Three Americans Allegedly Linked to Coup Attempt in DRC

Three Americans took part in an attempted attack on Congo’s presidential palace, led by opposition leader Christian Malanga. Malanga, with a background in gold mining and cars, convinced his son from Utah to join the failed coup. Six individuals, including Malanga, lost their lives, and several people, including the three Americans, were detained.

Malanga was fatally shot in a confrontation early Sunday with presidential guards. Authorities are investigating how Malanga’s 21-year-old son, Marcel, transitioned from playing high school football to allegedly participating in an attempt to overthrow the ruler of one of Africa’s largest nations.

Malanga’s dad portrayed himself as a refugee who prospered after moving to the U.S. in the 1990s with his family. However, court documents and interviews presented a different image of Malanga, who was previously convicted in Utah in 2001 for offenses including assault with a firearm, domestic violence, battery, and disturbing the peace.

He claimed to be the president of the “New Zaire” exiled government and published a document outlining plans for business ventures and restructuring Congo’s security services.

Malanga’s relatives gathered at his mother’s residence in West Jordan to grieve. Dino Mahtani, an independent researcher focusing on African affairs, mentioned that Congolese officials suspected Malanga’s involvement in a supposed plot to assassinate then-President Joseph Kabila.

Mahtani suggested that Malanga may have been framed or betrayed during the weekend assault, citing the dubious nature of its execution. Another American allegedly involved, Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polun, was a graduate of the University of Colorado who had taken business administration courses at Georgetown University.

Zalman-Polun admitted guilt in 2014 to drug trafficking charges in the U.S., confessing to conspiring with a companion to transport at least 20 kilograms of marijuana from a base in Lake Tahoe, California, to clients nationwide.

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