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.