By Keith Harmon Snow
Keith Harmon Snow is a war correspondent, photographer and independent investigator, and a four time (2003, 2006, 2007, 2010) Project Censored award winner. He is also the 2009 Regent's Lecturer in Law & Society at the
Mobutu Sese Seko's Ghosts
Brazzaville has harbored Mobutu’s ex-Forces Armées Zaïroises (ex-FAZ) since 1996-1997, and it harbors Rwandan elements that fled the AFDL genocide against Hutu refugees in Congo-Zaire (1996-1997). Sources suggest there are at least 300 ex-MLC and more than 10,000 ex-FAZ troops available for the Dongo rebellion.
Rwandan refugees in Congo-Brazza include civilian survivors of the 1994 exodus from Rwanda and the subsequent international war crimes committed by the Paul Kagame and James Kabarebe and their troops in DRC from 1996-1998. Uganda People’s Defense Forces also helped hunt and massacre Hutu refugees.
Congo-Brazzaville also supports the ex-Rwandan Armed Forces (ex-FAR) and their allies, the Forces for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), providing a distant rear base for Congo operations directed at liberating Rwanda from the extremist Tutsis and the Kagame dictatorship. 11
Thus many Rwandan refugees in Brazzaville are former liberation fighters hostile to the terrorist Kagame regime for its ‘blame-the-victims’ inversion of the Rwanda ‘genocide’ story and the mass murder of millions of Hutu people from 1990 to the present.
As of 2005, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) counted some 59,000 Congo-Kinshasa refugees in Congo-Brazzaville and more than 4000 Congo-Kinshasa refugees in C.A.R. 12
Sassou-Nguesso, Dos Santos, Ali Bongo and his father Omar, Mobutu, Habyarimana—all of these current and former Central African regimes align(ed) themselves with French and Israeli security and intelligence interests 13—and all seek to counter balance and limit Tutsi extremist expansionism in Central Africa backed by the Anglo-American alliance.
Equateur Province is the site of major untapped petroleum reserves. Belgian, French, Portuguese, German and U.S. families and corporations control vast tracts of land being denuded by rapacious industrial logging. There are also western-owned plantations with modern day plantation slavery involving tens of thousands of Congolese people subject to terrorism by state paramilitary services.
The outside world hears little or nothing about the western-owned logging and plantation concessions producing timber, coffee, cocoa, palm oil, and rubber through modern day slavery. Similarly, the immense untapped petroleum reserves beneath the Congo River basin and its rainforests in Equateur province remain undisclosed by western institutions—including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), USAID, and Care International—involved in possessing and depopulating these rainforest lands for western corporate interests that benefit through the Kabila regime.
According to Congo researcher David Barouski, cassiterite (tin) mined from the bloody Kivu provinces in eastern Congo also passes through the networks of the plantations and logging interests in Equateur and Orientale.
“Outside of Asia, Belgium is the primary importer of Congolese cassiterite. Sodexmines sells to SDE, located in Brussels and directed by Mr. Edwin Raes. SDE is a subsidiary of the U.S.-based Elwyn Blattner Group. Mr. Elwyn Blattner, who hails from Bayonne, N.J, owns several businesses in the Congo through his firm, African Holding Company of America. They include logging concessions, transportation, and palm oil plantations. The products [from] these businesses are also imported by SDE.”14
The Elwyn Blattner Groupe has supported all sides in Congo’s wars, bankrolling combatants, police, governors and officials who control the geographical areas where his interests are. The Blattner family—James, Elwyn, Daniel, David—began and expanded under Mobutu and are entrenched with the Kabila regime.15
Assasins target Joseph Kabila Kanambe
Recognizing the growing disaffection amongst his own military and intelligence services, President Kabila is surrounded by trusted elite Angolan Special Forces.
Since Joseph Kabila came to power in 2001, the elite Guard Républicaine (GR) controlled directly by the President outside the military chain of command or any civilian or judicial oversight, has been expanded to some 15,000 elite, heavily armed forces deployed at all strategic locations around the country. Sources in the intelligence sector in Congo-Kinshasa claim that the GR is predominantly comprised of elite Angolan Special Forces, with a token number of Congolese to put a proper face on things.
In 2005, it was reported that Kabila’s closest security detail in the Presidential Guards was a detachment of 50 elite Zimbabwe Defense Forces under the command of Lt. Colonel Richard Sauta, a 5th dan (rank) Tae Kwan Do expert trained in North Korea.16
Kabila has also reportedly moved all ammunitions depots off Congolese FARDC military bases in Kinshasa, though Rwandan FARDC (‘ex’-CNDP) and Angolan troops remain heavily armed and supplied.
The view looking across the Congo River from Kinshasa to Brazzaville, showing Kinshasa’s transshipment port for timber exploitation and export to Europe, Asia & North America. Photo keith harmon snow 2006.
Angolan troops backed Kabila during the deadly battle for Kinshasa against Jean-Pierre Bemba and MLC loyalists in March 2007. Enraged by MLC attacks that claimed some 23 Angolans, including a senior officer, the Angolan forces ruthlessly retaliated, causing massive civilian casualties thousands of bodies were collected and dumped in mass graves and in the Congo River.17 At the time, President Dos Santos convinced Congo-Brazzaville president Dennis Sassou-Nguesso to block ex-FAZ troops in Brazzaville from crossing the Congo River to join the MLC fight.
This time, Sassou-Nguesso has allowed ex-FAZ and ex-MLC to cross the border and join the Dongo rebellion.
Since March 2007, MLC forces that were captured or surrendered to MONUC after the deadly battle were detained by MONUC in Kinshasa ‘for their own safety’. In past weeks, Kabila’s loyalist forces in Kinshasa seized some of the MLC captives in military operations described by Kinshasa intelligence insiders as ‘staged assaults.’
Sources claim that MONUC has collaborated with the Kabila security apparatus in their efforts to seize and eliminate MLC captives. These captives included some 150 former combatants, along with their wives and children. Reports from Kinshasa suggest that these MLC are being systematically eliminated in what amount to extrajudicial executions.
“MONUC tried to get these MLC soldiers ‘integrated’ into the FARDC because they [MONUC] knew that Kabila would have them [MLC] killed,” says an insider in Kinshasa. “In June, officers from MONUC wanted to transfer the Bemba MLC men in secret to Kabila. Bemba’s men refused and took MONUC soldiers hostage and MONUC had to negotiate for their release. Now, Kabila’s Presidential militia have forced the door and arrested Bemba soldiers. MONUC seemed to pretend not to know what was happening. We know that between 80 and 103 people from MLC have been arrested by the Presidential Guard.”
There have been massive arrests and illegal detentions of young men in Kinshasa and outlying areas in the past month. In the past week, Congolese newspapers reported that escaped prisoners had been shot. However, sources indicate that these ‘escapees’ were killed in prison.
Such actions are routine for the Kinshasa security apparatus. Any time that Kabila suspects or discovers a coup, street children and young men are rounded up and detained, often involving intimidation and beatings, by the Presidential Guard.
Sources in Kinshasa also say that Kabila’s forces rounded up scores and possibly hundreds of young civilian men in Maluku, a former Jean-Pierre Bemba MLC stronghold some 70 kilometers from Kinshasa. Kabila is worried that an insurgency against him will come from Maluku.
Kabila has good reason to be alarmed. There have been at least four serious coup attempts against Kabila over the past two years; two of these occurred in 2009.
One recent unreported coup attempt occurred in Kinshasa on May 18, 2009 at 7:30 pm when Kabila was returning from Mbakana, reported to be the Kabila clan’s privately fortified ‘farm’ security compound also some 70 kilometers from Kinshasa.
When the presidential procession set off down the Boulevard de 30 Juin, Kinshasa’s central artery, on May 18 a sniper, lying in ambush, opened fire on the presidential Mercedes Jeep at the intersection of Wangata Avenue. Kabila had switched vehicles and was riding in a Nissan Patrol like those used by members of parliament. Following the attack, Kabila ordered the systematic destruction of all the public kiosks and pavilions along the Boulevard de 30 Juin, and the indiscriminate round up and arrest of young men in Kinshasa. The attack reportedly involved five commandos.
All media inside Congo were forbidden from reporting on the May coup attempt, reportedly on the personal orders of President Kabila. Several media outlets of the Congolese Diaspora reported the events. It is also true that ‘coups’ and ‘attacks’ in Kinshasa have been staged by the Kabila government and by opposition as devices to manipulate public opinion or justify retaliatory action.
In October 12, 2009, Colonel Floribert Bofate Lihamba was arrested in Lubumbashi, Katanga Province, the heart of Congo’s most lucrative western mining operations, and transferred to a prison in Kinshasa. A top security agent in President Kabila’s Presidential Guard Républicaine (GR), and a former member of the Special Presidential Security Group (GSSP) under President Laurent Kabila, Col. Lihamba is accused of planning a coup d’etat.
On October 21, 2009, President Kabila survived the second most recent attempted coup d’etat, another recent pivotal event in Congo unreported by the western press or Congolese media. Informed in advance of the impending attempt on his life, President Kabila had curtailed all public appearances and was reportedly again holed up with Angolan troops on his ‘farm’ security compound outside Kinshasa.
According to Congolese intelligence sources, ex-Forces Armées Zaïroises (ex-FAZ) commandoes crossed the Congo River seeking to assassinate Kabila. The commandoes all reportedly originate from the Mobutu and Jean-Pierre Bemba strongholds around Gbadolite , in northwestern Equateur.
The arrested officers include: four Majors (Yogo, Zwafunda, Mokwesa, Ngombo); five captains (Koli, Nzale, Gbaka, Kongawi, and Salakoso); nine lieutenants (Libanza, Masisi, Gerembaya, Mbuyi, Ndongala, Ngani, Kpdobere, Nzanzu and Sido); and four sergeants (Kongo, Dondo, Lisala, and Lite).
“President Kabila is afraid of the ex-FAZ,” says one Congolese source. “He is afraid of Ngbanda.”
One of the former President Mobutu’s closest advisers, Honoré Ngbanda—the ‘Terminator’—is also rumored to back the uprising in Dongo. Ngbanda held various positions under Mobutu, including Minster of the Interior, Ambassador to Israel and Head of the Mobutu’s notorious SNIP, the National Intelligence and Protection Service (Service National d'Intelligence et de Protection).
Honoré Ngbanda’s ties to other Mobutu era big men likely include the Bongo family (Gabon) and Jewish-American diamond kingpin Maurice Templesman (United States), whose De Beers-affiliated diamond interests were partially displaced when the Kabila regime partnered with Israeli businessmen Dan Gertler and Benny Steinmetz. Gertler and Steinmetz cemented their interests in Congo-Kinshasa through former U.S. President G.W. Bush and former U.S. State Department official Jendayi Frazer.
South Africa is home to several former high commanders from the former Mobutu regime of Zaire. Former Security Police Chief General Kpama Baramoto, former Special Forces Commander General Ngabale Nzimbi and former Zairean Defense Minister Admiral Mudima all now reside in South Africa and are clearly interested in overthrowing Joseph Kabila.
In past weeks, Kabila has attempted to replace Congolese intelligence agents with Rwandans drawn from the CNDP, the extremist Tutsi terrorist network out of Rwanda. This has stirred further anger amongst the Congolese members of the FARDC and the National Intelligence Agency (ANR), Congo-Kinshasa’s secret service.
Two young women in a remote village in Equateur province. The average Congolese citizen is innocent of all involvement of war and plunder, never had much of anything for consumer goods, and retains a lovely sense of self, rich with compassion, dignity, truth and courage. These are the victims of the unholy western warfare alliances in Central Africa. Photo keith harmon snow, Equateur Province, DRC, 2004.
“The CNDP is a rebellion that Kagame used, and Kabila allowed, to infiltrate Rwandan soldiers into the Congolese [FARDC] army,” reports an intelligence insider in Kinshasa. “These CNDP are described as Congolese Tutsis but they are Rwandans. The fact that Kabila tried to replace some members of secret services and [FARDC] army by people who came from CNDP [provoked] the anger of many in the Congolese army and intelligence services. Kabila will be captured or killed very soon. TRUST ME.”
To be continued.
11Interviews with Rwandans in the Diaspora, keith harmon snow.
12United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
13See keith harmon snow, “The Crimes of Bongo: Apartheid & Terror in Africa’s Gardens of Eden,” Cyrano’s Journal Online, July 17, 2009, <http://www.bestcyrano.org/?p=2827> .
14David Barouski, “Transcript of David Barouski’s 10/19/08 Presentation for Congo Week in Chicago, IL.,” World News Journal, October 22, 2008, <http://africannewsanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/10/transcript-of-david-barouskis-101908.html >.
15Elwyn Blattner and his plantations holdings are revealed in the 2008 documentary film Episode III: Enjoy Poverty by Dutch filmmaker Renzo Martens, <www.enjoypoverty.com >.
16Wilf Mbanga, Zimbabwe/DRC: Zimbabwean troops guards President Kabila in Congo, The Zimbabwean/UK, August 12, 2005, <http://www.afrika.no/Detailed/10159.html>.
17See: keith harmon snow, “Behind the Scenes: Warlord’s Deadly Battle in Congo,” Toward Freedom, August 19, 2007,