On 18 September 1961, Dag Hammarskjöld, Swedish Secretary-General of the United Nations, died in what was then the British colony Northern Rhodesia (now: Zambia). His plane crashed, killing all people on board either immediately, or a few hours, or a few days later.
An accident? Murder? Views on this differ sharply. Wikipedia notes that official investigations and search and rescue in Northern Rhodesia after the plane crashed were iffy.
Who might have had a motive for killing the United Nations Secretary-General; and, if so, what motive? Dag Hammarskjöld at the time of his death was trying to find a solution for the war in Congo. In 1960, Congo became officially independent from Belgium. However, Belgian big business, establishment politicians and “intelligence” services wanted to basically carry on ruling Congo, now from behind the scenes: from colonialism to neo-colonialism. The democratically elected prime minister of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, opposed that. This led to war in Congo. In 1961, Lumumba was murdered; with complicity of the Belgian secret service and the CIA, later research says.
After the news of Hammarskjöld’s death, a press release issued by the Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo stated that, “… in order to pay a tribute to this great man, now vanished from the scene, and to his colleagues, all of whom have fallen victim to the shameless intrigues of the great financial Powers of the West… the Government has decided to proclaim Tuesday, 19 September 1961, a day of national mourning.”
So, the government of Congo suspected murder by Western
spying … sorry, I am supposed to use euphemisms … intelligence services.
His [Hammarskjöld’s] efforts towards the decolonisation of Africa were considered insufficient by the Soviet Union …
However, hardline pro-colonialists in Belgium, Britain and other NATO countries rather thought Hammarskjöld did too much for decolonisation.
United States President John F. Kennedy called Hammarskjöld “the greatest statesman of our century”. Not everyone in the United States government may have agreed with that view.
On 19 August 1998, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), stated that recently uncovered letters had implicated the British MI5, the American CIA, and then South African intelligence services in the crash of Hammarskjöld’s plane.
From The Local in Sweden:
NSA may hold key to Dag Hammarskjöld mystery
Published: 9 Sep 2013 15:42 CET
Investigators into Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld’s mysterious death have appealed to the US National Security Agency (NSA) for intercepted radio communications from the Swede’s fatal plane crash in Zambia, 1961.
The then Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, died during the night of September 17th
Wikipedia says September 18th
1961 in a plane crash in what is now Zambia, where he was headed to mediate in the ongoing conflict in neighbouring The Congo.
The diplomat’s death has been the subject of numerous rumours and conspiracy theories over the past five decades centred around whether the crash was an accident, or if Hammarskjöld was killed.
Evidence available has left investigators puzzled, with pilot error deemed unlikely after witnesses claimed to have seen the plane going down on fire.
Investigators who probed the case urged the United Nations on Monday to launch a new investigation into the crash, stating that the possibility that the plane was attacked from above, or that it was forced down due to threats, should be “taken seriously, despite everything”.
The team of investigators, which was led by four senior lawyers including diplomat Hans Corell, appealed to the Unites States to declassify documents from the National Security Agency (NSA) including radio communications and intercepts of war planes in the area at the time.
The commission added that it was a “near certainty” that all air traffic information around the airport was “followed and recorded by the NSA and possibly even the CIA”. Access to such files has been denied by the NSA due to the “top secret” classification, something the commission wants to be lifted to further the investigation.
A recent book by the author Susan Williams entitled Who Killed Hammarskjöld? also argued that the plane was brought down, and prompted the diplomat’s nephew Knut Hammarskjöld to call for the new inquiry.
Newly released evidence on the death of UN chief and renowned Swedish statesman Dag Hammarskjöld, including previously unseen pictures of his corpse, has caused the author of an official inquiry to question his own claims that the death was an accident: here.
- UN ‘should reopen Dag Hammarskjold inquiry’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- NSA evidence may be key to mysterious 1961 plane crash that killed U.N. chief Dag Hammarskjold (cbsnews.com)
- UN ‘should reopen Hammarskjold case’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Judges call for reopening of inquiry into 1961 death of UN chief (theguardian.com)