283. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Read) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1


  • Congo (Leopoldville)

A Congolese rebel message was intercepted this morning from the rebel commander in Stanleyville to the Commander-in-Chief located at Paulis, stating that five American planes had bombed rebel-held Burma and requesting authority to “kill all Americans who are in the liberated zone.” We have no indication as yet of what reply, if any, has been made, but we are continuing to monitor.

While there is a possibility that the message may be another of several lesser warnings we have received, the source and nature of the communication lead us to believe that it should be treated as more than a threat.

The Department immediately dispatched an appeal to the Prime Minister of Kenya, Mr. Kenyatta in his capacity as Chairman of the Organization of African Unity Commission on the Congo, asking him to urge the rebel leaders not to harm Americans in rebel-held territories.2 As a result of Ambassador MacArthur’s representations made on telephonic instructions,3 the Belgian Foreign Office is trying to get a message to the rebel leaders through their Embassy at Bujumbura to use all persuasions to safeguard the lives of our people. Ambassador Godley in Leopoldville has seen Prime Minister Tshombe who states that he will issue an appeal to the rebels not to dishonor the Congo’s name by mistreating foreigners in the areas which they control. The GOC has since issued such an appeal over the radio in Leo.4

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We are once again making certain that the T–28 fighters and B–26 bombers now on loan from the United States to the Congolese Government are under adequate control and following current guidance which is calculated to minimize risks against the lives of Americans in rebel-held areas.

Since this matter will be in the news here at any moment we are consulting urgently what to advise the President when it breaks and we will be in touch with you on this subject shortly.

H. Mills5
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Congo, Vol. V. Top Secret.
  2. Telegram 1341 to Nairobi, October 14, instructed the Ambassador to urge Kenyatta to intervene immediately with the Stanleyville authorities to stop a deed that would shock the conscience of the world and do irreparable harm to Africa. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, PS 7–6 THE CONGO)
  3. At 12:33 p.m. on October 14, Rusk telephoned MacArthur and asked the Ambassador to see if the Belgians could get a message to their people in Stanleyville and urge the overriding necessity of protecting innocent people. (Ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations)
  4. Telegram 1481 from Leopoldville, October 14, transmitted the text of the Congolese Government’s appeal, which declared that the killing of any hostages would be a shocking violation of the Geneva Conventions and that such senseless and brutal killings would constitute a shameful stain on the national honor of the Congolese people. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO)
  5. Hawthorne Mills signed for Read above Read’s typed signature.