“There is a significant amount of evidence from eyewitnesses that they observed more than one aircraft in the air, that the other aircraft may have been a jet, that SE-BDY was on fire before it crashed, and/or that SE-BDY was fired upon or otherwise actively engaged by another aircraft. In its totality, this evidence is not easily dismissed.”
Judge Mohamed Chande Othman — UN Report
“The finding by Judge Mohamed Chande Othman, a senior Tanzanian jurist who was asked by the United Nations to review both old and newly uncovered evidence, gave weight to a longstanding suspicion that Mr. Hammarskjold may have been assassinated.”
New York Times — October 25 2017
25 October 2017 – A new United Nations-mandated report has found it “appears plausible” that an external attack or threat may have led to the fatal plane crash that killed former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
António Guterres on Wednesday called on UN Member States to make available information concerning the 56-year-old incident. A statement issued his Spokesman said Mr. Guterres is of the view that the information made available to the UN to date has been insufficient and that it seems likely that important additional information exists.
The chartered DC6 plane registered as SE-BDY crashed just after midnight on 17-18 September 1961, near Ndola (then Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia), killing Mr. Hammarskjöld and 14 of the 15 members of the party accompanying him, with the sole survivor succumbing to injuries a few days later.
“There is a significant amount of evidence from eyewitnesses that they observed more than one aircraft in the air, that the other aircraft may have been a jet, that SE-BDY was on fire before it crashed, and/or that SE-BDY was fired upon or otherwise actively engaged by another aircraft,” noted Eminent Person Mohamed Chande Othman in his report, transmitted to the General Assembly Wednesday.
“It appears plausible that an external attack or threat may have been a cause of the crash, whether by way of a direct attack causing SE-BDY to crash or by causing a momentary distraction of the pilots. Such a distraction need only have taken away the pilots’ attention for a matter of seconds at the critical point at which they were in their descent to have been potentially fatal.”
Findings and recommendation
Judge Othman’s 63-page report offered a further rebuttal of the idea, advanced in inquiries soon after the crash, that pilot error or some other accident had caused Mr. Hammarskjold’s chartered DC-6 airplane to crash.
Othman noted that it appears to him “reasonable to conclude that the burden of proof has now shifted to Member States” to show that they have conducted a full review of records and archives in their custody or possession, including those that remain classified, for potentially relevant information.
He also recommended that Member States appoint an independent and high-ranking official to conduct a dedicated and internal review of their archives, in particular, their intelligence, security and defence archives, with a view to ensuring comprehensive access to relevant information and establishing what happened on that fateful night.
“An incident such as this where one or more of the hypotheses of the air crash may have involved an adverse or hostile act or acts on the Secretary-General of the United Nations is a matter of highest public interest.”
Judge Othman urges for meaningful participation of key Member States in identifying material relevant to the tragic incident.
Susan Williams, a British academic whose 2011 book “Who Killed Hammarskjold?” inspired the latest phase of high-level interest in the crash, said the report “reinforces my strong suspicion of foul play.”
“The onus is now on the U.K., the U.S., Belgium, France and South Africa, to release all relevant documents, including the secret records of their security and intelligence agencies and all intercepts” of radio traffic relating to the case.”
Williams also urges multinational companies operating in the area to release relevant records.
Theory about a Belgian Mercenary
One theory about an external attack, Othman said, is that Hammarskjold’s plane may have been “attacked, menaced or distracted by a Fouga Magister jet operated by Katangan forces.”
This year, the U.S. and other sources provided information appearing to substantiate that around Feb. 16, 1961, three Fouga jets purchased from France were delivered to Katanga by a U.S. commercial jet, “against objections of the government of the United States.” Othman said he rated this new information “as being strong.”
Comment: This is a documented CIA operation which I have discussed previously. As the NYT wrote recently:
“Seven months before the crash, three Fouga Magisters had been delivered to the secessionists aboard an American-owned cargo plane that was supposed to be delivering food.
President John F. Kennedy was deeply embarrassed by the delivery, which was later reported to have been a C.I.A. operation.”
Othman said he also received information “regarding an unauthenticated claim made by a Belgian pilot, ‘Beukels’, to Claude de Kemoularia in 1967 that Beukels shot down or otherwise forced SE-BDY to crash.”
Othman was given access for the first time to de Kemoularia’s agendas and many of his personal records, and reviewed his letters showing he had gone to French and Swedish authorities about Beukels’ claim “much earlier than previously understood.” [LA Times]
Who Killed Hammarskjöld?
But Othman said the identity of Beukels remains a mystery and more information is needed.
In 2014, two diplomatic cables from the US ambassador to Kongo at the time were revealed. One of the cables was sent only hours after the crash, correctly identifies the crash site, and alleges that a Belgian pilot named “Vak Riesseghel” — likely a misspelling of van Risseghem — had shot down the plane. Van Risseghem was never officially questioned by any of the inquiries.
In April 2014, The Guardian published evidence implicating Jan van Risseghem.
Risseghem was a military pilot who served with the RAF during World War II, later with the Belgian Air Force and became famous as the pilot of Moise Tsjombé in Katanga.
The article claims that an American NSA employee, former naval pilot Commander Charles Southall, working at the NSA listening station in Cyprus in 1961 shortly after midnight on the night of the crash, heard an intercept of a pilot’s commentary in the air over Ndola – 3,000 miles away.
Southall recalled the pilot saying:
“I see a transport plane coming low. All the lights are on. I’m going down to make a run on it. Yes, it is the Transair DC-6. It’s the plane,” adding that his voice was “cool and professional”.
Then he heard the sound of gunfire and the pilot exclaiming: “I’ve hit it. There are flames! It’s going down. It’s crashing!”
Based on aircraft registration and availability with the Katanga Air Force, registration KAT-93, a Fouga CM.170 Magister would be the most likely aircraft .
The following piece “Dag Hammarskjold, un complot qui n’est plus une théorie” explains how it was possible to identify Jan van Risseghem.
A few quotes
“It will be necessary to find some way of pulling Hammarskjold up short.”
UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (September 13 1961)
“Hammarskjöld was at the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said ‘when they killed him’.”
US President Harry Truman (September 19 1961)
“I continue to have a strong feeling that Hammarskjold’s death was not an accident.”
“I realise now that in comparison to him, I am a small man. He was the greatest statesman of our century.”
John F. Kennedy
Theory That Hammarskjold Plane Was Downed Is Bolstered by U.N. Report
UN REPORT — External Attack Probably Caused Dag Hammarskjold’s Plane to Crash