MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities man is accused of helping plot the attempted overthrow of an African country’s government.
Papa Faal of Brooklyn Center is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. The 46-year-old is accused of secretly shipping guns from Minnesota to his native country of The Gambia in West Africa.
In a WCCO exclusive, his family says he was standing up for democracy, and should not be in custody.
His family says Papa was living the American dream. He has two master’s degrees, and he’s working on his PhD.
With a wife and 2-year-old daughter at home, he sacrificed everything to help people in his homeland, who he says are being oppressed by the government.
Sai Faal fought back tears as she talked about her husband.
“I’m praying for him every single day,” Sai said.
Papa is currently in federal custody, accused of taking part in a coup to overthrow the Gambian government.
“He doesn’t like oppression, that’s one of the reasons he joined the military,” Sai said.
Papa served in Afghanistan. His wife and his cousin, Sankung Jawara, both say he has always put others before himself.
“We just cannot sit and have other people fight our fight for us, so we feel it necessary that we have to do something,” Sankung said.
According to a criminal complaint, Papa’s plan was to restore democracy to The Gambia and improve the lives of its people.
Papa told investigators he legally purchased eight semi-automatic rifles and shipped them along with night-vision goggles, body armor and ammunition to the African nation.
The team of conspirators stormed the state house in Banjul on Dec. 30, 2014. Several of them were killed.
Papa got away, only to be arrested days later when he returned to the U.S.
The Gambia president showed off what was left behind by those who attempted to overthrow his regime.
Sankung hopes what is happening to his cousin will shed light on what is happening in the small African nation of 1.8 million people.
He says it’s not much different than the fight other countries have against an oppressive government.
“The American government is supporting the rebels in Syria because of the atrocities the Syrian government is doing to these people,” Sankung said. “They are helping out so they can actually take over their country and be independent. We don’t have that in The Gambia.”
Papa’s family says there is a petition circulating with more than 1,000 signatures, asking for his release so he can care for his family while his case goes through the courts.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says conspiring to overthrow a foreign government is against the law, and he vows to hold those responsible accountable.
All Gambians are in this together…. US can prosecute us all, for ALL Gambians stand by Mrs Faal & family & all others to defend our gallant comrades for selflessly pledging to salvage Gambia from tyrannically decadence… Instead the US should be more concerned with the oppressive dictatorship of the kanilai predatory murderer which affects all including US & the international community if they genuinely want end of instability for the benefit of Gambians’ peace & tranquillity, & world at large… Leave Mr Faal & comrades ALONE.
They have a noble selfless attempt to rescue our motherland from oppression… Please help address & redress the murderous tyranny overseeing from kanila to stop, to let one & all live in justice & harmony… If you are to be our true genuine friends….
All Gambians in abroad and back home should offer sincerely prayers to this two general man faal and njie. This two honorable men want to rescue our country from tyranny from the same lunatic dictator jammeh who came to power 1994 with gun and bullets. How can the whole world turn their so called blind eyes to that hard fact truth and now blaming or arresting this true patriotic unselfish freedom fighters? USA has known to be its double standard but let the federal government set faal and njie free at last. They don’t do anything wrong with the constitution but rather fighting for the same freedom of speech, assembly, movement and etc this country USA are enjoying to exist in our motherland the gambia. American government, know that Gambians are suffering, torturing, being kill everyday by their own gambia simply because they want to express their freedoms but being denied by guns and bullets by our lunatic mental murderer dictator Yahya jammeh. Gambia is experiencing the worse human rights abuses in this 21st century and the whole world knows this but they don’t want to do nothing to rescue the Gambians from this. Faal and Njie want to rescue from this and now USA government arrested them for no ground but only to please dictator jammeh and encourage dictatorship. What a sad story. Long live for faal and njie. May Allah always guide and protect you and your families.Ameen!!!!