By Frederick H. Lowe
The U. S. Attorney General’s Office has charged two men with allegedly attempting to overthrow the government of Gambia, a country in West Africa, which has an abysmal human rights record.
Cherno Njie, 57, a U.S. citizen of Gambian descent, and Papa Faal, 46, who holds dual citizenships in the U.S. and Gambia, have been charged with conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Act and Conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence, according to a criminal complaint filed Jan. 5.
Njie appeared in U.S. District Court in Baltimore and Faal heard charges against him in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Faal, a former U.S. soldier, is a resident of Brooklyn Center, Minn. and Njie, a businessman, lives in Austin,Texas.
The two men appeared before federal judges for their alleged roles in the Dec. 30, 2014, coup attempt by taking over the State House in Banjul, which is home to Gambia President Yahya Jammah. In 1994, Jammah seized power in Gambia, a country bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Senegal.
Njie, who provided financing for the coup, arrived in the country on a separate plane from Faal. Prior to leaving the U.S., Faal and others purchased multiple firearms, including M4 semi-automatic rifles shipped to the country, which is called The Gambia.
Two assault teams met in the woods near the State House. Njie did not join them but he was picked to become the country’s president should coup succeed.
One of the members of the assault team fired a shot into the air and they were met with heavy gun fire from guards in towers protecting the State House.
Several members of assault teams were killed or wounded, but Faal and Njie escaped and returned to the U.S., where they were arrested, according to Attorney General’s office.
Attorney General Eric Holder said that. attempting the overthrow of a foreign country violates U.S. Law.
“The United States strongly condemns such conspiracies,” Holder said. “With these serious charges, the United States is committed to holding them fully responsible for their actions.”
Gambia’s recent passage of a homophobic law puts the already persecuted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community at even greater risk of abuse, according to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.