4 US citizens sentenced for attempted Gambian coup
13 May 2016, 12:57
Minneapolis – Four US citizens were sentenced in federal court for
their roles in a failed attempt to overthrow the government in the West African
nation of Gambia, the US attorney's office said on Thursday.
The men were sentenced for conspiring to violate the Neutrality
Act, which makes it illegal to take military action against a country with
which the United States is "at peace." The charges stemmed from a Dec
30, 2014, coup attempt in the former British colony, which came as longtime
President Yahya Jammeh was away.
"These defendants conspired to overthrow a foreign
government," US Attorney Andrew Luger said in a statement.
"Regardless of the legitimacy of their personal and emotional connections
to The Gambia, these men placed countless innocents in harm's way when they
engaged in a brazen and fatally flawed attempt at regime change."
Cherno Njie, 58, of Lakeway, Texas, was sentenced to a year and a
day in prison. Prosecutors say Njie was a financier and would have served as
the interim leader of Gambia had the coup succeeded.
Alagie Barrow, 43, of Lavergne, Tennessee, and Banke Manneh, 43,
of Jonesboro, Georgia, were each sentenced to six months in prison. Papa Faal,
47, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, a former member of the US military, was
sentenced to time served.
Faal, a dual citizen of the US and Gambia, admitted in court that
he participated in the attack on Gambia's State House. Three other members of
the conspiracy were killed, the US attorney's office said.
According to the defendants' guilty pleas and court documents, the
coup plotting began in at least 2013. Prosecutors say Njie, Manneh and Barrow
led the effort to research, plan, supply and execute the coup.
The defendants planned the coup by phone, email or face-to-face at
Njie's home in Texas, court documents said. According to an FBI affidavit, a
search of Njie's home revealed a spreadsheet that suggested Barrow, a former
member of the Tennessee Army National Guard, may have received more than $125 000
to support the operation. At Barrow's home, authorities found a book about
planning a coup.