Jacquie Burkhardt


In the 1970s, John Banks found mercenaries to fight for the National Liberation Front of Angola (FNLA) against the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) during the Angolan Civil War. Civil War broke out following Angola receiving independence from Portugal in 1975. Portugal arranged that all three of the groups in Angola would have a member in a shared presidency. Unsurprisingly this did not work out well as each group controlled a separate sector and each had armies to back them. The goal of the mercenaries was to overthrow the communist supported government. However the communist group was backed by Russian and Cuban soldiers. Despite having around 100 mercenary fighters, many of those who worked as mercenaries were killed or imprisoned. Four of the mercenaries were sentenced to death (three British and one American).

These mercenaries were from noncommunist countries that often strictly opposed communism in general. The mercenaries showed little to no remorse when they were captured and tried. They truly believed they were fighting against communism and for a brighter future in Angola. Having only recently gained independence each Angolan group did not have a steady military or commanders to help lead their people in the civil war. The mercenaries provided knowledge and expertise. They also had advanced weaponry that Angola was not privy to at the time. After years of fighting as well Angola had few willing fighters left and the mercenaries filled this void. The mercenaries took on the social role as experts in combat, whom some Angolans hoped would lead them to victory. The other two groups in Angola saw the mercenaries as enemies but not too much of a threat because they had communist Russia and Cuba backing them up.

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