502. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1

46. Subj: Tshombe kidnapping.2

1. Bomboko told me this morning that Tshombe’s kidnapping and arrival in Algiers had come as surprise to GDRC. MPR Political Bureau had met at length on Sat night and had decided under circumstances it essential that Tshombe be extradited and punished. Basis of extradition, papers for which had been carefully prepared, was common crimes committed by Tshombe. There strong popular pressure now to wipe out Tshombe who is center of or excuse for continuing disorder and sabotage in Congo. Pro-Tshombists were responsible for Lubudi bridge bombings and economic sabotage. Tshombe has continuously plotted overthrow Mobutu govt and elimination of its principal leaders from President down, even if this were to throw Congo into new crisis. It now in vital interest Congolese to eliminate Tshombe, as doing so will remove center around which so much that is troubling Congo revolves.

2. Re details extradition. Bomboko said he had tried discuss matter by phone with Algiers yesterday, but no one could be found in Algerian FonOff. He had then had discussion with Algerian Amb from Brazza who had given GDRC to understand extradition possible but had concurrently also mentioned importance GDRC voting with Arabs and GA (Kinshasa 47)3 as tacit condition. GDRC also in touch with GOA through Algerian Amb in Madrid who had suggested GDRC send delegation. This morning Mungul-Diaka (Congolese Amb to Algeria and First Secretary MPR), Alcidor Kabeya (Chief Prosecutor (Procuror General)), and his own Assistant Chef de Cabinet, left for Algiers via Athens and Rome (note ACL 5708 which reports Security Chief Singa and group of paratroopers also accompanied above group). Bomboko said he expected Tshombe to be brought here for trial directly and in matter of days.

3. Told Bomboko that he should recognize there likely be strong American public outcry against Tshombe kidnapping. Said basis for [Page 733] strong negative reaction would be means by which Tshombe seized plus reaction against further political hangings. Recalled we had assured Mobutu on several occasions that USG supported his regime and had no brief for Tshombe. Reminded him that when French kidnapped Ben Bella in 1957, there had been similar reaction and USG had protested to French.

4. Bomboko said he recognized this but urged that we in turn recognize that GDRC had no other alternative but to demand Tshombe’s extradition once Tshombe in African hands. I told Bomboko that I had no desire interfere in internal affairs of Congo and that I not acting on instructions, but as friend of Congo. I felt personally obliged to warn him of strong reaction I expected and to urge him to handle Tshombe affair quickly, with justice and without starting what would seem to be extensive purge trials. Bomboko took all this very seriously and said he would report at once to Mobutu.

5. Comment: Occasion offered by Bomboko comment on relation GA vote to Tshombe extradition gave me perfect opportunity to knock home what I was sure would be US views on Tshombe affair. Am convinced however that we have not slightest chance of changing Tshombe’s fate and in fact I do not think this would be appropriate course of action for us to attempt. We have plenty of evidence that Tshombe has done everything he can to overthrow Mobutu govt through subversion, mercenaries, etc. Furthermore what Bomboko told me is basically true, namely that if Tshombe had had chance to regain political power through violent means, he would not have shrunk from causing deaths of many Congolese or from wiping out present govt. Seems to me that only constructive course open for us at this point is to try ensure that Tshombe’s trial and inevitable execution don’t get out of hand. We will continue act quietly in that sense unless Dept objects.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 30 THE CONGO. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated to Brussels, Madrid, and Algiers and passed to the White House and USIA.
  2. On June 30, Tshombe was kidnapped on his way to Majorca in a chartered British plane and taken to Algiers.
  3. Dated July 3. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR/UN)