Utah guy declined a $100,000 proposition to travel to Congo for a’security job’ that was a clandestine coup attempt

A close associate of the son of a well-known Congolese opposition leader revealed that he declined a lucrative six-figure proposal to accompany the family as part of their security team on a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Little did he know that this journey would be associated with an unsuccessful coup endeavor.

Marcel Malanga, the 21-year-old son of the eccentric coup leader Christian Malanga, found himself in custody on Sunday morning. He was detained by Congolese forces along with a former classmate from their hometown of West Jordan, Utah. This happened shortly after Marcel’s father was killed in a shootout while resisting arrest. Among the others arrested after an ill-fated attack on the presidential palace in Kinshasa was Tyler Thompson, 21, a teammate of Marcel’s from high school football.

According to Brig. Gen. Sylvain Ekenge, the spokesperson for the Congolese army, six individuals lost their lives and numerous arrests were made in connection with the attack on the residence of a key ally of President Felix Tshisekedi. Among those apprehended were three Americans.

According to Daniel Gonzalez, a former teammate of the two individuals from Utah involved in the failed coup, Marcel had approached him with an offer. Marcel proposed that Daniel become a security guard for his politician father in Congo, offering him a substantial sum of $50,000 to $100,000 for a four-month period. Although the 22-year-old FedEx worker was tempted by the offer, he ultimately turned it down due to the lack of specific information. Daniel’s decision was driven by his desire to spend the summer with his girlfriend.

Gonzalez expressed sympathy for Tyler and Marcel, acknowledging the difficult situation they found themselves in. However, she also expressed gratitude for not being a part of it, recognizing that she would have been in a similarly frightening position if she had gone.

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Marcel’s tempting proposal to Gonzalez provides insight into how he could have persuaded Thompson to join them on what Miranda, his stepmother, claimed to be a leisurely getaway.

The American son of the coup leader approached his former football teammates with a range of proposals, all in a bid to find someone willing to accompany him to Congo. Some were persuaded by the idea of a family vacation, while others were enticed by the prospect of a service trip aimed at constructing wells in communities affected by drought.

According to multiple teammates who spoke to the AP, it remains uncertain if Thompson was actually offered money. However, he did mention the possibility of financial incentives to one friend, suggesting that the trip could present a significant financial opportunity for him.

According to Thompson’s family, they believe that he has become a political pawn in an international conflict, being involved under false pretenses. Since the coup, they have not had any direct communication with their son, which has caused them to worry about his safety, as stated by his stepmother.

Marcel’s mother, Brittney Sawyer, firmly believes that her son is innocent and explains that he was simply following his father’s lead.

Christian Malanga, the leader of the Congolese opposition political party who was tragically killed, identified himself as the president of a shadow government in exile known as the “New Zaire.” In his website, he portrayed himself as a refugee who resettled in Salt Lake City with his family during the 1990s. Initially, he pursued business ventures in gold mining and used car sales before ultimately returning to Congo with the aim of advocating for political reforms.

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During his campaign for the Congolese Parliament, he made the claim that he had been imprisoned and subjected to brutal beatings. In a manifesto that he subsequently published, he outlined his proposals for reforming Congo’s security services and characterized his movement as a collective initiative to mobilize fellow emigrants against the existing authoritarian regime in Congo.

“Marcel’s dad was a mystery to him. It wasn’t until he spent last summer in Africa that he truly got to know him,” Gonzalez revealed. “Marcel had no clue about the magnitude of what he was getting us into, otherwise, he would have never offered. He’s truly a remarkable friend.”

In the early hours of Sunday, Christian Malanga started live streaming a video on social media from inside the palace. He is accompanied by his armed son, who quickly covers his face with a neck gaiter, appearing alert and observant. The authorities in Congo have not provided any comments regarding how the attackers managed to gain access to the premises.

Gonzalez, who hails from Herriman, Utah, revealed that he had used Snapchat to discuss the financial offer with Marcel in the months preceding the coup attempt. To his astonishment, he later discovered the true nature of the trip.

Marcel informed Gonzalez that his father had agreed to let him hire a friend as a companion during his summer abroad. Gonzalez mentioned that Marcel was thrilled about being able to provide a significant sum of money to a dear friend who was in need of it.

Marcel assured us that the Malangas offered enticing opportunities: on-the-job training, full coverage of travel expenses, and a chance to discover a new part of the world while earning an income. However, he didn’t divulge much about his father’s background, focusing instead on the safety of the endeavor.

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Gonzalez and his mother were not concerned about the trip’s safety, even though the U.S. State Department advised against traveling to Congo. However, when his girlfriend requested him to stay for four months, he decided to decline the opportunity.

Marcel later shared private Snapchat videos with Gonzalez, which revealed Thompson appearing fearful as Congolese soldiers encircled their vehicle. In their last Snapchat conversation before being captured, Gonzalez expressed concern for Thompson’s well-being and advised them to prioritize their safety.

Marcel confirmed to him that they were.

Luke Barbee and Jaden Lalor, former football teammates of Marcel, were perplexed by the various explanations they had heard regarding the trip. They couldn’t understand why Marcel was so insistent on bringing someone along. The idea that their friends could be involved in a violent attack was unfathomable to them.

Marcel is like a brother to me, and Tyler is a good friend. I strongly believe that Marcel’s father must have influenced them due to his own selfish desires,” Lalor expressed. “All I want is for them to return home safely.”

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