Liberian Civil War
PHILADELPHIA – An indictment was unsealed Wednesday charging a Philadelphia-area man with immigration fraud and perjury. The man was arrested at his residence today following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
According to the indictment, in December of 1998, when making application for asylum and later for permanent legal residency, Mohammed Jabbateh, 49, aka “Jungel Jabbah” a citizen of Liberia, lied about his activities during Liberia’s first civil war while he was a member of The United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO) and later ULIMO-K, a rebel group that battled for control of Liberia. Jabbateh was a commander or higher ranking officer in ULIMO and ULIMO-K.
According to the indictment, Jabbateh, during his overall time as a ULIMO commander or higher ranking officer, either personally committed, or ordered ULIMO troops under his command to commit the following nonexclusive list of acts: 1) the murder of civilian noncombatants; 2) the sexual enslavement of women; 3) the public raping of women; 4) the maiming of civilian noncombatants; 5) the torturing of civilian noncombatants 6) the enslavement of civilian noncombatants; 7) the conscription of child soldiers; 8) the execution of prisoners of war; 9) the desecration and mutilation of corpses; and 10) the killing persons because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion.
In January of 1999, during the asylum seeking process, Jabbateh was interviewed by an immigration asylum officer for purposes of determining whether his application should be granted. To this end, it is alleged that Jabbateh falsely responded "no" to the following two queries: 1) "[H]ave you ever committed a crime?"; and 2) "[H]ave you ever harmed anyone else?" On or about December 23, 1999, Jabbateh, largely based upon his answers to questions posed on his Form I-589 asylum application and his answers to questions posed during his asylum application interview, received asylum.
It is alleged that when Jabbateh applied for legal permanent residency by filing a Form I-485 with United States immigration authorities, he falsely responded "No" to the following two questions:
Have you ever engaged in genocide, or otherwise ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the killing of any person because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion?
Are you under a final order of civil penalty for violating section 274C of the Immigration and Nationality Act for use of fraudulent documents or have you, by fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact, ever sought to procure, procured, or procured, a visa, other documentation, or entry into the U.S. or any immigration benefit?
According to the indictment, the defendant knew his answer was false in that he had ordered, incited, assisted, and otherwise participated in the killing of any person because of religion, nationality, ethnic origin, and political opinion; and knew that he had procured asylum in the United States by fraud and willful misrepresentation of material fact.
“The United States has always welcomed refugees and those fleeing oppression, but we will not be a safe haven for alleged human rights violators and war criminals,” said Jack P. Staton, acting HSI Philadelphia special agent in charge.
“This defendant allegedly committed unspeakable crimes in his home country, brutalizing numerous innocent victims,” said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. “He then sought to escape to the United States where he lied about his criminal background on federal immigration forms. This office will use whatever tools are available to bring to justice serious criminals who abuse our immigration process by concealing their background and history.”
If convicted, Jabbateh faces a maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison, a possible fine, a $400 special assessment, and a period of supervised release.
To support the victims in this case and others in the community that may have been victimized by Jabbateh but have not yet reported, HSI has established a Victim Assistance Hotline. Impacted individuals are encouraged to call (215) 717-4987 to speak with a victim assistance specialist.
ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center investigates human rights violators who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. These individuals may use fraudulent identities to enter the country and attempt to blend into U.S. communities.
Since fiscal year 2004, ICE has arrested more than 360 individuals for human rights-related violations under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and physically removed more than 780 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States.
Currently, ICE has more than 125 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,750 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 97 different countries. Over the last four years, ICE's Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center has issued more than 70,100 lookouts for individuals from 111 countries and stopped 193 human rights violators or war crime suspects from entering the United States.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also email HRV.ICE@ice.dhs.gov or complete ICE's online tip form.