Shot from the movie Mr. Bob (2011), Clovis Cornillac as Denard
From the article "Soldiers of Fortune" and "Wild Geese" we remember that, after returning to Paris from Congo, Robert Denard began working on the creation of a company for recruiting mercenaries, called “Soldier of Fortune”. But in the office of his office, Denaru was bored, and therefore he himself continued to fight. At the same time, he never hid behind the backs of his fighters, and therefore, as he recalled, during his life “was wounded 5 times, not counting scratches.”
At some point, Denard's reputation reached such heights that in force majeure situations, when he took under his guard some applicant or an already established dictator, they were ready to pay him up to 20 thousand dollars per hour. To the journalist of Izvestia, G. Zotov, who was interested in the prices of his services, Denard said with a grin:
“There is one price on Komor, in Moscow it will cost more ... Do you have any special plan for a coup?” If there is, let's discuss, maybe I will like it and I will give you a discount ... If someone orders three coups in bulk, it will be cheaper. ”
(It seems that Denar simply “besieged” the amateur who asked the inappropriate question with such an answer.)
But you don’t need to think that, having appeared in any country, Bob Denard immediately picked up his beloved AK-47 and started firing from it in all directions, clearing the surroundings. No, he also provided much more serious services: somewhere he helped to form guards units, somewhere he assisted in the creation of counterintelligence, acted as a military adviser, advised on various sensitive matters, and trained personnel.
New adventures of Bob Denard
After the defeat of the "uprising of white mercenaries" (it was described in the article "Soldiers of Fortune" and "Wild Geese") and returning from Congo Denard received an invitation from his old friend Roger Fulk, who called him to Nigeria. There at that time a new self-proclaimed state appeared - the Republic of Biafra (existed until January 1970).
Nigeria and Biafra
Here, Bob Denard served mainly as a “mercenaire de la charite” - a “mercenary of mercy”: he was engaged in the evacuation of refugees from the war zone. But the situation was such that periodically had to fight.
One of the groups of mercenary Biafra
Then the friends went their separate ways: convinced of the inevitability of the defeat of the rebels, Fulk took his people out of Biafra ahead of time and returned to France, and Robert Denard went to Gabon, where Albert Bongo, former captain of the French Air Force, was in power (in 1973 he will convert to Islam and will become Al Hajj Omar Bongo). Denard became the instructor of the presidential guard and military adviser to the president, and also greatly assisted in the creation of Societe Gabonaise de Securite, the country's counterintelligence service. He fulfilled one more unusual and unexpected task: he supervised the construction of a social settlement in the city of Lekoni, which was “spied” in Côte d'Ivoire on the African analogue of the Israeli kibbutz.
In 1971, Denard ended up in Mauritania, where he also participated in organizing the presidential guard of this country (apparently, this has already become one of the main specialties of this mercenary commander), in 1972 he trained Kurdish separatist detachments in Iran, which were just about to fight in Iraqi Kurdistan . Having glanced briefly in Guinea in 1973, the next year went to Libya, which just at that time, against the backdrop of the ongoing civil war in the country, the troops of neighboring Egypt entered. He fought on the side of the monarchists.
On August 3, 1975, Denard first appeared in the Comoros, the result of this visit was the flight of Ahmed Abdullah Abderman, president of this small state and former senator of France. Then he participated in the preparation of special units of the secret services of Morocco.
Fatal failure in Benin
It was the king of Morocco who was the "sponsor" of the failed coup in Benin in 1977. According to Denard himself, through this monarch, French special services came to him, and the base for training was provided by the President of Gabon Omar Bongo.
It all started well: the people of Denard immediately captured the capital's airport and, reaching the presidential palace, began to fire at it from grenade launchers, partially collapsing the walls. But Denar was desperately out of luck that day: President Kereke was at that time in the port, where the ship with the Soviet rifle was unloading weapons. Upon learning of the attack on the palace, he raised the alarm of the army units, having thrown into the battle even the North Korean special forces of his personal guard. Denard’s squad retreated to the airport, where the plane that damaged the mercenaries in Benin was damaged in a shootout. I had to capture the Indian airliner, on which they reached the capital of Rhodesia Salisbury, where they were arrested.
This история in the future, Denard turned into big trouble, because it was for this unsuccessful attempt that he was convicted in France in 1993. Denard then complained that he had suffered on the instructions of the heads of four states, who ended up having nothing to do with it, and 16 years after those events he received 5 years probation.
But we will return to Rhodesia and see that Denard did not disappear there, but, on the contrary, ended up in the role of an instructor of units participating in battles with partisans. Indeed, it would be foolish for the Rhodesians not to use the services of a specialist of such a level that literally “came down from heaven” to their territory.
Return to Congo
And in the summer of 1977, Denard ended up in the Congo, where he fought ... for Mobutu, of course, the dictator whom he and Shram tried to overthrow in 1967 (this was described in the article "Soldiers of Fortune" and "Wild Geese").
The troops of the Congo National Liberation Front (“Katanga Tigers”), led by General Nathaniel Mbumba, the same one who, together with Jean Schramm, defended the city of Bukava in the same 1967, then invaded Shaba province from Angola.
At the request of Valerie Giscard d'Estaing (President of France), King of Hassan II of Morocco sent XNUMX paratroopers to Zaire, with whom Denard arrived. In November, the Tigers were defeated and retreated to Angola.
Mobutu met Denard as a native and did not ask him a single question about the events of 10 years ago: who remembers the old, that eye is out. And I think I was very pleased at the same time that an old friend came to Congo with Moroccans, and not with the Tigers. In 1978, the Tigers would come to Katanga again and the legionnaires of the Second Parachute Regiment of the Foreign Legion would have to fight with them. But about this - another time and in another article, which you will soon be able to read.
Denard returned to Comoros in 1978.
The customer for the second coup in Comoros was Ahmed Abdullah Abderman, a former president whom Denard successfully “fired” two and a half ago. Denar did not have any obligations to the then Comorian head of Komor, Ali Sualih Mtsashiva, since he himself (later) came to power as a result of a coup.
Comoros on a map
It was with this operation, which Denard called Atlantis, that the great world fame of this mercenary commander began. A total of 46 Merseners (almost all of them were French) sailed from the port of Lorient (Brittany) on a fishing trawler and, after a long voyage on May 29, 1978, landed right on the beach in Moroni (the capital of the Republic of Comoros, the island of Gran Comor). A lightning attack followed by the residence of the head of state, the barracks of the national guard and the strongholds of the youth paramilitary movement "Moissy".
The head of Comoros Ali Sualih, according to rumors, was shot dead right in the bed in which he slept with two wives, but Denard claimed that the local opponents had seized and torn to pieces the Swalich who had been taken out of the palace.
After that, other islands were captured: Anjouan and Moheli.
Denard in the Comoros, 1978
Returning, Ahmed Abdallah appointed Denard as Minister of the Interior and Commander of the Presidential Guard.
Ahmed Abdullah Abderman
Bob Denard and his Comorian Guards
However, the United States and France (who wanted to maintain their monopoly on the right to organize military coups in Africa) and the Organization of African Unity expressed outrage at the actions of Denard. This noise around the distant and little-known inhabitants of the Comoros proves that until 1978 Denard really, as he always claimed, worked in close contact with special services, and therefore the “world community” until then was very indulgent in its activities.
September 26, Robert Denard, defiantly abandoning all posts, flew to South Africa to return to Comoros a few days later: he decided to linger on these paradise islands.
Moroni, the capital of Comoros
Denard received Comorian citizenship, married and even converted to Islam and a new name - Said Mustafa Majub, according to some reports, he performed the hajj.
“In France, I am a Christian, and in Comoros I am a Muslim, that's all. We must respect the religion of the country where you live, "
- so he then explained his decision.
Saeed Mustafa Majub (Bob Denar) at the Moroni Mosque. Comoros, 1989
And he also created a military base of mercenaries here: it was from here that he organized expeditions to Angola and Mozambique.
“For many years, the AK-47 was my personal barrel in the Comoros ... Russian weapons of excellent quality. "Soviet military equipment has been in the arsenal of African countries for many years, and this shows its reliability, as Africans can break anything."
Having become the chief military adviser to the president, he lived on Comoros for the next eleven years. Thanks to his connections in South Africa, the Comoros became the most important partner of this country under international sanctions, receiving great benefits from trade with it (it was through Comoros, for example, the supply of arms). The South African government, in turn, provided economic assistance to the friendly state. Thanks to Denard and financial assistance from South Africa, the so-called integration center for agricultural development with an experimental farm, which allocated 600 hectares of land, appeared on Comoros. Through Denara there were also investments in the hotel and construction business.
In 1981, Denara was invited to the CHAD by the Minister of Defense of this country, General Hissen Habré. The “Mercenary King” led the Minister’s allies, the Tubu tribes, who launched an offensive from Sudan in the fall. It all ended with the seizure of the capital in June 1982 and the flight of President Chad Weddei. After this, Denard began work on the creation of the presidential guard, but under pressure from the jealous French, he was forced to return to the Comoros.
In 1987, Denard found himself in a completely unexpected place - a quiet provincial Australia, where he was negotiating with emigrants from the island state of the Republic of Vanuatu (previously it was called New Hebrides). These were the leaders of the banned party "Wanguacu", founded by a certain prophet Muli, who tried to revive the Aboriginal religion. In May-June 1980, he led a rebellion on the island of Spirito Santo, was defeated and sentenced to 14 years in prison. They tried to persuade Denara to organize the abduction of the "prophet," but his proposal did not interest him.
The mysterious death of Ahmed Abdullah Abderman
On the night of November 27, 1989, an event occurred on Comoros, about the reasons for which researchers cannot come to a common opinion so far.
Denard later claimed that one of Ahmed Abdullah Abderman’s guards (a close relative of the president) “opened heavy fire from the machine gun without explanation”. And that he still does not know who exactly he attempted: perhaps the bullets were intended for Denaru, the president was killed by accident.
One way or another, Abdullah died, and in his papers an order was found to transfer powers in an emergency to the head of his guard, Saeed Mustafa Majub (Robert Denard).
Many decided that Denard decided to get rid of the president in order to put another person in his place or even to lead this state himself. However, it is known that Abdullah was a close friend of the Frenchman, and they simply did not have special reasons for such a cool showdown.
The commander Ahmed Mohammed, who led the armed forces of the Comoros (Forces Armues Comoriennes), is much more suspicious: after the assassination of the president, the presidential guard was disarmed by his order, but Denard managed to take control of the situation.
But in whose interests did Mohammed act? It is possible that the customers were the French, who then “kicked” Denard from the Comoros, sending 3 French soldiers against him with the support of 5 ships.
Denard was forced to flee to South Africa, having lost almost all his money, and this serves as indirect evidence of his innocence: otherwise, he would have surely secured himself by withdrawing part of the money to some offshore zone. For three years he came to his senses, mainly writing memoirs and journalistic activities: he founded the news agency Courrier Austral (South Mail, not Australian - it specialized in news on South and Sub-Equatorial Africa) and released Magazine de l'homme d'action ”(“ Journal of the man of action ”). But his reputation was such that when a new coup attempt occurred on September 26, 1992 in Comoros (led by the sons of the former president), everyone immediately blamed him for the “mercenary king” who was peacefully sitting in South Africa. However, no evidence of Denar’s participation was found.
Non-triumphant return to France
In South Africa at that time, it was toward the victory of the supporters of N. Mandela (who was released from prison on February 11, 1990 and became president on May 10, 1994) and was becoming "uncomfortable" here. Therefore, Denard returned to France on February 1, 1993, where he was immediately arrested on charges of organizing a 1977 coup in Benin, and spent 65 days in prison (we have already mentioned this in this article). But suddenly it turned out that he often acted in close contact with the French secret services, while remaining a private person, and it was difficult to determine the fine line behind which the interests of France ended and the interests of Denard and his clients began.
“Often the French authorities did not give me the green light, but I went to yellow,” Denard himself commented on this later.
Therefore, the "king of mercenaries" was given 5 years probation, advising them to live quietly and "not to shine."
Denard was already a world celebrity (even “mad Mike” - Hoar envied his fame). After the release, reports about him hit the front pages of all the media, and viewers had the pleasure of seeing tears of nostalgia flow down the streets of his hometown of Bordeaux on the cheeks of the “king of mercenaries”.
In 1994, Denard took over as commercial director of Societe Internationale Business Services, an agency for the recruitment of military specialists (we remember that in France they were often called mercenaries). Many researchers believe that in the same year, Denard participated in sending mercenaries to Rwanda in the civil war.
And in September 1995, Denard suddenly took a personal part in his last military expedition - again to Comoros, where he arrested the pro-French President Said Johar. Well, what can you do? He liked to make coups in the Comoros. At that time, Denaru was already 66 years old (according to some sources, 68), but, as they say, you won’t drink skill - you remember your hands.
This adventure of the “king of mercenaries”, the last years of his life, as well as the fate of other famous condottiers, Roger Fulk, Mike Hoare, Jean Schramm, will be described in the next article.