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Insight: Coup plotters wanted colony of their own (Mark Thatcher/Equatorial Guinea)
The Sunday Times (UK) ^ | January 23, 2005

Posted on 01/23/2005 12:21:26 AM PST by HAL9000

THE FAILED coup attempt involving Sir Mark Thatcher was to have made Equatorial Guinea a private colony run for the benefit of the British plotters, leaked documents reveal.

The papers, passed to The Sunday Times by South African intelligence sources, reveal that the plotters had created a trading company to control the oil-rich West African state.

The Bight of Benin Company (BBC), named after the bay on the state’s coastline, was to have grabbed control of the country’s economy, its oil reserves, army and police.

The company would have controlled the country as a private fiefdom, modelled on the British East India Company, which ran vast swathes of India before it formally became part of the empire.

After executing the coup, the company planned to make Severo Moto, the exiled opposition leader, its own frontman, bound by contract to cede power to BBC.

The plotters then planned to use the state’s intelligence services to gather “damaging information” on Moto and his family in case he stepped out of line.

According to South African intelligence sources, the leaked documents were sent to Simon Mann, the former SAS captain who planned and led the military side of the operation. Others accused of leading the plot are Greg Wales, a British former private military company boss, David Tremain, a British mining executive based in South Africa, and Eli Calil, the London-based Lebanese businessman. All three have denied any involvement in the plot.

Another named conspirator is Thatcher, son of the former prime minister. Although he claims to have been drawn into the plot inadvertently after agreeing to finance an air ambulance, the documents suggest otherwise.

One, which assesses “threats” to the operation, has a section headed by the initials “MT”. It says: “If involvement known, rest of us, and project, likely to be screwed as a side- issue to people screwing him. Would particularly add to a campaign, post-event, to remove us.”

Equatorial Guinea, ruled by the dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema, is Africa’s third largest oil producer, with revenues exceeding £400m a year. The plotters wanted to replace Obiang with Moto.

The documents reveal the scale of the plotters’ greed and the lengths they were prepared to go to to ensure Moto remained beholden to them.

They reveal how BBC was to have “sole right to have physical or other access” to Moto once he became president. It would be the only company that could “make agreements or contracts” with the new regime. It would in effect be the government, controlling the armed forces, intelligence services, palace guard and customs.

Crucially, it would also take over the state oil company, and Moto would hand over economic planning to the plotters. They would use their military muscle to seize the country’s wealth, although they acknowledged the need to create jobs and welfare programmes to silence possible opposition.

A public relations offensive was planned within 12 hours of taking power to avoid “unfavourable scrutiny”. This was to be particularly aimed at the Americans, who have oil interests in the region. “We must make them aware of the upside, from a commercial, human and political rights, transparency . . . position,” says one document.

The “transparency”, however, was to be accompanied by a “disinformation campaign” to make other states believe the coup was supported by the Americans and therefore back off. Such was the duplicity, the documents show, that plotters trusted no one, not even their fellow conspirators. “It is potentially a very lucrative game,” begins the document assessing threats. “We should expect bad behaviour; disloyalty; rampant individual greed; irrational behaviour (kids in toyshop type); back-stabbing . . . and similar ungentlemanly activities.”

Their greatest fear was that Moto, who has run the opposition’s government in exile from Madrid, would be popularly acclaimed by the people, and so become too powerful to control. The plotters believed he had clear support from half the population.

The “threats” document continues: “Once he has got it (the presidency) he will probably feel that he got it mainly through his own efforts . . . He may assume that whoever puts him in power can be a disposable syringe.

“He may . . . regard us chiefly as a limitation on him doing and behaving as he wants (eg grabbing as much money as he can), and seek to be rid of us for his own reasons.”

The plotters feared he might “denounce them” as a threat to him or say they had been working for the previous regime.Their “remedy” was to make Moto dependent on them.

The document notes that it would not be in the plotters’ interest for Obiang to be overthrown peacefully. “From our point of view he (Moto) needs to achieve power by coup or putsch; not by public acclamation on return, or by political dealing after it. We need to be fundamental to him retaining it,” the document says.

Moto’s closest advisers were to be tied to BBC, which would control the recruitment and payment of government officials. If this failed, they could resort to blackmail. “We must have the moral high ground. We must be in charge of the process of transparency, pursuing corruption.” This, it was hoped, would give a steady income stream. Perhaps more importantly it would “hopefully” provide “damaging information about M (Moto) or at any rate some of his family or colleagues”.

The plotters were also wary of a figure described as E, understood to be a reference to Eli Calil, one of Moto’s main supporters. According to the documents, E “has been working on this for a long time; clearly will have seen it as one where technicians execute the arrival plan and then he is in control. He may have an exaggerated view of his level of control over M”.

The coup plan was thwarted last March when Mann and his mercenaries were arrested at Harare airport in Zimbabwe as they waited to collect arms. Mann is now serving a four-year jail sentence in Harare for weapons offences.

Thatcher returned to Britain last week after pleading guilty to financing the coup, under a deal to co-operate with South Africa’s national prosecution authority. His evidence will be passed to British detectives investigating whether the alleged financiers, including Wales, Tremain and Calil, plotted the coup in breach of UK anti-terrorism laws. A spokesman for Thatcher refused to comment last week.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: conspiracy; equatorialguinea; markthatcher; moto; obiang; severomoto; simonmann; southafrica; thatcher; zimbabwe

1 posted on 01/23/2005 12:21:33 AM PST by HAL9000
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To: HAL9000

How would any this be worse than the situation in Equatorial Guinea today?

2 posted on 01/23/2005 12:41:27 AM PST by Slings and Arrows (The best reactive targets are cow flops and Dimmycrats...but I repeat myself.)
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To: HAL9000

Stunning that Margaret Thatcher gave birth to a boy who grew up to be a greedy little dictator-behind-the-scenes wannabe.

3 posted on 01/23/2005 12:45:36 AM PST by snarks_when_bored
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To: Slings and Arrows

It might have been an improvement, but getting caught in Zimbabwe was not a brilliant idea.

4 posted on 01/23/2005 12:50:49 AM PST by HAL9000 (Spreading terrorist beheading propaganda videos is an Act of Treason!)
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To: Slings and Arrows

I was thinking the same myself. At least Markie would have been forced to respect human rights.

5 posted on 01/23/2005 1:24:59 AM PST by oilfieldtrash
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To: snarks_when_bored


Stunning that Margaret Thatcher gave birth to a boy who obviously developed forged steel balls, to attempt something like this. Equatorial Guinea would have been much better off if this coup had succeeded.

That's not greed, that's vision.

6 posted on 01/23/2005 2:05:46 AM PST by Mad Mammoth
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To: HAL9000

True. Winners write history, but first you have to be a winner.

7 posted on 01/23/2005 8:46:09 AM PST by Slings and Arrows (The best reactive targets are cow flops and Dimmycrats...but I repeat myself.)
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To: oilfieldtrash

Yep. Well, if at first you don't secede, try, try again.

[Pun deliberate.]

8 posted on 01/23/2005 8:47:28 AM PST by Slings and Arrows (The best reactive targets are cow flops and Dimmycrats...but I repeat myself.)
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To: Mad Mammoth
That's not greed, that's vision.

What he saw—the prospect of vast future ill-gotten riches—blinded him. That's greed. And don't forget: people would have died had his plot gone forward. He was willing to kill in order to get his hands on wealth. That's ugly.

9 posted on 01/23/2005 12:55:38 PM PST by snarks_when_bored
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