45. Editorial Note

On the night of November 27, 1960, Patrice Lumumba, who had been confined to his house since early October, slipped past the United Nations and Congolese National Army troops guarding his residence and set out for Stanleyville, where Antoine Gizenga was regrouping Lumumba’s supporters. On November 28, the Chief of Station cabled the Central Intelligence Agency that the Station was working with the Congolese Government “to get roads blocked and troops alerted possible escape route.” (Interim Report, page 48) The former prime minister was captured in Kasai Province around midnight on December 1 by Congolese National Army troops. On December 2 he was flown to Leopoldville; the next day he was imprisoned at Thysville.

In 1975 the Church Committee looked into the question of whether the Central Intelligence Agency had played any role in either Lumumba’s escape or his recapture. A senior case officer called Michael Mulroney in the Church Committee’s Interim Report, who was in Leopoldville at the time of Lumumba’s escape, testified that he had been prepared to “neutralize” Lumumba by drawing him away from UN custody and turning him over to the legal Congolese authorities, but he denied any responsibility for Lumumba’s escape or his subsequent recapture. He testified in addition that a CIA operative QJWIN (see Document 46 and footnote 5 thereto), who arrived in Leopoldville on November 21 and worked for Mulroney, also bore no responsibility. The Chief of Station at the time testified that he was “quite certain that there was no Agency involvement in any way” in Lumumba’s escape and that he had no advance knowledge of Lumumba’s plans. The Chief of Station said he consulted with Congolese authorities about possible routes Lumumba might take to Stanleyville, but he was “not a major assistance” in tracking him down prior to his capture. (Interim Report, pages 42–44, 48–49)

In its 988-page report released in 2001 following a parliamentary inquiry into the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, a Belgian parliamentary committee reported that telegrams in Belgian Government files, sent to Brussels by way of the embassy in Brazzaville, did not appear to support as modest a role in the recapture of Lumumba as claimed by officials in their testimony before the Church Committee. The parliamentary committee verified that Belgian advisers at Leopoldville participated actively in the hunt for Lumumba, and, the committee indicated, “indirectly, we can equally confirm that the CIA played, in this hunt, a more important role than the Church Committee report, presented in 1975 by the American Senate, was willing to admit.” However, the report does not provide specific documentation [Page 61] on the U.S. role. (Chambre des Représentants de Belgique, November 16, 2001, Enquète Parlementaire, Document 50: 0312/006, Rapport Fair au Nom de la Commission D’Enquète, volume 1, pages 219–225, volume 2, page 595; quotation translated from French)