US Charges Texas Businessman For Gambia Coup Attempt

US Charges Texas Businessman For Gambia Coup Attempt

From Reuters

Federal prosecutors on Monday charged a Texas businessman who allegedly wanted to be the president of Gambia with conspiring with a former U.S. Army sergeant and others to orchestrate a deadly coup attempt in the tiny African nation last week.

The handful of coup plotters headed and bankrolled by housing developer Cherno Njie, 57, of Austin, had expected presidential palace guards to flee at a shot in the air when they attacked on Dec. 30, according to a federal complaint.

But guards returned fire, killing one group of attackers, and sympathetic Gambian soldiers failed to show up as expected. The rest of the 10 to 12 conspirators fled, their hopes shattered for a bloodless overthrow of President Yahya Jammeh and a restoration of democracy, the court document said.

Federal prosecutors in Minnesota charged Njie and Papa Faal, 46, a former U.S. Army sergeant from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, with conspiring to carry out a coup and a weapons violation. Both are U.S. citizens with ties to Gambia.

“The United States strongly condemns such conspiracies. With these serious charges, the United States is committed to holding them fully responsible for their actions,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

Jammeh, who took power in a coup 20 years ago and wields tight control of the impoverished nation, has said the attack was carried out by “terrorist groups backed by some foreign powers.”

After the coup bid, the United States and the United Nations both condemned any attempts to seize power.

A U.S. criminal complaint said Njie had planned to serve as leader of Gambia, an nation of about 1.8 million people and the smallest country on mainland Africa.

Read more at Reuters