Alleged Former Liberian Rebel Commander Arrested in the U.S.
Sekou Kamara, allegedly a former commander of the rebel group LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) during the Second Liberian Civil War (1999-2003) was arrested in New York, U.S., on March 26, 2022.
A criminal complaint was submitted to the United States District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania last week. Mr Kamara is suspected of having lied to the U.S. immigration authorities about his role in the LURD rebel faction in order to enter the country, obtain a permanent resident card (also known as ‘green card’) and then using it to obtain further documents. According to the authorities, his nom de guerre were General K-1 and General Dragon Master.
Mr Kamara, on his initial visa to travel to the U.S., had stated he had never been a member or involved in a “paramilitary unit, vigilante group, rebel group, guerrilla or insurgent organization”. However, Mr Kamara was allegedly a high-ranking member of the LURD, which had been designated as a ‘Tier III’ terrorist group for its violent activities and human right violations. The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recognized LURD as one of the significant violator groups active during the Second Liberian Civil War.
The complaint illustrates how Mr Kamara purportedly appears in several media reports of the Second Liberian Civil War, including a New York Times article dated from 2003, and a documentary.
M. Kamara’s case is the third public criminal prosecution in Philadelphia in connection with the Liberian civil wars.
It follows the 2017 conviction and 30-year prison sentence handed down to Mohammed Jabbateh, former ULIMO (United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy) commander, and the 2018 conviction of Thomas Woewiyu, former spokesman and Minister for Defense of the NPFL (National Patriotic Front of Liberia), who died of COVID in April 2020 before he could be sentenced.
Civitas Maxima and its Liberia-based sister organization, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), have provided assistance to the U.S. authorities during these two previous investigations by facilitating the travel of nearly 40 Liberian to Philadelphia to testify in court against Jabbateh and Woewiyu, and, in cooperation with external partners, undertook legal monitoring of both trials.
This is also the ninth public case since 2012 in relation to which Civitas Maxima and the GJRP have provided or will provide assistance to U.S. and European authorities.
If the case goes forward, M. Kamara would be the first alleged LURD commander to stand trial in relation to the Second Liberian Civil War.
Despite the TRC final report, issued in 2009, recommended criminal prosecutions and the establishment of a Specialized Tribunal for war crimes committed in Liberia, nobody has ever been prosecuted or tried in Liberia for crimes committed during the wars. The two back-to-back conflicts (1989-1997 & 1999-2003) left more than 250,000 dead and hundreds of thousands of refugees.