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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 12, 2016

Four United States Citizens Sentenced for Attempting to Overthrow the Gambian Government

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin today announced the sentencing of CHERNO NJIE, 58, ALGIE BARROW, 43, and BANKA MANNEH, 43, PAPA FAAL, 47, for their roles in  planning and executing an unsuccessful coup attempt to overthrow the government of The Gambia on December 30, 2014. Three other members of the conspiracy were killed.

“These defendants conspired to overthrow a foreign government,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “Regardless of the legitimacy of their personal and emotional connections to The Gambia, these men placed countless innocents in harm’s way when they engaged in a brazen and fatally flawed attempt at regime change. They violated U.S. laws that exist to protect the foreign policy of our country and all Americans both at home and abroad. While I respect the right of any person to voice opposition to a government or its policies, this case is a good example of how not to do so.” 

According to the defendants’ guilty pleas and documents filed in court, the coup plotting began in at least 2013 when members of the conspiracy participated in meetings and discussions with other individuals about changing the leadership in The Gambia. As these discussions progressed, the co-defendants and other co-conspirators decided to attempt to change the regime in The Gambia through a coup. Defendants NJIE, MANNEH and BARROW led the effort to research, plan, supply, and execute the coup.

According to the defendants’ guilty pleas and documents filed in court, throughout the planning of the coup, the defendants participated in regular discussion by phone, email, or face-to-face at NJIE’s residence in Texas. The defendants engaged in military planning for the coup, which included an operations plan that identified the equipment and other logistical support needed for the coup. The defendants also engaged in political planning for The Gambia after the coup, which they expected would result in NJIE becoming the interim leader of The Gambia.

According to the defendants’ guilty pleas and documents filed in court, NJIE provided money for FAAL, MANNEH and BARROW to purchase firearms, all in furtherance of the coup. NJIE himself bought two expensive sniper rifles in Texas. NJIE also paid for the travel of his co-defendants to Texas for planning meetings and to Senegal to conduct the coup in The Gambia.

According to the defendants’ guilty pleas and documents filed in court, on the night of the attempted coup, they found that their target, the State House in Banjul, The Gambia, had been fortified with extra soldiers. The co-conspirators took heavy fire from the guard towers and suffered casualties. After their plan failed, the co-defendants fled The Gambia to Senegal before ultimately returning to the United States.

This investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its partners on Joint Terrorism Task Forces in multiple FBI field offices.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Kovats prosecuted this case, with assistance from Richard Scott, a Deputy Chief of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. A number of other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including those in the Middle District of Tennessee, District of Maryland and the Western District of Texas provided critical support during the investigation.


Defendant Information:

CHERNO NJIE, 58
Lakeway, Tex.

Convicted:

  • Conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Act, 1 count
  • Conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, 1 count

    Sentenced:
    • One year and one day in prison

    ALAGIE BARROW, 43
    Lavergne, Tenn.

    Convicted:
    • Conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Act, 1 count
    • Conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, 1 count

    Sentenced:
    • Six months in prison

    BANKE MANNEH, 43
    Jonesboro, Ga.

    Convicted:
    • Conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Act, 1 count
    • Conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, 1 count

    Sentenced:
    • Six months in prison

    PAPA FAAL, 47
    Brooklyn Center, Minn.

    Convicted:
    • Conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Act, 1 count
    • Conspiracy to Smuggle Firearms in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, 1 count

    Sentenced:
    • Time served

Updated May 12, 2016