When a British gang wanted to kidnap Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef

In 1953 and after being exiled to Madagascar by the French, a British gang was offered £ 250,000 to kidnap Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef. The gang had the best kidnapping plot that was later uncovered by the French authorities. 

Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef./Ph. DR
Eddie Chapman, leader of the British gang./Ph. The Sun-Herald

In 1953, a notorious British gang was about to perform one of the most audacious kidnapping. Just like the best spy movies, they were planning to sail all the way down to Madagascar and kidnap Morocco’s Sultan Mohammed Ben Youssef. If the plan was delivered perfectly they were set to win 250,000 pounds. Headed by Eddie Chapman, an English wartime spy, and Billy Hill an English criminal linked to smuggling, protection rackets and extreme violence, the gang sailed to Tangier on a vessel named Flamingo to start the first step of their well-studied plot. 

According to an old article published by the Sun-Herald, an Australian newspaper, on October the 10th 1954, the gang sailed to Tangier which was an international area back in the time, where they met two leading members of the Arab Nationalist movement.

The Plot

As put together by the two criminals, the plan was to sail using the «fully armed Flamingo» to Madagascar where the king was exiled, surround the police headquarters with the help of 12 Arab gunmen while Chapman would kidnap the Sultan. 

A screen shot of the article published on the Sun-Herald./Ph. FacebookA screen shot of the article published on the Sun-Herald./Ph. Facebook

The kidnapping plan was a collaboration between the British gang and an Arab leader to help the Moroccan Sultan join his people and chase the French. Hence, after retrieving the Sultan from his exile home, a high Egyptian leader of the Arab-league would «fly to Tangier to arrange for the Flamingo to radio by secret wave-length its position in the Indian Ocean after the kidnapping», The Sun-Herald reported. 

Egypt would later send a seaplane to pick up the Sultan and help him fly to the same coutry and then to Morocco where he would have been scheduled to head the Arab Nationalist movement in an attempt to defeat the French. 

When the plan got uncovered

Trying to follow the plan and prepare for the kidnapping, the Flamingo did a smuggling trial making a profit of 18,000 pounds on «contraband cigarettes». Later on June, French authorities managed to unveil the hidden plans of the British gang. Consequently the Flamingo crew fled to Savona, a small town in Italy where they stayed to hide. The same source indicates that their yacht was watched by the Interpol. 

An artcile published by the Sunday Mail newspaper./Ph. FacebookAn artcile published by the Sunday Mail newspaper./Ph. Facebook

Through the international police, the French managed to lay a hand on the criminal record of Hill and Chapman and every other member of the Flamingo’s crew. The plot was revealed as the ship carriage of guns was suspected. 

Sailing to Corsica, a Mediterranean island and French territory, Chapman went back to England to visit his wife who had given birth to a child. Billy Hill on his turn flew back to London before the French authorities arrested the vessel.

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