Third charged in US over failed Gambia coup

US prosecutors charged a third man Friday for conspiring to overthrow the Gambian government last month in a failed coup ostensibly aimed at restoring democracy to the small west African nation.

Dual US-Gambian citizen Alagie Barrow, 41, was charged for seeking to overthrow Gambian President Yahya Jammeh on December 30 with fellow dual national Papa Faal and US resident Cherno Njie, whom they planned to then have serve as interim leader.

The trio had traveled to Banjul to take part in the attack on the presidential palace.

The men are charged with conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Act, which prohibits US citizens or residents from taking up arms or plotting against a nation at peace with America, and conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Last month’s attack was repelled by security forces, and at least three suspected attackers died during the fighting, according to unconfirmed reports.

On January 1, strongman Jammeh — who has ruled Gambia with an iron fist for 20 years — blamed unidentified foreign dissidents and “terrorists” for the assault on his presidential palace.

Barrow did not participate in the assault, standing to the side with Njie, a Texas businessman, while waiting for calm to be restored.

The plan had been for Barrow to then escort Njie to the presidential palace after the coup, according to US prosecutors.

The three men were arrested following their return to the United States.

From August to October, the men had purchased numerous arms, including M4 semi-automatic rifles, ammunition and equipment, including night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests, and sent them to Gambia for their coup attempt.

Faal said he believed a larger group would travel to Gambia but that ultimately only 10 to 12 went to carry out the coup, “including some members from the United Kingdom.”

According to the complaint, a search of Njie’s Texas property found a document entitled “Gambia Reborn: A Charter for Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy and Development.”