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Zimbabwe says seizes U.S. plane, "mercenaries"
Reuters | March 8, 2004

Posted on 03/08/2004 6:34:55 AM PST by HAL9000

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has seized a U.S.-registered cargo plane with 64 suspected mercenaries of various nationalities and a cargo of "military material", Home Affairs (Interior) Minister Kembo Mohadi said on Monday.

"A United States of America-registered Boeing 727-100 cargo plane was detained last night at about 19:30 hours at Harare International Airport after its owners had made a false declaration of its cargo and crew," Mohadi said in a statement.



TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 727; africa; airplane; angola; angolans; burundi; congo; congolese; coup; dodsonaviation; equatorialguinea; guinea; johannesburg; lanseriaairport; mercenaries; mercs; miners; mining; mugabe; nguema; pietersburg; plane; pretoria; safrica; simonmann; southafrica; southafricans; teodoronguema; turass; wonderboomairport; zimbabwe

1 posted on 03/08/2004 6:34:58 AM PST by HAL9000
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To: HAL9000
Agence France-Presse -

Zimbabwe seizes US plane

Zimbabwean security authorities today impounded a United States-registered aircraft that landed at the country's main international airport.

The plane had military equipment and 64 personnel aboard, suspected to be mercenaries, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said.

"A United States of America-registered Boeing 727-100 cargo plane was detained last night at about 1930 hours at Harare International Airport after its owners had made a false declaration of its cargo and crew," the minister told a news conference.

"The plane was actually carrying 64 suspected mercenaries of various nationalities," he said.

"Further investigations also revealed that on board the plane was military material."

Mohadi said full details would be issued in due course but that in the meantime investigations were under way to establish the "true identities of the men and their ultimate mission".

The plane had been moved to a military base, he said.

What had been done with those on board was not immediately clear.


2 posted on 03/08/2004 6:37:32 AM PST by HAL9000
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To: HAL9000
Mugabe's attempted suicide?
3 posted on 03/08/2004 6:44:15 AM PST by Seruzawa (If you agree with the French raise your hand - If you are French raise both hands.)
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To: HAL9000
Zimbabwe isn't China. Someone should point out to Mugabe that he doesn't hold any chips to bargain with.
4 posted on 03/08/2004 6:46:44 AM PST by cripplecreek (you win wars by making the other dumb SOB die for his country)
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To: HAL9000
Mercs. Hmmm. It that's true, I wonder who was footing the bill for that operation?
5 posted on 03/08/2004 6:55:08 AM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: HAL9000
Mercenaries... Hmmm, I wonder if they wear white hats or black hats. spec ops doing something?
6 posted on 03/08/2004 7:02:04 AM PST by InShanghai (I was born on the crest of a wave, and rocked in the cradle of the deep.)
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To: InShanghai
On the other hand, this is coming out of the mouths of the Zim government, so it could be anything or nothing at all. If they'd really caught a planeload of mercs and weapons, I'd expect Mugabe to milk it for all the propaganda value that it's worth.
7 posted on 03/08/2004 7:10:38 AM PST by Riley
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To: HAL9000
Zimbabe might regret this little action.
8 posted on 03/08/2004 7:11:27 AM PST by SeeRushToldU_So ( I haven't been outsourced.)
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To: Riley
Could read like a Clancy novel: mercs are really 'Rainbow Six' flying out of South Africa into Somalia... heading for __________ .

In any case, the Zim gov't has just opened pandora's box.

9 posted on 03/08/2004 7:21:22 AM PST by InShanghai (I was born on the crest of a wave, and rocked in the cradle of the deep.)
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To: InShanghai
Ah, I don't know. I couldn't see some international high-end spec ops unit depending on one airplane so heavily without a 'go to hell plan'.
10 posted on 03/08/2004 7:25:39 AM PST by Riley
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To: Riley
;-) you're probably right. spec ops is more professional than that! Besides, sixty-four personnel on a chartered jet with heavy gear would be a bit obvious.

The question now is what color hat band their black hats have.

11 posted on 03/08/2004 7:35:41 AM PST by InShanghai (I was born on the crest of a wave, and rocked in the cradle of the deep.)
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To: Prodigal Son
I wonder hmmm.... (putting on my tinfoil hat)
12 posted on 03/08/2004 7:39:02 AM PST by cyborg (In die begin het God die hemel en die aarde geskape.)
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To: HAL9000; Clive
I don't know what to make of this. I don't want to sound like a tinfoil hat nutter!
13 posted on 03/08/2004 7:40:00 AM PST by cyborg (In die begin het God die hemel en die aarde geskape.)
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To: InShanghai
727-100 capacity is:

Flightcrew of three (two pilots and flight engineer). Typical two class seating for 94, max seating for 131.

Well within capacity, even assuming company-level small arms and say, 3X basic load.

Who has the juice and big interests, financial or otherwise, at stake in Zim?

14 posted on 03/08/2004 7:50:58 AM PST by Riley
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To: Riley
Big Tobacco (no joke).
15 posted on 03/08/2004 7:54:15 AM PST by Cobra Scott
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To: HAL9000
Were the "mercenaries" equipped with cameras and maps to Victoria Falls?
16 posted on 03/08/2004 7:55:42 AM PST by KarlInOhio (Sweetest sound on earth: the clink of a dental hygienist finally putting down the scraping tools.)
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To: HAL9000
AP story:

___________________________________________________

Today: March 08, 2004 at 7:30:37 PST

Zimbabwe Seizes U.S.-Registered Plane


ASSOCIATED PRESS

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabwean authorities have seized a U.S.-registered cargo plane carrying 64 "suspected mercenaries" and military equipment, the Home Affairs minister said Monday.

The Boeing 727-100 was detained at Harare's main airport late Sunday after its owners allegedly made "a false declaration of its cargo and crew," Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mahadi said at a news briefing.

"The plane was actually carrying 64 suspected mercenaries of various nationalities," Mohadi said. "Further investigations also revealed that on board was military material."

The plane was moved to a nearby military base for further inquiries, he said.

Mohadi said full details would be released once officials have established "the true identities of the men and their ultimate mission."

Journalists were not shown the plane, which Mohadi said had been moved to a nearby military base, and the government's claims could not be independently verified.

U.S. Embassy officials said they had not been informed of the incident and were trying to obtain details from Zimbabwe authorities.

President Robert Mugabe repeatedly has accused the United States and Britain of plotting to overthrow his autocratic regime.

--

17 posted on 03/08/2004 8:00:58 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: cyborg
either way it is not good for our side. If their is an american side to this they can then use it as a pawn. Like the guy that was shot down and started the whole iran contra problem.
18 posted on 03/08/2004 8:09:00 AM PST by Walkingfeather
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To: HAL9000
Hokay, let's see here.

A planeload of mercenaries and their cargo of military supplies decides to fly into Zimbabwe's main airport in an ill-fated attempt to do something unkind to Robert Mugabe.

Any group of mercenaries that stupid deserves to get captured.

Always assuming, of course, that the Zimbabwean government's word can be trusted on this matter.

19 posted on 03/08/2004 8:16:45 AM PST by r9etb
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To: Walkingfeather
You're right... if anything it will draw more attention to the Zim crisis and out Mugabe for the commie he is.
20 posted on 03/08/2004 8:20:50 AM PST by cyborg (In die begin het God die hemel en die aarde geskape.)
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To: Riley
A google search revealed that recently:

US Turns Screws On Zimbabwe's Ruling Elite

and

Zimbabwe condemns wider sanctions

Could be leveraging?

21 posted on 03/08/2004 8:22:24 AM PST by InShanghai (I was born on the crest of a wave, and rocked in the cradle of the deep.)
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To: HAL9000
I say either the Frogs or the Zimbobs are full of it. Probably the latter.

I call BS on this one. To convenient and obvious.
22 posted on 03/08/2004 8:47:57 AM PST by VeniVidiVici (Democrats want to ban sex with animals! They may get hurt!)
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To: cyborg
I can't make anything of this.

It doesn't smell right. I have trouble visualizing a merc deployment through Harare International in a US registered aircraft.

Anything that I might guess would be wild speculation, from a Zimbabwe CIO disinformation campaign to an Executive Outcomes or Sandline merc operation hired by the Oppenheimer family.

In any event, Zimbabwe would be a logistics nightmare for an external merc or special forces operation.

23 posted on 03/08/2004 8:52:12 AM PST by Clive
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To: Clive
Bump.
24 posted on 03/08/2004 9:02:02 AM PST by jimt
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To: InShanghai
I wonder what the odds are that this is the same 727 that went missing a while ago from Luanda?

Even if it isn't, the fact that it is US registered, assuming that that IS a fact at all, might not be at all significant. I am given to understand that a lot of aircraft worldwide are US registered for business reasons.

I'd venture to say that if (big 'if') this story has any veracity, we can expect to see a lot of pictures of the aircraft and its occupants piped out through whatever media sources.
25 posted on 03/08/2004 9:25:50 AM PST by Riley
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To: HAL9000
Didn't the Israeli special ops once use a plan involving planes in a hostage rescue?

Sounds to me like Tom Clancy gone bad.

Any more news on this?
26 posted on 03/09/2004 2:46:32 AM PST by drunknsage
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To: drunknsage; All
From CNN:

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwe's government says it has put its army on full alert after seizing a U.S.-registered cargo plane that officials say was carrying 64 suspected mercenaries and a cargo of military gear.

In Washington, a U.S. State Department spokesman said the aircraft had no connection to the U.S. government, and the company listed as the plane's owner said the aircraft was sold recently.

The Boeing 727 was impounded Sunday evening in the capital Harare after authorities concluded its owners had falsely declared the cargo and passengers, who were taken into custody, police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told CNN on Tuesday.

"An investigation to establish the true identities of the men and their ultimate mission is under way," he said. "A full statement will be issued in due course."

A government official who declined to be identified told Reuters: "We have mobilized all our security organs to get to the bottom of this case."

The jet's owner is listed in U.S. aviation records as Dodson Aviation based in Rantoul, Kansas.

Reached at a Dodson facility in South Africa, company spokesman Jim Pippin said the plane was sold to Logo Logistics in South Africa, although CNN did not immediately find a listing for the company in the national telephone directory.

The plane's exact itinerary remained uncertain Tuesday, but authorities told CNN the jet made stops in South Africa at Lanseria Airport, west of Johannesburg, and at Wonderboom Airport, north of Pretoria.

Pippin also said the plane stopped in Pietersburg to pick up a transponder, used for tracking aircraft.

U.S. officials told CNN's Charlayne Hunter-Gault the plane was headed to Equatorial Guinea.

But Pippin said Dodson Aviation was told the passengers were involved in mining operation in Burundi.

Washington critical
Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Ministry said the aircraft was carrying military gear. Items displayed for reporters included camouflage uniforms, an inflatable dinghy, portable radios and tools such as bolt cutters, but there was no indication that the aircraft carried any weapons.

Bvudzijena said those held were of "various nationalities." Sources told CNN those on board included South Africans, Angolans and Congolese.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the U.S. Embassy in Harare was looking into the matter, though there was no indication Americans were among those held.

The United States has been very critical of the government of Zimbabwe and especially President Robert Mugabe.

The United States has accused the Zimbabwe government of waging "a concerted campaign of violence, repression and intimidation, showing its disregard for human rights, the rule of law and the welfare of its citizens."

Earlier this month, Washington imposed new targeted sanctions on several companies owned by members of the Zimbabwe government.

Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 but has drawn sharp criticism over many of his policies, including what many claim are human rights abuses targeting the opposition. (Full story)

Zimbabwe says army is on full alert after seizing U.S.-registered plane carrying 64 suspected mercenaries and a cargo of military gear.

27 posted on 03/09/2004 5:20:03 AM PST by Quilla
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To: drunknsage
I guess Mugabe hasn't kept up on current events. A handful of special forces and Marines could settle his hash in a week. Be careful pulling the tiger's tail, Bob.
28 posted on 03/09/2004 5:25:45 AM PST by Former Proud Canadian
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To: Riley; Cindy; Alamo-Girl; Travis McGee; Squantos; Cincinatus' Wife
Related case?

JUNE 13, 2003 : (STOLEN BOEING 727 CASE) All of a sudden, it become obvious  that the US government has launched an intensive intelligence campaign to find a Boeing 727-200 passenger jet that mysteriously disappeared from Angola's Luanda airport three weeks ago. Since then, the plane's status has discussed every morning in meetings at various intelligence agencies and congressional intelligence committees. While the mainstream press describes the US efforts to locate the missing airliner as "secret', the mystery was first mentioned in the Angolan press on May 28th.
It's also not clear who, or how many people were on board or even who actually owns the plane. The plane's last known registration was for the US (N844AA). The aircraft was built in 1975 and originally operated by American Airlines until late 2001. Her latest registered owner was an aircraft leasing firm based in Miami, Florida, but press efforts to contact the firm were unsuccessful. While firms are legally obliged to inform the Federal Aviation Agency of address changes and any transfers in aircraft ownership, that doesn't always happen and the possibility the plane may have been sold to foreigners.
Some American government officials said the plane belongs to an American living in South Africa, who leased the aircraft to others. Other sources claim that the plane was brought to Angola by a firm called Air Angola, which is owned by a group of current and former high-ranking military officials.  - "INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS: The Mysterious Missing 727 ," http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/howtomakewar/default.asp?target=HTINTEL.HTM

29 posted on 03/14/2004 9:05:20 PM PST by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
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To: piasa
Some American government officials said the plane belongs to an American living in South Africa, who leased the aircraft to others. Other sources claim that the plane was brought to Angola by a firm called Air Angola, which is owned by a group of current and former high-ranking military officials. - "INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS: The Mysterious Missing 727 ," http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/howtomakewar/default.asp?target=HTINTEL.HTM From March 2004 CNN report in another's post above:

...Reached at a Dodson facility in South Africa, company spokesman Jim Pippin said the plane was sold to Logo Logistics in South Africa, although CNN did not immediately find a listing for the company in the national telephone directory....
...U.S. officials told CNN's Charlayne Hunter-Gault the plane was headed to Equatorial Guinea. But Pippin said Dodson Aviation was told the passengers were involved in mining operation in Burundi.... ...Bvudzijena said those held were of "various nationalities." Sources told CNN those on board included South Africans, Angolans and Congolese.

Interesting.

What do they mine in Burundi these days?

Uranium and nickel?

30 posted on 03/14/2004 9:16:24 PM PST by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
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To: HAL9000
Zimbabwe charges 'mercenary' men


Military equipment was reportedly found on the impounded plane
Zimbabwe has charged 60 men, alleged to be mercenaries, with immigration and firearms violations, their lawyer says.
The men were detained after their plane was impounded in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare eight days ago.

Zimbabwe has accused the group of planning a coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. A government minister has said the men could face the death penalty.

Lawyer Jonathan Samkange said a further 10 men would be charged on Monday, adding the men denied all the charges.

He said the men claimed they knew nothing of an alleged coup and had been hired to work as security guards in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Zimbabwean officials had said that the charges against them would include destabilising an independent and sovereign government.

However, Mr Samkange said Zimbabwe did not have a law under which alleged offenders could be prosecuted for an attempted coup in another country, Reuters reported.

Talks


It wasn't a question of taking the life of the head of state but of spiriting him away

Nick du Toit
alleged mercenary leader


Equatorial Guinea: Ripe for coup
Who are the detained men?
On Thursday, Equatorial Guinea Deputy Foreign Minister Jose Esono Micha also asked South Africa for help in the trial of another 15 suspected mercenaries arrested in Equatorial Guinea.

The 15 men seized in Equatorial Guinea were reportedly involved in the same alleged plot.

The company which chartered the plane impounded in Zimbabwe said they had stopped in Harare en route to Burundi and DR Congo where they were due to provide security services for a mine.

But Zimbabwe and South Africa both suspect that the men were part of a plot to overthrow the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

Harare has accused the men of working for US, British and Spanish intelligence agencies, claims which all three countries have denied.

History of coups

The group of detained men consisted of about 20 South Africans, and also Angolans, Namibians, Congolese, one Zimbabwean national and a British national, South African newspapers reported.


Equatorial Guinea and its president have a long history of coups

Equatorial Guinea's president said South Africa had warned him that a group of mercenaries was heading for his country and he suggested that they had had foreign backing of hostile foreign powers and multinational firms.

A man said to be the leader of the "mercenaries" has appeared on Equatorial Guinea state television to say that they had been part of a plot to remove Mr Obiang and put an exiled opposition leader in power.

"It wasn't a question of taking the life of the head of state but of spiriting him away, taking him to Spain and forcing him into exile and then of immediately installing the government-in-exile of Severo Moto Nsa," said the alleged coup leader, introduced as Nick du Toit, according to a transcript released by AFP news agency.

In Spain, Mr Moto, who led a failed coup bid in Equatorial Guinea in 1997, denied any role in the alleged plot but also launched a blistering attack on President Obiang, who himself took power in a coup in 1979.




31 posted on 03/14/2004 9:29:09 PM PST by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
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To: piasa
The source for #31 is : BBC News, March 15, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3511646.stm
32 posted on 03/14/2004 9:39:00 PM PST by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
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To: Quilla
No mercenary charges against 64 men, tiscali news, http://www.tiscali.co.za/tiscali/news/news_story.jsp?content=116328


Harare and Johannesburg, March 11

Officials from Equatorial Guinea arrived in Zimbabwe to discuss the men who are detained as suspected mercenaries and accused of wanting to topple the government. So far only charges relating to immigration, firearms and aviation offences have been considered against the men.
"I can confirm to you that, yes, a delegation from Equatorial Guinea has arrived in Harare," said Pavelyn Musaka, a spokesperson for Zimbabwe's foreign ministry.

She said the delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Jose Esono Micha, who earlier on Thursday spoke to President Thabo Mbeki and Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Pretoria.

On Sunday Zimbabwean authorities detained a Boeing 727 carrying 64 suspected soldiers of fortune. They were said to be on their way to join an advance party of 15 mercenaries arrested in Equatorial Guinea.

The spokesperson did not elaborate on the purpose of the visit, but Zimbabwe's ZIANA news agency said the delegation was in Zimbabwe to investigate the suspects detained in Harare - the 64 aboard the plane and three men who went to meet them.

Bharat Patel, Zimbabwe's acting attorney general, spoke on state radio and did not refer to any laws dealing with mercenaries, treason or national security. But he said final details of the charges against the men "have yet to be worked out with the relevant law enforcement agencies".

He named contraventions under the Aviation Act, the Firearms Act and also in relation to immigration laws. These are regarded as relatively minor offences carrying penalties of fines or short terms in prison.

Patel made no reference to the extensive battery of national security legislation dealing with attempted insurrection, terrorism, treason, espionage or mercenaries.

Legal experts said Patel's reference to the Firearms Act was the first indication that any of the group may have possessed any weapons.

Until now, officials have been saying no weaponry was found on the aircraft. What they described as "military equipment" on board appeared to refer to brightly coloured rucksacks, boots and sleeping bags.

Meanwhile, the SA Police Service is also investigating the facts surrounding the Boeing's arrival in South Africa on Saturday and its reportedly illegal departure the next day for Harare, Bujumbura in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Senior Superintendent Selby Bokaba.

Logo Logistics Limited, the British employer of the men arrested in Harare, was arranging legal representation for them on Thursday, said Charles Burrow, the company's senior executive.

[Sapa-AFP and Sapa]
33 posted on 03/14/2004 9:40:14 PM PST by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
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To: piasa
This is getting weirder and weirder- Mugabe nervous after Haiti, perhaps?

Zimbabwe -- Cathy Buckle -- Of bolt Cutters and an Orange Boat

34 posted on 03/14/2004 9:52:54 PM PST by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
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To: piasa
Thanks for the ping!
35 posted on 03/14/2004 10:06:33 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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