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gvopedz

Louis Armstrong and the spy in Congo

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It was a memorable evening: Louis Armstrong, his wife and a diplomat from the US embassy were out for dinner in a restaurant in what was still Léopoldville, capital of the newly independent Congo….

What Armstrong did not know was that his host that night in November 1960 was not the political attaché as described, but the head of the CIA in Congo. He was also totally unaware of how his fame had allowed the spy who was making small talk across the starters to gain crucial information that would facilitate some of the most controversial operations of the entire cold war.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/sep/12/louis-armstrong-and-the-spy-how-the-cia-used-him-as-a-trojan-horse-in-congo

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Thanks for posting.

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Sad and shameful. But that's what the state dept and see eye a do. Peoples' lives don't matter when there's resources and profits to be had. 

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In follow up, the above article promotes a new book from Susan Williams called White Malice which talks about this episode.

However, Karl Evanzz detailed what happened back in his 1992 book The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcom X, specifically his chapter 8 from that book "Lament for Lumumba."

It's detailed there that Armstrong was already controversial on the international scene as an American Goodwill Ambassador appointed by Eisenhower. He had been accused of being a member of an Israeli spy network by the Egyptian press, which led Armstrong to be banned from Lebanon 5 days later.

The State Dept's request (or perhaps demand?) that Armstrong's last stop on his 8 week tour be Leopoldville was done as cover to hide the presence of Loy Henderson. Henderson was a high level State Dept figure whose specific assignment in this case was Lumumba's assassination. He coordinated this with foreign mercenaries (one mentioned in the above article) and local conspirators. The demi-god status of Armstrong was deftly used as a distraction/trojan horse to finalize Lumumba's fate. Of note, there had already been several assassination attempts on Lumumba that failed. Henderson, who'd had success in Greece ('52) and Iran ('54), was the trusted hard case that officials knew could get the job done, and Armstrong's distraction was a key component that allowed he and the merc team to arrive and set up shot basically unnoticed. 

Unfortunately for Lumumba and the rest of the world, Henderson proved to be successful. The assassins successfully kidnapped Lumumba, beat and tortured him and flew him to a safe house where Godefroid Munongo (a leader from the Katanga province) stabbed him in the chest with a bayonet (Lumumba's hands were bound behind his back). As Lumumba begged for his life, a Belgian merc "Colonel Huyghe" (CIA code name QJ/WIN, and a career criminal involved in other projects) got angry, screamed nonsense at Lumumba and shot him point blank in the head. They then loaded the leader's body in a vat of acid supplied by the agency. 

Prior to describing that tragic event, in the same chapter Evanzz mentions additional jazz-world connections to Lumumba. It was Abby Lincoln's CAWAH (Cultural Assoc for Women of African Heritage) that organized a protest march in response to America's refusal to grant Lumumba a visa to attend the opening UN session in Sept '60. 

Evanzz's book probably should have been mentioned by that Guardian article. If Williams used it for her book then hopefully she credits it properly. 

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