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City of Banjul
Sunday, September 27, 2020

Papa Faal pleads guilty to ‘coup plot’

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The 46-year-old, who holds a dual American and Gambian nationality also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to export firearms from the US without licence. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

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“The intent was not to kill anybody,” Faal said in court. “It turned really violent… We were surprised by the fact that we had more resistance than anticipated.”

Faal, who is living in Minnesota was among the thirteen men who launched an attack on State House on December 30 in what was described by the Gambia government as a ‘terrorist’ attack. 

Four of the attackers were killed in a shootout with government forces, including a former presidential guard commander, Lamin Sanneh and a another retired US army, Njaga Jagne. 

Faal fled the country and was arrested and detained upon arrival in the US. He was later charged together with Cherno Njie, a Texas-based business tycoon. 

Also a dual American-Gambian citizen, Mr Njie, 57, made his initial court appearance in Baltimore earlier last month and is being transported to Minnesota to face charges. He was identified as the financier of the attack and was to serve as the interim leader had they succeeded in ousting the government. 

Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice on Friday announced charges against a third US citizen of Gambian descent, who took part in the attack. 

The court documents reveal that before leaving the US, Alagie Barrow, 41, “participated in conference calls to discuss the operation plan of the coup. Barrow and two others were the primary authors of the operational plan. Had the coup attempt succeeded, Njie and his co-conspirators expected that Njie would have served as the interim leader of The Gambia.”

The criminal complaint explains that several co-conspirators met in the woods near the State House in Banjul and split into two assault teams. At the time, Barrow waited separately with Njie in order to escort him to the State House after the assault team took control of the facility. But, when one of the assault teams approached the State House and fired a shot into the air, the team began taking heavy fire from the guard towers and the plan was unsuccessful. Both Barrow and Njie have returned to the US and been arrested.

The investigation is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and its partners on Joint Terrorism Task Forces in multiple field offices.

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