9 Charged With Plotting Coup in Laos

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Associated Press
Tuesday, June 5, 2007

SACRAMENTO, June 4 -- A former Laotian general and a former California National Guard officer were among nine people charged Monday with plotting a violent overthrow of Laos's communist government.

The group was raising money to recruit a mercenary force and buy enough weapons to equip a small army, including antitank missiles and grenade launchers, prosecutors said.

"We're looking at conspiracy to murder thousands and thousands of people at one time," Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Twiss said in federal court.

He said thousands of co-conspirators remain at large.

Gen. Vang Pao, who immigrated to the United States in about 1975 and has been credited by thousands of Hmong refugees with helping them build new lives here, is accused of being the mastermind. He was charged with conspiracy to topple Laotian leaders.

Also charged was former California National Guard Lt. Col. Harrison Ulrich Jack, who is accused of acting as an arms broker and organizer.

Vang had led CIA-backed Hmong forces in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s as a general in the Royal Army of Laos, while Jack is a 1968 West Point graduate who was involved in covert operations during the Vietnam War.

The attorneys for Vang and Jack had no immediate comment after Monday's court proceeding.

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