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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The investigation led Björkdahl to previously unpublished telegrams – seen by the Guardian – from the days leading up to Hammarskjöld's death on 17 September 1961, which illustrate US and British anger at an abortive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”.

Topics
Dag Hammarskjöld

The Observer

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