- The Washington Times - Monday, January 5, 2015

When most Americans think about changing the government, voting and joining political campaigns are most likely to come to mind. But last week, two U.S. citizens took things a step further and traveled to Africa to participate in an armed coup.

On Monday, the Justice Department announced the two men will stand trial for their involvement in a failed armed takeover of the small African state of The Gambia.

Prosecutors said that Cherno Njie, 57, and Papa Faal, 46, along with about a dozen co-conspirators, traveled to the African nation along with M4 semi-automatic rifles, night-vision goggles, body armor and other equipment. The group expected the local population to rise up and join them and Mr. Njie, from Texas, was expected to serve as the next leader.

Mr. Njie is of Gambian descent, and Mr. Faal is a dual U.S./Gambian citizen, the DOJ said.

On Dec. 30, the group attempted to assault the State House in the nation’s capital of Banjul, while Mr. Njie remained behind until his colleagues could gain control of the government. But when the conspirators fired a shot into the air, they were assaulted by guards around the State House, the Justice Department said.

Several of the conspirators were killed, but Mr. Faal managed to escape and make it back to the U.S. Mr. Njie also fled back to the U.S.

Both men were shortly arrested by the FBI.

“These defendants stand accused of conspiring to carry out the violent overthrow of a foreign government, in violation of U.S. law,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said. “The United States strongly condemns such conspiracies. With these serious charges, the United States is committed to holding them fully responsible for their actions.”

The two men are being charged with conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Act, a series of laws designed to prevent U.S. citizens from becoming involved in the political affairs of foreign governments.

The Gambia is a nation on the west coast of Africa, completely surrounded by Senegal and dominated by the Gambia River, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book. The nation of more than a million people is roughly twice the size of Delaware.

The CIA lists The Gambia as having a Republic form of government. Presidential elections were last held in 2011, and as the president’s term is for five years, the next elections are set for 2016.

The current president of The Gambia — and ostensibly the target of the overthrow — is Yahya Jammeh.

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