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Saturday, May 25, 2024 | Back issues
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U.S. Charges Two Men |for Gambian Coup Roles

(CN) - Two men were charged in the United States today for their alleged roles in last week's attempted coup in the West African nation of Gambia.

Federal prosecutors say the men, Cherno Njie and Papa Faal, traveled separately from the United States to Gambia to participate in unrest that peaked on December 30, while the country's president, Yahya Jammeh, was visiting Dubai.

Njie appeared in the Federal Court in Baltimore this morning, while Faal appeared in the Federal Court in Minneapolis. Both have been charged with conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Act and conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence.

The coup was put down, and Hammed returned to his country, blaming terrorists and foreign agitators for Gambia's troubles.

According to prosecutors, Faal and Njie were among 10 to 12 members of the conspiracy that entered Gambia to carry out the coup attempt, with the expectation that others in the country would join and assist them.

Prosecutors say prior to departing for Gambia, Faal and others co-conspirators bought multiple firearms, including M4 semi-automatic rifles, and shipped them to Gambia aboard a cargo ship.

Members of the conspiracy also acquired night-vision goggles, body armor, ammunition, black military style uniform pants, boots, and other personal equipment, the government says.

On December 30, Faal and other co-conspirators gathered in the woods outside the Yahya Jammeh's home, dividing into two assault teams to carry out their assault. Njie, meanwhile, stayed a safe distance away, as he intended to take over as the nation's interim leader once the coup was carried out.

The plot collapsed, however, when the assault teams took heavy fire from guards outside the presidential residence. Most of the attackers were killed, while others were injured. Faal and Njie are the only two known to have escaped.

Faal is alleged to have told investigators as long ago as August that he had joined a group of individuals determined to overthrow Jammeh's government, which has long been identified with human rights violations.

On December 23, 2014, the United States removed Gambia from a trade agreement, the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Although the Obama administration did not explain the action, it was widely reported the catalyst was a spate of abuses against journalists, Jammeh's political opponents and homosexuals.

In October, Jammeh signed a law imposing life imprisonment for some homosexual acts, and several people were subsequently arrested.

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