the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, or West Palm Beach area, Mr. Cohen’s office can provide you with the skilled representation you need.

Mr. Cohen is also listed in the 2014 edition of “Best Lawyers in America

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