Thwarted Sabotage in Zambia

On November 2, 1966, the Federal Bureau of Investigation learned that a plot to destroy a railroad bridge in the Republic of Zambia had been uncovered. The bridge was to be destroyed by November 18, 1966. An American citizen, Franklin Boyd Thurman, was involved and had offered $50,000 as payment for the job.

FBI Agents located Thurman in a Miami, Florida, motel. During an interview on November 3, 1966, he denied any knowledge of or complicity in the alleged plot to destroy the bridge. He explained his travel to Israel, England, and Zambia as business travel performed for his employer, a New York affiliate of a German metals firm. Thurman stated that his immediate superior was Samuel Frederick Winston (fictitious name), a vice-president of the firm. Thurman had worked for Winston for approximately six months.

Although Thurman claimed to be in Miami for pleasure, investigation revealed he had been in touch with Winston and two local men repeatedly.

Winston, a naturalized United States citizen of German parentage, was interviewed on November 4, 1966, by FBI Agents. He gave a similar explanation of Thurman's connection with the firm and stated Thurman was in Florida on business. He denied any knowledge of the alleged plan to sabotage the railroad bridge in Zambia. Winston explained his and Thurman's travel to that country in August and September 1966, as being related to establishing representation for the corporation with industry and government officials. Winston explained that the chief business of the firm was trading in copper, and Zambia was one of the world's foremost producers of copper.

On November 4, 1966, Thurman returned to New York from Florida, and while under surveillance by FBI Agents, he went to Winston's home.

The two men Thurman had been in contact with repeatedly while in Florida admitted to FBI Agents that they had been hired by Thurman and Winston to destroy a railroad bridge located eight miles southwest of Mazabuka, Zambia. They produced a map given to them by Thurman which indicated the precise location of the bridge. They stated that they understood the purpose of the plot was to interrupt the flow of copper via railroad from Zambia, a landlocked country, to the ports from which it was exported. The consequent disruption of the world's copper market was expected to enhance the financial position of Winston and the firm. The two men detailed discussions with Thurman and Winston regarding the mechanics of blowing up the bridge during the period October 19-25, 1966. They stated they had been offered $25,000 plus expenses to carry out the demolition.

The two Florida men retained the option to abort the entire project if it appeared that there was a possibility of loss of life. They planned to use a 24-hour non-electrical timing device. This would provide a reliable method which would allow them sufficient time to either leave the country or establish an alibi elsewhere in Zambia. They planned to obtain visas to enter Zambia under the guise of being free lance photographers and to visit several other places before and after Zambia to firmly establish their alibi.

They decided to ship the dynamite to Zambia in the cabinet of an air conditioner. They planned to purchase two identical air conditioners of sufficient size. One would be sent without modification as a "dry run." Thurman would be in Zambia to receive it and observe its handling by customs officials. If it passed without close examination, the two Florida men were to go to Zambia, and the other air conditioner, with the dynamite packed inside, would be shipped.

Jesse Wayne Wilkerson (fictitious name), an employee of Winston's, had been aware of the plot, although, upon Winston's instructions, he had not discussed it with Thurman. On a morning during the period October 25-28, 1966, Wilkerson accompanied Thurman and Winston to a hardware store where he showed them a timer and asked if it would do. Thurman explained that it was not suitable since it was not a 24-hour non-electrical device. He then asked the shop owner if he had anything along those lines. The shop owner knew Wilkerson as a customer and tried unsuccessfully to find the required item.

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