Malian National with Ties to Boko Haram get 25 Years for Diplomat Murder Conspiracy
A Malian national received 25 years in U.S. prison after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to kill an American diplomat in Niger.
Prosecutors with the Department of Justice announced the sentence Tuesday for Alhassane Ould Mohamed, aka Cheibani, 46, for his involvement in a conspiracy to murder William Bultemeier, a defense attache system operations coordinator working at the U.S. embassy in Niger.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York said.
Prosecutors said Cheibani and his accomplice confronted a group of U.S. Embassy in Niger employees in the early morning hours of Dec. 23, 2000 as they left a restaurant and walked toward their car. Armed with a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle, the assailants made Bultemeier hand over the keys to his sport utility vehicle with clearly marked U.S. diplomatic license plates.
Cheibani and his conspirator then shot Bultemeier and Staff Sergeant Christopher McNeely, the Marine Detachment Commander for the U.S. Embassy in Niger at the time, and fled the scene in the diplomat’s SUV.
Bultemeier died from gunshot wounds, but McNeely survived.
“Over the past 16 years, Cheibani evaded full accountability for his murderous actions in taking the life of a U.S. Diplomat,” said Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI New York Field Office. “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.”
Malian police arrested Cheibani, but he escaped from custody in May 2002, according to prosecutors.
Eight years later, he was arrested in Mali due to his involvement in an attack on Saudi Arabian officials in Niger that left four dead. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison, yet escaped again in June 2013 thanks to an assault coordinated by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, prosecutors said.
Cheibani was also connected to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, among other militant groups.
French forces in Northern Mali arrested him in November 2013, and he was extradited to the United States in March 2014.
Posted in The Takedown