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February 5, 2024Houston, TX, United StatesFirearms, Ammunition and Explosives, National Security

Nonimmigrant visa holder with ties to extremist who attacked Naval Air Station sentenced for federal firearms offenses

HOUSTON — A nonimmigrant visa holder with ties to the extremist who attacked Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in May 2020 and who also discussed the possibility of traveling outside the United States to participate in jihad was sentenced Feb. 1 to more than six years in federal prison for firearms offenses.

FBI Houston; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Houston; the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection Houston; U.S. Customs and Immigration Service; and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department conducted the investigation that led to the conviction and sentencing.

Moctar Ahmadou Gouroudja Ahmadou, a 26-year-old citizen of Niger who is in the United States on a nonimmigration student visa, was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison for unlawfully transporting and possessing a firearm, which violates the terms of his visa. Ahmadou was convicted March 14, 2023, following a jury trial.

In addition to the gun violations, authorities also discovered that Ahmadou had discussions with the individual associated with the attack on Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in May 2020, had downloaded videos about jihad, and had also discussed the possibility of traveling to Palestine to commit jihad.

Ahmadou was admitted into the United States from Niger on March 24, 2016, on a nonimmigrant F-1 visa to study at North American University. As a nonimmigrant student, Ahmadou was not permitted to possess or use firearms or ammunition while in the United States. However, the jury heard that on or around May 17, 2021, Ahmadou handled and fired a handgun at a Texas-based gun range. He also purchased a course called “First Shot,” which provided training on pistol shooting and range time. Immediately after completing the course, Ahmadou rented a Glock 45. He was seen at the firing line at the gun range holding a pistol and shooting downrange toward a target.

On May 18, 2021, Ahmadou returned to the same gun range to handle and fire a rifle. He participated in a course that consisted of firearms safety, manipulation and shooting. He also possessed and shot a Smith & Wesson Model MP15 .223-caliber rifle and purchased and possessed four boxes of Fiocchi .223 caliber ammunition, which he used with the rifle.

Ahmadou has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven Schammel and Richard Bennett prosecuted the case with trial attorney Michael Dittoe of the Justice Department’s Counter Terrorism Section.

For more news and information on HSI Houston’s investigative efforts in Southeast Texas follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @HSIHouston.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.