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March 08, 2004

Seized American Plane

The unfolding news story of Zimbabwe's seizure of an American cargo plane is sweeping through all the news feeds. Unfortunately, details are severely lacking.


A US-registered cargo plane with 64 suspected mercenaries on board has been impounded in Harare, Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi has said.

The Boeing 727-100 was held on Sunday after it had "made a false declaration of its cargo and crew," Mr Mohadi said.

He said the plane was carrying mercenaries of differing nationalities and "military materiel".


I'll update when more facts are available.

Read the story on BBC.

Update: The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the US State Department is denying any knowledge of the plane and cannot answer whether any Americans are being held. The Pentagon is similarly denying any knowledge or connection.

The company that the plane is registered to, Dodson Aviation, claims that the plane was sold "about a week ago to an African company called Logo Ltd."

If the plane did actually contain mercenaries and military equipment, then the question as to who was backing them is still completely open. The likelihood that the US government would back 64 mercenaries in overthrowing Mugabe is tremendously slim, though.

President Bush has spent a lot of time building a rapport with South African President Thabo Mbeki, and in supporting Mbeki's "soft diplomacy" strategy for dealing with Mugabe. As wrong-headed as I think this approach is, it would be unlikely for Bush to make a move like this that would damage his relations with Mbeki.

Another consideration is that it was Rhodesian nationals looking to capitalize on all of the current problems in Zimbabwe and regain political control. I doubt this is the case, but it makes far more sense than a US backed attempt.

Posted by zombyboy at March 8, 2004 11:50 AM
Comments

Check out the discussion over at Eschaton. It's a fomer Air National Guard plane sold a week ago via a somewhat shady Southafrican character.

Posted by: Kathryn Cramer at March 8, 2004 03:00 PM

Thanks for pointing that out.

The amount of speculation going on in that thread, though, is disturbing to me.

I'll be extremely curious to see how this ends up. Assuming we find anything resembling the truth from the people on the plane and from the press releases from Mugabe's government.

Posted by: zombyboy at March 8, 2004 03:05 PM

Hehe..
The funny thing is i know the Pilot - He's South African. The whole thing was put togethere by Two South Africans whom I have the pleasure of knowing...

Dodoson are going to claim the knew nothing of the destination etc etc... thats a huge lie. Although they have nothing to do with it really. The plane was destined to Guinea and has nothing to do about ousting Robert Mugabe.

It did belong to the US Goverment! They will obviously deny that!...There is another 727 Sitting at Wonderboom - who the seller is well know for all things Shaddy.

What else would you like to know?

Posted by: WSL at March 9, 2004 09:08 AM

Tell me about this other 727. That sounds interesting. Do you know the tail number?

Posted by: Kathryn Cramer at March 14, 2004 02:26 PM
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