Kounta Dallah is the alleged mastermind of the March 13, 2016, attack on a beach resort in Côte d’Ivoire. The attack, claimed by al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), consisted of gunmen opening fire on beachgoers in the southeastern town of Grand-Bassam, killing at least 19 people.“Mali arrests third man in connection with Ivory Coast beach attack,” Reuters, April 17, 2016, http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFKCN0XE0NJ. On March 22, 2016, Dallah was named as the mastermind of the Grand-Bassam attack during a joint conference held by state prosecutors and the country’s Minister of State and Minister of the Interior.Ange Aboa, “UPDATE 2-Ivory Coast arrests 15, seeks leader of al Qaeda beach attack,” Reuters, March 22, 2016, http://af.reuters.com/article/cameroonNews/idAFL5N16U5RI.
During the conference, state prosecutor Christophe Richard Adou said there was no question Dallah was at the scene of the crime.“Kounta Dallah, le présumé cerveau de l’attaque terroriste de Grand-Bassam,” AIP, March 22, 2016, http://aip.ci/kounta-dalla-le-cerveau-de-lattaque-terroriste-de-grand-bassam/. Though the prosecutor released Dallah’s name and photo, officials were hesitant to disclose details on Dallah’s age, nationality, residence, and place of birth.“Côte d’Ivoire: le suspect principal de l'attentat de Grand-Bassam identifié,” RFI Afrique, March 22, 2016, http://www.rfi.fr/afrique/20160322-cote-ivoire-grand-bassam-attaque-suspect-kounta-dallah-terrorisme.
Since the attacks, Ivorian authorities have arrested 15 people, two of whom stand accused of hosting Dallah.“Kounta Dallah, le présumé cerveau de l’attaque terroriste de Grand-Bassam,” AIP, March 22, 2016, http://aip.ci/kounta-dalla-le-cerveau-de-lattaque-terroriste-de-grand-bassam/. Neighboring Mali has arrested three suspects in connection to the attacks.“Mali arrests third man in connection with Ivory Coast beach attack,” Reuters, April 17, 2016, http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFKCN0XE0NJ.
On March 25, 2016, Dallah was falsely reported to have been arrested, when a man who purportedly looked like Dallah was stopped by security forces while traveling to Port Bouet, a suburb of Abidjan. The man was cleared of charges soon after his arrest.“Urgent Urgent Urgent – Kounta Dallah aurait été arrêté vendredi dans un car de transport à Port Bouët : Kounta Dallah, présumé cerveau de l’attentat terroriste de Grand Bassam, aurait été arrêté selon une source sécuritaire (25/03),” Ivoirebusiness.net, March 25, 2016, http://www.ivoirebusiness.net/breves/urgent-urgent-urgent-%E2%80%93-kounta-dallah-aurait-%C3%A9t%C3%A9-arr%C3%AAt%C3%A9-vendredi-dans-un-car-de-transport-%C3%A0; “Attaque de Bassam: L'homme arrêté ne serait pas Kunta Dallah,” Ivoirebusiness.net, March 26, 2016, http://www.ivoirebusiness.net/articles/attaque-de-bassam-lhomme-arr%C3%AAt%C3%A9-ne-serait-pas-kunta-dallah.
Dallah remains at large. A manhunt for him is ongoing.