U.S. federal law enforcement officers finally arrested a Malian Islamist who has been wanted since the end of the Clinton Administration in December 2000 for assassinating an American diplomat posted in Niger, Africa, and severely wounding one of the Marines assigned to the security detail at the U.S. embassy in Niger, according to prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York City following Thursday's arraignment.
The now 43-year-old Alhassane Ould Mohamed, also known as “Cheibani,” was charged with the murder and attempted murder of United States Embassy personnel stationed in Niger and was officially arraigned on Thursday in a Brooklyn federal courtroom, according to the indictment.
The accused assassin had been extradited to the U.S. by the Malian government, which itself in the midst of an armed conflict with that nation's radical Muslims that became so intense that France deployed troops to assist the Malian government in fighting the Islamist terrorists.
According to a statement from U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, and Special Agent in Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York office, “The investigation indicates that the defendant and his confederate brazenly shot and killed diplomat William Bultemeier in Niger, and wounded U.S. Marine Christopher McNeely as he bravely risked his life to attempt to save his colleague.”
“An attack on US Government personnel, whether domestic or abroad, is an attack on the United States,” said Venizelos in an FBI press statement.
According to the federal indictment, on Dec. 23, 2000, Mohamed and his accomplice ambushed members of the U.S. embassy staffer as they left a local eatery.
Mohamed and his fellow Islamist were allegedly armed with a handgun and an AK-47 automatic rifle, and they began to shoot at Department of Defense official William Bultemeier, who was on embassy assignment, as he was about to enter his car, a white SUV with clearly visible U.S. diplomatic license plates, according to the FBI.
The defendant also demanded the car keys while he shot Bultemeier with the pistol, and as McNeely ran to his aid, Mohamed's partner fired his AK-47 and hit both Bultemeier and McNeely.
The attackers searched the two victims’ pockets and then escaped using the embassy vehicle.
Bultemeier died, but the embassy guard, McNeely, survived his gunshot wounds, and upon retiring from the U.S. Marines he held the rank of Master Sergeant.