nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Cheibani (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 26, 2016) (25-year sentence for attack on US diplomat in Mali)

April 26, 2016

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Alhassane Ould Mohamed, aka Cheibani, 46, a citizen of Mali, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the Eastern District of New York for conspiring to murder a U.S. diplomat stationed in Niamey, Niger, in December 2000.

The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers of the Eastern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez of the FBI New York Field Office.

According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, in the early morning hours of Dec. 23, 2000, Mohamed and a co-conspirator accosted a group of employees of the U.S. Embassy in Niger as they left a restaurant in Niamey. Carrying a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle, the two men approached U.S. diplomat William Bultemeier as he was about to enter his car, a white sport-utility vehicle bearing diplomatic license plates clearly indicating that it belonged to the U.S. Embassy. After demanding that Bultemeier turn over the keys to the diplomatic vehicle, the defendant and his co-conspirator shot Bultemeier and Staff Sergeant Christopher McNeely, the Marine Detachment Commander for the U.S. Embassy in Niger at the time, who had run to Bultemeier’s aid. Mohamed and his fellow assailant then drove away in the U.S. Embassy vehicle.

Bultemeier died of the injuries inflicted by the gunshot wounds. Staff Sergeant McNeely survived the shooting and later retired from the Marine Corps as a Master Sergeant.

“The defendant and his confederate murdered U.S. diplomat William Bultemeier in cold blood and seriously injured U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Christopher McNeely, who bravely risked his life to attempt to save his colleague,” said U.S. Attorney Capers. “Although nothing can undo the pain caused by the defendant’s violent actions, we hope the victims’ families can take some measure of solace in knowing that the defendant is being held accountable for the senseless murder of Mr. Bultemeier and the attack on Staff Sergeant McNeely. 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.”

“Over the past 16 years, Cheibani evaded full accountability for his murderous actions in taking the life of a U.S. Diplomat,” said Assistant Director in Charge Rodriguez. “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.”

The sentencing took place before U.S. District Judge William F. Kuntz II of the Eastern District of New York.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin joined U.S. Attorney Capers in expressing their sincere gratitude to the members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for their thorough investigation, to the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service for the assistance they provided and to the governments of Niger and Mali for their substantial assistance and cooperation in connection with this investigation. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zainab Ahmad, Margaret Lee and Melody Wells of the Eastern District of New York with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

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nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Wright (D. Mass. April 21, 2016) (superseding indictment in ISIL-related terrorism case)

April 23, 2016

The press release appears below, and the superseding indictment is attached.

WASHINGTON – Today, David Daoud Wright, aka Dawud Sharif Abdul Khaliq, aka Dawud Sharif Abdul Khaliq, 26, of Everett, Massachusetts, and Nicholas Alexander Rovinski, aka Nuh Amriki, aka Nuh Andalusi, 25, of Warwick, Rhode Island, were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts and Special Agent in Charge Harold H. Shaw of the FBI’s Boston Division.

This charge, as well as additional conspiracy allegations, were included in a new superseding indictment against Wright and Rovinski today. A grand jury in June 2015, charged them with conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The indictment also charged Wright with conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

Wright and Rovinski are charged with conspiring with each other, known and unknown conspirators, and Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, 26, Wright’s uncle, to provide material support to ISIL and commit acts of terrorism that transcended national boundaries. On June 2, 2015, Rahim was shot and killed after he attacked law enforcement officers in a Roslindale, Massachusetts, parking lot.

The superseding indictment alleges that, beginning in at least February 2015, Wright began discussing ISIL’s call to kill non-believers in the United States with Rahim and Rovinski and they began plotting and recruiting members for their “martyrdom” operation. In March 2015, Wright drafted organizational documents for a “Martyrdom Operations Cell” and conducted Internet search queries about firearms, the effectiveness of tranquilizers on human subjects and the establishment of secret militias in the United States. Simultaneously, Rahim was communicating with ISIL members overseas, including Junaid Hussain. On Aug. 24, 2015, Hussain was killed in an airstrike in Raqqah, Syria.

As alleged in the indictment, beginning in or about May 2015, Hussain allegedly communicated directly with Rahim. Rahim in turn communicated Hussain’s instructions to Wright, with regard to the murder of an individual residing in New York. Wright, Rovinski and Rahim each allegedly conspired to commit attacks and kill persons inside the United States on behalf of ISIL. In preparation for their attack, Rovinski conducted research on weapons that could be used to behead their victims. Since being arrested, Rovinski has sought to continue their planned attacks and has written letters to Wright from prison discussing ways to take down the U.S. government and decapitate non-believers.

The charge of conspiracy to provide material support provides a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a lifetime term of supervised release and a $250,000 fine; conspiracy to obstruct justice provides a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine; obstruction of justice provides a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine; conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries provides a maximum sentence of life in prison, lifetime supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

This investigation is being conducted by the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the Rhode Island JTTF with critical assistance from the Boston Police Department; Boston Regional Intelligence Center; Massachusetts State Police; Commonwealth Fusion Center; Everett Police Department; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Rhode Island State Police; Warwick, Rhode Island, Police Department; Rhode Island Fusion Center; Naval Criminal Investigative Service; and member agencies of the JTTF.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney B. Stephanie Siegmann of the District of Massachusetts’s National Security Unit and Trial Attorney Greg R. Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the court of law.

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Wright Indictment.pdf