NSA evidence may be key to Hammarskjold mystery
LONDON — America's National Security Agency may hold crucial evidence about one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the Cold War — the cause of the 1961 plane crash that killed United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold, a commission of prominent jurists says.
Widely considered the U.N.'s most effective chief, Hammarskjold died as he was attempting to bring peace to the newly independent Congo. It's long been rumored that his DC-6 plane was shot down, and an independent commission set up to evaluate new evidence surrounding his death on Monday recommended a fresh investigation — citing radio intercepts held by the NSA as the possible key to solving the case.
“The only dependable extant record of the radio traffic, if there is one, will so far as we know be the NSA's,” Commission Chairman Stephen Sedley said in his introduction to the report. “If it exists, it will either confirm or rebut the claim that the DC-6 was fired on or threatened with attack immediately before its descent.”
Hammerskjold's aircraft went down on the night of Sept. 17, 1961, smashing into a forested area just short of Ndola Airport in modern-day Zambia. A host of hard-to-answer questions about the crash have led to a glut of conspiracy theories.
Among them: Why did it take 15 hours to find the wreckage, just a few miles from the airport? Why did Hammarskjold's bodyguard, who survived the crash for a few days, say that the plane “blew up”? Why did witnesses report seeing sparks, flashes or even another plane?
Hammarskjold was flying into a war zone infested with mercenaries and riven by Cold War tension. Congo won its freedom from Belgium in 1960, but foreign multinationals coveted its vast mineral wealth and the country was challenged by a Western-backed insurgency in Katanga, which hosted mining interests belonging to the United States, Britain and Belgium. They also were jockeying for influence with the Soviet Union, which was trying to spread communism to the newly independent nations of Africa.
All four powers had a stake in the outcome of Congo's struggle, and all have been fingered as potential suspects in Hammarskjold's death.
Three investigations have failed to settle the matter, and the publication of “Who Killed Hammarskjold?” by Susan Williams in 2011 set off a renewed round of speculation.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S.-led coalition unleashes wave of airstrikes on Raqqa, Syria
- Pope comes ‘home’ to South America to defend planet and the poor
- Fans cheer as Princess Charlotte christened on British royal estate in Sandringham
- Egypt foiled extremist ‘state’ in Sinai, president says
- Greek Prime Minister Tsipras in tenuous position with referendum on bailout deal
- Greeks rally as Prime Minister Tsipras rejects crisis bailout
- Little hope of survivors in Indonesian plane crash
- Saudi prince will donate all wealth, $32B worth
- Russians decry U.S. description in new policy
- Srebrenica’s killing fields home to thousands slain in genocide
- Iraq, ISIS urge Turks to release dam water