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Tue19Sep61 - Dag Hammarskjöld, CIA shoot down UN SG's plane

 
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:21 pm    Post subject: Tue19Sep61 - Dag Hammarskjöld, CIA shoot down UN SG's plane Reply with quote

UN chief's plane was shot down

Eyewitnesses claim a second aircraft fired at the plane raising questions of British cover-up over the 1961 crash and its causes

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/17/dag-hammarskjold-un-secret ary-general-crash
Quote:

New evidence has emerged in one of the most enduring mysteries of United Nations and African history, suggesting that the UN secretary general, Dag Hammarskjöld's plane was shot down over Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) 50 years ago, and the murder covered up by the British colonial authorities.

A British-run commission of inquiry blamed the 1961 crash on pilot error, and a later UN investigation largely rubber-stamped its findings. They ignored or downplayed witness testimony of villagers near the crash site which suggested foul play. The Guardian has talked to surviving witnesses who were never questioned by the official investigations and were too scared to come forward.

The residents on the western outskirts of the town of Ndola described Hammarskjöld's DC6 being shot down by a second, smaller jet. They say the crash site was sealed off by Northern Rhodesian security forces the next morning, many hours before the wreckage was officially declared found, and they were ordered to leave the area.

The key witnesses were located and interviewed over the past three years by Göran Björkdahl, a Swedish aid worker based in Africa who made the investigation of the Hammarskjöld mystery a personal quest since discovering his father had a fragment of the crashed DC6.

"My father was in that part of Zambia in the 70s, and asking local people about what happened, and a man there, seeing that he was interested, gave him a piece of the plane. That was what got me started," Björkdahl said. When he went to work in Africa himself, he went to the site and began to quiz the local people systematically on what they had seen.

The investigation led Björkdahl to previously unpublished telegrams – seen by the Guardian – from the days leading up to Hammarskjöld's death on 17 September 1961, which illustrate US and British anger at an abortive UN military operation that the secretary-general ordered on behalf of the Congolese government against a rebellion backed by western mining companies and mercenaries in the mineral-rich Katanga region.

Hammarskjöld was flying to Ndola for peace talks with the Katanga leadership at a meeting that the British helped arrange. The fiercely independent Swedish diplomat had by then enraged almost all the major powers on the security council with his support for decolonisation but support from third world states meant his re-election as secretary-general would have been virtually guaranteed if he had lived until the general assembly vote due weeks later.

Björkdahl works for the Swedish international development agency, Sida, but his investigation was carried out in his own time, and his report does not represent the official views of his government. However, his report echoes the scepticism about the official verdict voiced by Swedish members of the commissions of enquiry.

Björkdahl's concludes that:

• Hammarskjöld's plane was almost certainly shot down by an unidentified second plane

• The actions of the British and Northern Rhodesian officials at the scene delayed the search for the missing plane

• The wreckage was found and sealed off by Northern Rhodesian troops and police long before its discovery was officially announced.

• The one survivor of the crash could have been saved but was allowed to die in a poorly equipped local hospital

• At the time of his death, Hammarskjöld suspected that British diplomats secretly supported the Katanga rebellion and had obstructed a bid to arrange a truce

• Days before his death, Hammarskjöld personally authorised a UN offensive on Katanga, codenamed Operation Morthor, despite the reservations of the UN legal adviser, to the fury of both the Americans and British.

The most compelling new evidence comes from eye-witnesses who had not previously been interviewed, mostly charcoal-makers from the forest around Ndola, now in their 70s and 80s.

Dickson Mbewe, now aged 84, was sitting outside his house in Chifubu compound west of Ndola with a group of friends on the night of the crash.

"We saw a plane fly over Chifubu but did not pay any attention to it the first time," Mbewe told the Guardian. "When we saw it a second and third time, we thought that this plane was denied landing permission at the airport. Suddenly we saw another aircraft approach the bigger aircraft at greater speed and release fire which appeared as a bright light."

"The plane on the top turned and went in another direction. We sensed the change in sound of the bigger plane. It went down and disappeared."

In the morning at about 5am, Mbewe went to his charcoal kiln close to the crash site, where he found soldiers and policemen already dispersing people from the area. According to the official report, the wreckage was only discovered at 3pm that afternoon.

"There was a group of white soldiers carrying a body, two in front and two behind," he said. "I heard people saying there was a man who was found alive and should be taken to hospital. Nobody was allowed to stay there."

Mbewe never came forward with this information earlier because he was never asked to, he said. "The atmosphere was not peaceful, we were chased away. I was afraid to go to the police because they might put me in prison," he said.

Another witness, Custon Chipoya, a 75-year-old charcoal-maker, also claims to have seen a second plane in the sky that night.

"I saw a plane turning, it had clear lights and I could hear the roaring sound of the engine," he said. "It wasn't very high. In my opinion it was at the height that planes are when they are going to land.

"It came back a second time which made us look and the third time, when it was turning towards the airport, I saw a smaller airplane approaching behind the bigger one. The lighter aircraft, a smaller jet type of plane, was trailing behind and had a flash light. Then it released some fire onto the bigger plane below and went in the opposite direction.

"The bigger aircraft caught fire and started exploding, crashing towards us. We thought it was following us as it chopped off branches and tree trunks. We thought it was warfare so we ran away."

Chipoya said he returned to the site the next morning at about 6am and found the area cordoned off by police and army officers. He didn't mention what he had seen because: "It was impossible to talk to a police officer then. We just understood that we had to go away," he said.

Safeli Mulenga, 83, also in Chifubu on the night of the crash, did not see a second plane but witnessed an explosion.

"I saw the plane circle twice," he said. "The third time fire came from somewhere above the plane, it glowed so bright. It couldn't have been the plane exploding because the fire was coming onto it," he said.

There was no announcement for people to come forward with information following the crash, and the federal government didn't want people to talk about it, he said. "There were some who witnessed the crash and they were taken away and imprisoned."

John Ngongo, now 75, out in the bush with a friend to learn how to make charcoal on the night of the crash, did not see another plane but he definitely heard one, he said.

"Suddenly, we saw a plane with fire on one side coming towards us. It was on fire before it hit the trees. The plane was not alone. I heard another plane at high speed disappearing into the distance but I didn't see it," he said.

The only survivor among the 15 people on board the DC6 was Harold Julian, an American sergeant on Hammarskjöld's security detail. The official report said he died of his injuries, but Mark Lowenthal, a doctor who helped treat Julian in Ndola, told Björkdahl he could have been saved.

"I look upon the episode as having been one of my most egregious professional failures in what has become a long career," Lowenthal wrote in an email. "I must first ask why did the US authorities not at once set out to help/rescue one of their own? Why did I not think of this at the time? Why did I not try to contact US authorities to say, 'Send urgently an aircraft to evacuate a US citizen on secondment to UN who is dying of kidney failure?'"

Julian was left in Ndola for five days. Before he died, he told police he had seen sparks in the sky and an explosion before the crash.

Björkdahl also raises questions about why the DC6 was made to circle outside Ndola. The official report claims there was no tape recorder in the air traffic control tower, despite the fact its equipment was new. The air traffic control report of the crash was not filed until 33 hours afterwards.

According to records of the events of the night, the British high commissioner to the Rhodesian and Nyasaland Federation, Cuthbert Alport, who was at the airport that evening, "suddenly said that he had heard that Hammarskjöld had changed his mind and intended to fly somewhere else. The airport manager therefore didn't send out any emergency alert and everyone simply went to bed."

Suspicion of British intentions is a recurring theme of the correspondence Björkdahl has examined from the days before Hammarskjöld's death. Formally, the UK backed the UN mission, but privately the secretary-general and his aides believed British officials were obstructing peace moves, possibly as a result of mining interests and sympathies with the white colonists on the Katanga side. On the morning of 13 September, the separatist leader, Moise Tshombe, signalled that he was ready for a truce, but changed his mind after a one-hour meeting with the UK consul in Katanga, Denzil Dunnett.

There is no doubt that at the time of his death, Hammarskjöld‚ who had already alienated the Soviets, French and Belgians had also angered the Americans and the British with his decision to launch Operation Morthor against the rebel leaders and mercenaries in Katanga. The US secretary of state, Dean Rusk, told one of the secretary general's aides that President Kennedy was "extremely upset" and was threatening to withdraw support from the UN. The UK , Rusk said, was "equally upset".

At the end of his investigation, Björkdahl is still not sure who killed Hammarskjöld, but he is fairly certain why he was killed: "It's clear there were a lot of circumstances pointing to possible involvement by western powers.

"The motive was there – the threat to the west's interests in Congo's huge mineral deposits. And this was the time of black African liberation, and you had whites who were desperate to cling on.

"Dag Hammarskjöld was trying to stick to the UN charter and the rules of international law. I have the impression from his telegrams and his private letters that he was disgusted by the behaviour of the big powers."

Historians at the Foreign Office said they could not comment on Hammarskjöld's death. British officials believe that at this late date no amount of research would conclusively prove or disprove what they see as conspiracy theories that have always surrounded the plane crash.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suggest people read the whole article. It is rather humbling... Crying or Very sad

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dag_Hammarskj%C3%B6ld

Quote:
Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld (About this sound Dag Hammarskjöld (help·info)) (29 July 1905 – 18 September 1961) was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author. An early Secretary-General of the United Nations, he served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. He is the only person to have been awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize.[1] Hammarskjöld remains the only U.N. Secretary-General to die in office, and his death occurred en route to cease-fire negotiations. Praised by many, President of the United States John F. Kennedy called Hammarskjöld “the greatest statesman of our century".[2]


Quote:
Hammarskjöld's death was a memorable event. At the site exists the Dag Hammarskjöld Crash Site Memorial, which is under consideration for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A press release issued by the Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo stated that, "... in order to pay a tribute to this great man, now vanished from the scene, and to his colleagues, all of whom have fallen victim to the shameless intrigues of the great financial Powers of the West... the Government has decided to proclaim Tuesday, 19 September 1961, a day of national mourning."[8]


Quote:
On 19 August 1998, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), stated that recently uncovered letters had implicated the British MI5, the American CIA, and then South African intelligence services in the crash.[18] One TRC letter said that a bomb in the aircraft's wheel bay was set to detonate when the wheels came down for a landing. Tutu said that they were unable to investigate the truth of the letters or the allegations that South Africa or Western intelligence agencies played a role in the crash. The British Foreign Office suggested that they may have been created as Soviet misinformation or disinformation.[19]
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

this stuff goes back a long way doesn't it - no sooner had WW2 finished than....



On 19 August 1998, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), stated that recently uncovered letters had implicated the British MI5, the American CIA, and then South African intelligence services in the crash.[16] One TRC letter said that a bomb in the aircraft's wheel bay was set to detonate when the wheels came down for a landing. Tutu said that they were unable to investigate the truth of the letters or the allegations that South Africa or Western intelligence agencies played a role in the crash. The British Foreign Office suggested that they may have been created as Soviet misinformation or disinformation.[17]

On 29 July 2005, Norwegian Major General Bjørn Egge gave an interview to the newspaper Aftenposten on the events surrounding Hammarskjöld's death. According to General Egge, who had been the first UN officer to see the body, Hammarskjöld had a hole in his forehead, and this hole was subsequently airbrushed from photos taken of the body. It appeared to Egge that Hammarskjöld had been thrown from the plane, and grass and leaves in his hands might indicate that he survived the crash – and that he had tried to scramble away from the wreckage. Egge does not claim directly that the wound was a gunshot wound.[18]

In his speech to the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 2009, Colonel Gaddafi called upon the Libyan president of UNGA, Ali Treki, to institute a UN investigation into the assassinations of Congolese prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, who was overthrown in 1960 and murdered the following year, and of UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961.[19]

According to a dozen witnesses interviewed by Swedish aid worker Göran Björkdahl in the 2000s (decade), Hammarskjöld's plane was shot down by another aircraft. Björkdahl also reviewed previously unavailable archive documents and internal UN communcations. He believes that there was an intentional shootdown for the benefit of mining companies like Union Minière.[20][21][22] A US intelligence officer who was stationed at an electronic surveillance station in Cyprus stated that he heard a cockpit recording from Ndola. In the cockpit recording a pilot talks of closing in on the DC6 in which Hammarskjold was traveling, guns are heard firing, and then the words "I've hit it".[23]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dag_Hammarskj%C3%B6ld#Alternative_theorie s

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2016 8:28 pm    Post subject: Assassination of Dag Hammarskjöld, UN Secretary General Reply with quote

Dag Hammarskjöld: Ban Ki-moon seeks to appoint investigator for fatal crash
The UN secretary-general said ‘this may be our last chance to find the truth’ behind 1961 death of his predecessor as UK insists it has no further information

Ban Ki-moon said in a note to the UN general assembly that there were enough unanswered questions in Dag Hammarskjöld’s death to warrant further investigation.
Julian Borger in Washington Thursday 25 August 2016
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/24/dag-hammarskjold-crash-b an-ki-moon-un-investigator

The UN secretary-general has called for the appointment of “eminent person or persons” to pursue an investigation into the death of his predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld in a mysterious 1961 air crash in central Africa.

Declaring “this may be our last chance to find the truth” Ban Ki-moon sent a note to the general assembly, saying there were enough unanswered questions arising from the crash to warrant further investigation and that the responses of the UK, US and Belgium (the major powers in the region at the time) to a UN request for archive material “do not appear to alter” that conclusion.

Dag Hammarskjöld: evidence suggests UN chief's plane was shot down
Read more
In particular Ban noted that the UK had stuck to its position last year that it had no further documentation to show the UN investigation. He appended a letter sent in June by the British permanent representative to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, saying “our position remains the same and we are not able to release the materials in question without any redactions”.

Rycroft added “the total amount of information withheld is very small and most of the redactions only consist of a few words”.

The wording of the letter echoed a similar letter, turning down the UN request for more information, the UK sent in June 2015, which said that “no pertinent material” had been found in a “search across all relevant UK departments”.

In reply the UN legal counsel, Miguel de Serpa Soares, reminded Rycroft of the shared responsibility of the UN and its member states “to pursue the full truth” about Hammarskjöld’s death, and asked him to confirm that the search of “all relevant UK departments” included security and intelligence agencies.

In reply, Rycroft simply quoted the former UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond telling parliament that the foreign office had “coordinated a search across all relevant UK government departments”.

“I think the British response is extraordinary. It’s very brisk and curt and evasive,” said Susan Williams, a British historian at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, whose book Who Killed Hammarskjöld: The UN, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa, revealed new evidence that helped persuade the UN to open a new investigation into the crash near Ndola, in what was then the British colony of Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.

Part of that evidence was a report from a British intelligence officer, Neil Ritchie, who was in the area at the time of the crash and who was trying to organise a meeting between Hammarskjöld and a rebel leader from neighbouring Congo, where the UN secretary general was trying to broker a truce.

“This was British territory and they had a man on the ground. It doesn’t make them responsible for the crash but it does indicate they knew a lot of what was going on,” Williams said, adding it was “highly unlikely” that Ritchie’s report which she found in an archive at Essex University, was the only British intelligence report coming the area at the time.

In suggesting that the UN investigation continues under “an eminent person or persons” chosen by the general assembly or himself, Ban said: “Seeking a complete understanding of the circumstances is our solemn duty to my illustrious and distinguished predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, to the other members of the party accompanying him, and to their families.”

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RAF veteran ‘admitted 1961 killing of UN secretary general’
Exclusive: Cold case documentary casts new light on mystery of Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane crash
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/12/raf-veteran-admitted-kil ling-un-secretary-general-dag-hammarskjold-in-1961

‘Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to…’
Emma Graham-Harrison, Andreas Rocksen and Mads Brügger
Sat 12 Jan 2019 12.59 EST Last modified on Sat 12 Jan 2019 18.45 EST

New evidence has emerged linking an RAF veteran to the death in 1961 of the UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld in a mysterious plane crash in southern Africa.

Jan van Risseghem has been named as a possible attacker before, but has always been described simply as a Belgian pilot. The Observer can now reveal that he had extensive ties to Britain, including a British mother and wife, trained with the RAF and was decorated by Britain for his service in the second world war.

Film-makers investigating the 1961 crash for a documentary, Cold Case Hammarskjöld, have found a friend of Van Risseghem who claimed the pilot confessed to shooting down the UN plane. They also gathered testimony from another pilot that undermines one of his alibis for that night.

Van Risseghem, whose father was Belgian, escaped occupied Europe at the start of the war to join the resistance in England. He trained with the RAF and flew missions over Nazi-held areas. During this period he met and married his British wife, cementing a lifelong connection.

Man accused of shooting down UN chief: ‘Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to…’

At the end of the war the couple returned to Belgium, but by 1961 Van Risseghem was in the Congo, flying for separatist rebels who had declared independence for the breakaway province of Katanga. There, the documentary claims, he was ordered to shoot down a plane carrying Hammarskjöld, who was on a secret midnight journey to try to broker peace. The film will premiere at the Sundance festival in two weeks.


It was not clear at the time of the crash, which also killed all 15 people travelling with the secretary general, if it had been caused by sabotage or was a tragic accident. More than half a century later the UN is still investigating what happened on 18 September 1961. But as news of Hammarskjöld’s death emerged, the RAF veteran was apparently an obvious suspect. He was named as the possible attacker by the US ambassador to the Congo, in a secret cable sent the day of Hammarskjöld’s death and only recently declassified.

Jan van Risseghem
Jan van Risseghem’s alibi has been questioned by one of his colleagues.
For decades, Van Risseghem appeared to have proof that he wasn’t flying in the region on the night Hammarskjöld’s plane, the Albertina, came down outside Ndola in Zambia, then called Northern Rhodesia.

Flight logs – meticulous records of where and when he flew – appear to show Van Risseghem was not flying for most of that month, returning to duty only on 20 September. However, Roger Bracco, another mercenary flying for the Katangese, told filmmakers that his colleague’s logbooks are dotted with apparent forgeries.


He does not believe that Van Risseghem shot down Hammarskjöld. But when asked in an interview for the film if he considered the logbook a fake, he responds: “I won’t say so, but … I didn’t recognise the story [it told].” Leafing through the book, he later directly accuses Van Risseghem of forgery. “This is fake,” Bracco says bluntly of one flight destination, and goes on to add that some of the names listed for co-pilots are not real.

Swedish soldiers carry Hammarskjöld’s body from a plane
Swedish soldiers carry Hammarskjöld’s body from a plane at Stockholm’s Bromma airport on 18 September 1961. Photograph: AP
A friend has also come forward to claim that, less than a decade after Hammarskjöld’s death, Van Risseghem told him he had attacked the plane. Pierre Coppens met Van Risseghem in 1965, when he was flying for a parachute training centre in Belgium. Over several conversations, he claimed, the pilot detailed how he overcame various technical challenges to down the plane, unaware of who was travelling inside.

“He didn’t know,” Coppens said. “He said ‘I made the mission’ and that’s all. And then I had to go back and save my life’.”


Van Risseghem died in 2007. Surviving relatives, including his widow and niece, say he was not involved in any attack. His widow told the Observer that he was in Rhodesia negotiating the purchase of a plane for Congolese rebels and the logbooks provide proof that he was not flying for Katanga at the time.

Van Risseghem was never interviewed by the authorities or journalists directly about the death of Hammarskjöld, but it is clear that he followed news about it closely. In an interview with an aviation historian Leif Hellström in the 1990s, he returns to discuss the crash and details of an official enquiry repeatedly. He emphasises that he was not in southern Africa at the time it happened, and describes the idea of an attack as “fairy stories”.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UN Leader Dag Hammarskjold Died in Mysterious Circumstances in 1961. What Really Happened?
https://www.history.com/.amp/news/dag-hammarskjold-death-plane-crash

New evidence supports a theory that the pioneering U.N. secretary general was assassinated.
BY SARAH PRUITT

Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty images
Shortly after midnight on September 18, 1961, a chartered DC-6 airplane carrying United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold on a peacekeeping mission to the newly independent African nation of the Congo crashed in a forest near Ndola, in the British protectorate of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).
Hammarskjold and 14 other people aboard, including U.N. staffers and the plane’s crew, were killed; a single survivor died of his injuries six days later. Though inquiries by colonial authorities in Africa indicated the crash had been the result of pilot error, rumors of foul play surfaced immediately—and they have not stopped swirling since.
Today, Hammarskjold’s name is emblazoned on several buildings at U.N. headquarters in New York, while his death remains the biggest enigma in the organization’s eventful history. In 2017, the UN commissioned a new investigation of the crash, while the 2019 documentary Cold Case Hammarskjöld explores the long-running theory that Belgian or South African mercenaries may have shot down Hammarskjold’s plane to stop his diplomatic activities in the Congo, possibly even with the backing of U.S. and British intelligence.
Who was Dag Hammarskjold?
The son of a former prime minister of Sweden, Hammarskjold started young in public service, working at the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Sweden and later the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He first became a Swedish delegate to the U.N. General Assembly in 1949, and in 1953 was elected as the second secretary-general, succeeding Trygve Lie of Norway. He was reelected to a second five-year term in 1957.
Hammarskjold was known for his hands-on approach to diplomacy, and his role in shaping the U.N. into an active force in making and keeping peace around the world. In 1954-55, he personally negotiated the release of 15 U.S. soldiers that China, which was not part of the U.N. at the time, had captured during the Korean War. He also helped assuage conflicts in the Middle East, including the Suez Crisis of 1956 and the clash between Lebanon and Jordan in 1958.

Dag Hammarskjold pictured on September 13 1961, just five days before his death, in Leopoldville as part of a peace mission in the region.
AFP/Getty Images
U.N clashes with foreign powers in Congo
In mid-1960, Hammarskjold’s attention turned toward central Africa, where the Belgian Congo had recently become the independent Republic of the Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Shortly after independence was declared, the mineral-rich southern province of Katanga seceded, sparking a violent conflict that would pit U.N. peacekeeping troops supporting the republic’s new central government against Katanga’s separatist forces. The separatists, in turn, were backed by Belgian mining companies seeking control of Katanga’s resources (including uranium).
When Patrice Lumumba, the republic’s first democratically elected prime minister, appealed to the Soviet Union for military support, the Congo crisis also became a proxy battle in the Cold War. Lumumba was kicked out of office and assassinated (with the help of Belgium and the CIA) in early 1961. Shortly before his death, Hammarskjold was in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) meeting with his successor, Cyrille Adoula, when he learned that U.N. forces had launched an aggressive attempt to expel foreign mercenaries from Katanga.
Hammarskjold’s fatal flight
The U.N. attack, codenamed Operation Morthor, angered both U.S. and British authorities, who had not been consulted beforehand, as well as the mining interests backing the Katangese rebels. Hammarskjold arranged a meeting with Moise Tshombe, leader of the separatists in Katanga, to negotiate a cease-fire.
Hammarskjold’s plane, a chartered DC-6 aircraft known as the Albertina, was nearing the destination arranged for the secret meeting with Tshombe when it crashed into the forest early on September 18.
Two investigations into the crash by the British-run Central African Federation, which included Northern Rhodesia, found that pilot error was the likely cause, as the plane had been flying too low when it made its approach to the airport. But an official U.N. inquiry delivered an open verdict in April 1962, stating that it could not rule out sabotage or attack.

Officials search the crash site after the plane carrying Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjold came down near Ndola in Northern Rhodesia (later Zambia), resulting in his death, in September 1961. Hammarskjold was on his way to negotiate a ceasefire with President Moise Tshombe of Katanga.
Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Why people suspect foul play
Questions surrounded the crash from the first. For one thing, writes Susan Williams in her 2011 book Who Killed Hammarskjold?, the British high commissioner at Ndola, Lord Alport, showed little concern after the U.N. plane failed to land at its scheduled time, instead insisting that Hammarskjold had decided to go elsewhere. Then there was the fact that search for the plane’s wreckage and crash site didn’t begin for hours after the crash, though witnesses had reported seeing a great flash in the sky soon after midnight.
Local residents in the area had seen a second plane in the sky that night, but their testimony was discounted or ignored by colonial authorities, the Guardian reported in 2011. The crash’s sole survivor, U.N. security officer Harold Julien, also spoke before he died of an explosion on board the plane, but the authorities assumed he was too ill and sedated to be taken seriously.
Two days after Hammarskjold's death, former U.S. President Harry Truman insinuated to reporters that the U.N. leader had been assassinated, saying he “was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said ‘when they killed him.’”
Children eagerly gather to shake hands with visiting United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold on January 17, 1961 in Ridgeville, South Africa. Hammarskjold was making a tour of Pretoria province following talks with South African Prime Minister Verwoerd.
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Theories on who was responsible
Such uncertainties have fueled several long-running conspiracy theories, centered around the powerful groups inside and outside Africa who hadn’t wanted Hammarskjold’s peacekeeping efforts in Congo to succeed.
According to one popular theory, Katangese separatists ordered a Belgian mercenary pilot, Jan van Risseghem, to shoot down the secretary-general’s plane. Van Risseghem was mentioned as a possible suspect in a cable sent by the U.S. ambassador to Congo just hours after the crash (but not declassified until 2014). But he was never interviewed by authorities about the crash; apparently flight logs gave him an alibi by showing he had not been flying at the time, and there are questions about whether he was even in the region.
Another long-standing theory centers on documents released from apartheid-era South Africa in the late 1990s, which suggest that a white militia group called the South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR) orchestrated the plane crash that killed Hammarskjold—with the support of both British intelligence and the CIA. Though British officials claimed that the documents were likely Soviet forgeries, the theory has persisted.
Both theories are addressed in the 2019 documentary, Cold Case Hammarskjold. The film contains interviews that suggest the flight logs were forged and that van Risseghem (who died in 2007) admitted his involvement in the crash to a friend named Pierre Coppens four years later. A former SAIMR member recalls the group’s claims of successfully taking Hammarskjold down.
A new U.N. investigation
After former Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon took the lead in calling for renewed investigations, the U.N. appointed Mohamed Chande Othman, a Tanzanian judge, to review the crash in 2017. Othman didn’t reach a definitive conclusion, but later that year he reported that “it appears plausible that an external attack or threat may have been a cause of the crash, whether by way of a direct attack…or by causing a momentary distraction of the pilots.”
Othman’s inquiry was relaunched under U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in 2018. Amid calls for countries around the world to be transparent and cooperate with his investigations, the New York Times reported that the Swedish government blocked a researcher’s request for access to related official documents on national security grounds—suggesting that even in Hammarskjold’s native land, there is still much that remains hidden in the long-running mystery of his death.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

South Africa must investigate the death of Dag Hammarskjöld
https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2020-02-09-south-africa-mu st-investigate-the-death-of-dag-hammarskjold/

UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld was one of only four people to have been posthumously awarded a Nobel Prize (for Peace), and was described by the then-US president, John F Kennedy, as ‘the greatest statesman of our century’. His death in 1961 has sparked many theories, among them that a South African right-wing paramilitary organisation, or South African mercenaries, were responsible.

Shortly after midnight on 18 September 1961, a plane crashed when approaching Ndola, a mining town in Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia) bordering the Congo. On board were UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and 15 other people. They were on their way to meet Moïse Tshombe, leader of the secessionist Katanga Province, to find a solution to the conflict in the Congo.

All but one of those on board died in the wreckage. The bodyguard Harold Julien succumbed to his injuries six days later in a local hospital. He could have been saved if treated properly. His eyewitness report of the crash was also neglected.

Foul play was not ruled out. The inquiry by a United Nations Commission noted that “the Rhodesian inquiry… had reached the conclusion that the probable cause of the crash was pilot error. The Commission, while it cannot exclude this possibility, has found no indication that this was the probable cause of the crash.”

UN Resolution 1759 (XVII) of 26 October 1962 therefore tasked the secretary-general “to inform the General Assembly of any new evidence which may come to his attention”. This left the door open for a return to the matter.

Fifty years later, Susan Williams published a book which pointed to omissions, flaws and failures of the earlier investigations. It triggered a new inquiry conducted by an independent commission of jurists. It submitted its report in 2013.

As a result, official investigations by the United Nations were resumed. The United Nations Association Westminster Branch in London has since then provided regular updates on developments.

In 2017, the former Chief Justice of Tanzania, Mohamed Chande Othman, was appointed as Eminent Person, tasked with further investigations. He concluded in his first report that an aerial attack “would have been possible using resources existing in the area at the time” and “that there is likely to be much relevant material that remains undisclosed”.

Othman identified “the continued non-disclosure of potentially relevant new information in the intelligence, security and defence archives of Member States” as “the biggest barrier to understanding the full truth”. He stressed that “the burden of proof has now shifted to Member States to show that they have conducted a full review of records and archives in their custody or possession, including those that remain classified, for potentially relevant information”.

In support of Othman’s report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres recommended “that relevant Member States appoint an independent and high-ranking official to conduct a dedicated and internal review of their archives, in particular their intelligence, security and defence archives, to determine whether they hold relevant information”.

Following a Swedish draft resolution co-sponsored by 70 member states, the General Assembly extended Othman’s mandate. He presented his second report in September 2019.

New information, Othman concluded, “highlights the fact that there were many more foreign mercenaries in and around Katanga, including pilots, than had been considered by earlier inquiries”. These had the logistics and necessary conditions (suitable planes and airfields) to intercept the plane. For Othman, “it remains plausible that an external attack or threat was a cause of the crash”.

New information also confirmed that the crash site was discovered much earlier than officially reported – and testifies to the deliberate neglect of the only survivor. As Othman notes, this “calls into question the acts of various Governments directly after the crash and leaves open the issue of why the earlier crash discovery time was not reported”.

Othman based his conclusions partly on reports of the “independent high-ranking officials” appointed by several member states. However, states where most discoveries could be expected did not comply. South Africa finally assigned a high-ranking official at Dirco in May 2019 with the task. But no report has so far been submitted.

Othman therefore recommended:

That an independent person be appointed to continue the work;
That key member states be again urged to (re)appoint independent high-ranking officials to determine whether relevant information exists within their security, intelligence and defence archives;
That a conclusion be reached as to whether member states have complied with this process; and
That key documents be made public.
In December 2019, another Swedish draft resolution was adopted with a record number of 128 co-sponsoring countries (including South Africa, but as before without the support of the US and the UK). It extended Othman’s mandate.

This has a significant symbolic meaning. The Westminster Branch of the UK’s UN Association considers “a record number of co-sponsoring Member States to be a clear indication to those few states which have failed to cooperate”. It should be a strong reminder that it is time for South Africa to deliver.

It is one thing if the US and the UK are unwilling to assess and disclose classified material. The assumption that they want to avoid embarrassment by not sharing what they know is not too far-fetched. But South Africa has long since eschewed the traditions of the apartheid regime.

Concerned about apartheid, Hammarskjöld had visited South Africa in early 1961.

His death was celebrated in the white settler-minority communities. It is inconceivable that local archives contain no information on what happened at Ndola. South African agencies and individuals played an active role in the region. This needs to be closely investigated.

Democratic South Africa should deal with such skeletons in its closet. It must come to terms with a past which is not one of today’s government. As Guterres stated in his letter to the General Assembly:

“It remains our shared responsibility to pursue the full truth of what happened on that fateful night in 1961. We owe this to Dag Hammarskjöld and to the members of the party accompanying him. However, we also owe this to the United Nations.” DM

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Film Review: ‘Cold Case Hammarskjöld’
https://variety.com/2019/film/reviews/cold-case-hammarskjold-review-12 03123358/

Mads Brügger's investigation of the death of Dag Hammarskjöld is a documentary that opens into a looking glass: a conspiracy that chills you.
By OWEN GLEIBERMAN
Official Site: http://www.sundance.org/projects/cold-case-hammarskjold

The vast majority of conspiracy theories have one key thing in common: Investigate them, and they turn out not to be true. But that doesn’t mean all of them aren’t true. “Cold Case Hammerskjöld” is a slow-building documentary mystery that sucks you in like a vortex. It offers several intertwined conspiracy theories, at least one of which, by the sternest reckoning, appears to be grounded in reality. Does that mean everything in the film is true? Maybe not. Yet “Cold Case Hammarskjöld” is a singular experience that counts as one of the most honestly disturbing and provocative nonfiction films in years.

Directed by the Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger, it starts out as an offbeat journalistic inquiry into the 1961 plane-crash death of Dag Hammarskjöld, the secretary-general of the United Nations. Reviving old claims that have dogged the case but have never been proved, the film suggests that the crash was, in fact, engineered — that Hammarskjöld was murdered. Even if you’re young enough that his name strikes nothing but a distant chord, it’s a scary, bracing notion that gets its hooks in you. It makes you think: Could it possibly be true? And, if so, who could have been behind such an act, and why?

“Cold Case Hammarskjöld” sucks us in, but in a circling idiosyncratic way that only fuels its intrigue. Brügger — bald, twinkly, and a tad officious, like the young Donald Pleasance — first appears in a hotel room dressed in a white safari uniform. He tells us that the villain of his story is, yes, a man in a white safari uniform, and that there’s only one photograph of him in existence. (He shows us the photo.) Brügger, a filmmaker with a prankish reputation but, in this case, a deadly serious agenda, may be toying with the audience, but we go with him, because he seems to be in earnest, and he plants the seeds of a criminal enigma that turns out to have shockingly far-reaching implications.

Dag Hammarskjöld was a Swedish economist and diplomat who, in 1953, become the UN secretary-general, a post he held until his death. He had, as Brügger says, the look and aura of a dull Swedish bureaucrat, and many of the UN powers hoped he would be just that; they did not look favorably upon a secretary-general with pointed leanings. But Hammarskjöld turned out to be something of an activist, especially when it came to the African nations that were struggling to free themselves from the yoke of colonialism and forge independent identities.

When Hammarskjöld died, he was on his way to Congo to oversee cease-fire negotiations in the ongoing crisis there. Several background forces were vying for power in Congo, including the Soviet Union and Belgium, Congo’s former colonizer, whose largest mining company was intent on maintaining control of the country’s wealthy mineral resources.

Brügger takes us back to the night of Sept. 18, 1961, when Hammarskjöld’s small plane went down in a field in Zambia, eight miles from the Ndola airport. He tells us that investigators, at the time, dismissed statements by locals who were near the crash when it happened. So Brügger goes back and talks to them, and one after another, in a way that seems guilelessly casual and convincing, they all mention the same things: the sighting of a second plane, a red flash, a shot-like sound.

He also interviews a witness of significant authority: Charles Southall, a former top official in the U.S. National Security Agency, who in 1961 was working at an NSA listening station in Cyprus. Southall heard a recording of the pilot referencing a second plane, and also heard gunfire. Brügger then presents a photograph of consummate creepiness. It shows Dag Hammarskjöld’s bloodied corpse at the crash site, and wedged into his collar is a playing card: the ace of spades. What could this mean? It means something, and when we find out what it’s a true suck-in-your-breath “Whoa!” of an epiphany.

Brügger, lifting tricks from Nick Broomfield and Werner Herzog, knows just how to inhabit the role he’s playing: the cultivated European muckraker as teasing showman. He gathers equipment (a metal detector, two shovels) and heads for the spot where the wreckage from Hammarskjöld’s plane was buried. We think: Is he going to dig up a smoking gun? In a way, he’s still playing us, at once exploiting and tweaking our desire to see a puzzle in which every piece fits perfectly. “Cold Case Hammarskjöld” doesn’t provide that. Yet the film does convince you that the death of Dag Hammarskjöld was, in all likelihood, an assassination, a revelation that becomes the entry point into a larger looking glass.

A key clue emerges from an unexpected place: South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which unveiled, but did not investigate, a tell-tale document from an organization called the South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAIMR). It’s a mercenary group that worked hand in glove with the Apartheid regime, and the document contains what one witness describes as “the manuscript for killing Dag Hammarskjöld.” Brügger, who effectively communicates that he’s discovering this evidence right along with us, then pursues the hidden agenda of SAIMR. Its founder and leader? Keith Maxwell, the man in the safari uniform. He was a trainer of mercenaries and a devout white supremacist; he was also a little nuts. (He liked to dress in 19th-century naval regalia and wrote screw-loose diaries.) And what he was up to, according to the movie, was big. Nothing less than a way to reshape the world on racist grounds.


In the three days since “Cold Case Hammarskjöld” premiered at Sundance, its key claim — which has to do with the spread of AIDS in Africa — has been investigated by several journalistic organizations, notably The New York Times. The Times story that appeared on Jan. 27 debunks a number of the implications of Brügger’s film. I saw the movie several weeks ago (it was pre-screened for critics before Sundance), but have waited to write about it until some of this follow-up information could get out there. My initial experience of watching “Cold Case” was of falling into the seductive quicksand that a conspiracy theory can create. When I saw the movie, I bought the claims Brügger was making. I now believe The New York Times more.

That said, Brügger presents an extensive interview with Alexander Jones, a former SAIMR militia member who makes the shocking claims that “Cold Case” leaves us with. And what was haunting when I first saw the film, and remains haunting, is the intent that Brügger captures. This is what a contingent of people in South Africa, allied with the government, at least wanted to do. And that’s eminently believable. And it chills us. “Cold Case Hammarskjöld” doesn’t offer the last word about the issues it raises. But it’s a movie that should be seen, grappled with, argued with, and experienced, because the questions it plants in us are dark enough to reverberate as powerfully as answers.

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