“External attack” may have caused crash that killed UN secretary general in 1961

Dag HammarskjöldA deliberate attack by another aircraft may have caused the plane crash that killed the United Nations Secretary General in 1961, according to a report commissioned by the intergovernmental organization. On September 17, 1961, a Douglas DC-6 transport aircraft carrying United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld crashed in the British-administered territory of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). The crash killed everyone onboard. At the time of his death, Hammarskjöld was flying to the Congo’s mineral-rich Katanga region to meet European-supported chieftains who in 1960 had seceded from the nationalist government of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Ironically, Lumumba had been assassinated in a Western-backed coup exactly eight months before Hammarskjöld’s death.

Three successive investigations into the crash, conducted by the Rhodesian Board of Investigation, the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, and the United Nations Commission of Investigation, pointed to “pilot error” as the most likely cause of the tragedy. However, research carried out in recent years, including by the Hammarskjöld Commission, which was composed of a diplomat and three judges from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Sweden, has shown that the crash could have been the result of deliberate actions. In February of this year, following a recommendation by a UN-appointed three-member expert panel, the organization tasked Mohamed Chande Othman, a former Tanzanian chief justice, to research the topic in depth. Othman reportedly delivered his final report to the UN Secretary General António Guterres in August. However, it has not yet been made public.

On Tuesday, however, British newspaper The Guardian said it had seen an executive summary of Othman’s report. Read more of this post

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Panel to present findings on mysterious death of UN secretary general

Dag HammarskjöldA panel of experts commissioned by the United Nations is about to unveil fresh evidence on the mysterious death in 1961 of UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld, who some claim was murdered for supporting African decolonization. The evidence could spark a new official probe into the incident, which has been called “one of the enduring mysteries of the 20th century”.

On September 17, 1961, a Douglas DC-6 transport aircraft carrying United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld crashed in the British-administered territory of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). The crash killed everyone onboard. Three successive investigations into the crash, conducted by the Rhodesian Board of Investigation, the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, and the United Nations Commission of Investigation, viewed “pilot error” as the most likely cause of the tragedy. However, the latter probe, which was closed in 1962, opined that deliberate sabotage could not be ruled out as a likely cause of the tragedy.

Since that time, numerous scholars and independent investigators, such as Swedish development expert Göran Björkdahl and British academic Susan Williams, have raised the possibility that the plane carrying Secretary General Hammarskjöld may have been “shot down by an unidentified second plane”. Several commentators have also pointed to what seemed like eagerness by British colonial administrators in Northern Rhodesia to obscure the details of the incident. One argument is that Hammarskjöld, described as the most independent-minded secretary general in the history of the UN, had angered many world powers due to this fierce support for anti-colonial movements that were sweeping the African continent. Indeed, at the time of his death, Hammarskjöld was flying to the Congo’s mineral-rich Katanga region to meet European-supported chieftains who in 1960 had seceded from the nationalist government of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Ironically, Lumumba had been assassinated in a Western-backed coup exactly eight months before Hammarskjöld’s own death.

In 2012, the independently funded Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust appointed an international team of jurists to study all available evidence on the plane crash. The team, called the Hammarskjöld Commission, was composed of a diplomat and three judges from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Sweden. The Commission reported in 2013 that “significant new evidence” had emerged, which suggested that American intelligence agencies, notably the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, held “crucial evidence” that could help clarify the causes of the crash.

The report by the Hammarskjöld Commission prompted the UN’s current Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to appoint a UN-sponsored panel of experts to examine the new evidence and present it before the UN General Assembly. The three-member panel traveled to several countries, including Zambia, the US, Britain and Belgium, to access government, as well as private archives. Its report is expected to be delivered to the UN General Assembly this week. It is said to include written testimony by a Belgian pilot who says he shot down the plane carrying Hammarskjöld by error, while trying to divert it on orders by a government entity. Another witness, a former intelligence officer with the US National Security Agency, is believed to have told the UN experts that he listened to a recording of a pilot who said he shot down the UN Secretary General’s plane.

Once this new evidence is presented, the UN General Assembly will have to vote on whether the UN should hold an official probe into the plane crash. It would mark the first such inquiry since 1962.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 22 June 2015 | Permalink: https://intelnews.org/2015/06/21/01-1719/

Commission urges probe of plane crash that killed UN secretary general

Dag HammarskjöldBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A commission of experts formed to examine the 1961 death of former United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld has urged the reopening of an investigation into the airplane crash that killed him. Hammarskjöld died when the Douglas DC-6 transport aircraft that was carrying him crashed in the British-administered territory of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). He was on his way to Congo’s mineral-rich Katanga region to meet European-supported chieftains who in 1960 had seceded from the nationalist government of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. Two subsequent investigations into the crash, conducted by the Rhodesian Board of Investigation and the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, failed to determine the precise cause of the crash. But an official United Nations Commission of Investigation, conducted in 1962, concluded that deliberate sabotage could not be ruled out as a likely cause of the tragedy. In 2011, a Swedish investigator argued in a report that Hammarskjöld’s plane had been “shot down by an unidentified second plane”. The investigator told The Guardian newspaper that British colonial authorities had deliberately left the sole surviving airplane passenger, American sergeant Harold Julian, to die of his injuries at a makeshift hospital in Northern Rhodesia. In 2012, the Hammarskjöld Inquiry Trust appointed an international team of lawyers to study all available evidence and report to the United Nations. The team, called the Hammarskjöld Commission, is composed of a diplomat and three judges from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Sweden. On Monday, they held a press conference to present the findings of their investigation. Its conclusion is that the UN should reopen the 1962 probe into the plane crash, because “significant new evidence” has recently emerged. The Commission report suggests that American intelligence agencies, in particular the National Security Agency (NSA), may hold “crucial evidence” that could help clarify the causes of the crash. Read more of this post

Was plane carrying UN Secretary General shot down in 1961?

Dag Hammarskjöld

Hammarskjöld

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On September 17, 1961, a Douglas DC-6 transport aircraft carrying United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld crashed in the British-administered territory of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). The crash killed everyone onboard, except one passenger, who died hours later. Three successive investigations into the crash, conducted by the Rhodesian Board of Investigation, the Rhodesian Commission of Inquiry, and the United Nations Commission of Investigation, viewed “pilot error” as the most likely cause of the tragedy. Göran Björkdahl, a Swedish aid worker with Sweden’s International Development Cooperation Agency, who is stationed in Burkina Faso, has spent three years researching Hammarskjöld’s death. He has produced a report with his findings, in which he cites interviews with several witnesses of the crash, who are still living. He says that, according to the evidence he has amassed, he has “no doubt” Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane was “shot down by an unidentified second plane”. In an article published in British quality broadsheet The Guardian, Björkdahl also claims that the only survivor of the downed DC-6, American sergeant Harold Julian, who was a member of the UN Secretary General’s security detail, was abandoned to die of his injuries at a makeshift hospital in Ndola, Northern Rhodesia. Björkdahl’s claim is based on his interview with colonial medical practitioner Mark Lowenthal, who tried to treat Julian in the hours following the airplane’s crash. Moreover, Björkdahl alleges that British colonial authorities in Northern Rhodesia were eager to cover up the details of the incident, and went out of their way to intimidate local villagers who witnessed the crash, and to downplay witness testimony suggesting that the Douglas DC-6 may have been shot down. Read more of this post