Taylor’s Crocodile Tears

The Perspective

November 5, 2001

Following the September 11 attacks, President Taylor made several overtures that some considered to be sincere. First he signed the book of condolence pretending to console the Americans. The book was brought to him at the Executive Mansion, while others who signed the book of condolence had to do so at the American Embassy. And in a theatrical effort to appear sincere, he made the following statements at an intercessory service:

"The hands of evil have struck America, tomorrow it could be any other country. If we remain divided and silent, our enemies may gain an upper hand in their quest… Your [America's] losses are our losses, your grief is our grief, where you go there we will go, where you stand there we will stand, your God shall be our God, your people shall be our people."

President Taylor even offered to send troops to help the Americans:

"We are not ruling out the possibility of providing troops, neither are we taking it off the table, it all depends on what is requested."

From the onset, however, The Perspective warned that Mr. Taylor who supervised the slaughter of over 250,000 hapless Liberians and fueled the war in Sierra Leone, which is responsible for cutting-off the limbs of thousands of women, children and the elderly, was just "shedding crocodile tears".

We when further to cautioned the Americans by saying: "As America assembles the coalition necessary to pinpoint, rid and eviscerate the forces that perpetrated this sinister, cowardly act against the bastion of democracy, it should be mindful that there are people among us who want to use this tragedy for their own political purpose. And chief among them is Liberia's Charles Taylor, who is shedding crocodile tears.

"In the midst of this horrendous human experience, we should not lose sight of meaning and content. We must be able to distinguish between empty rhetoric and reality, thereby calling into question the sincerity of people with terroristic proclivities".

The Perspective concluded, "his chief mentor on the African Continent is Gadaffi of Libya who is listed by the U.S. State Dept as one of the sponsors of international terrorism… Taylor is closer to Osama Bin Laden than to America and no empty flowery words can obscure the truth."

As expected, The Perspective observation did not go down well with the Taylor government. In response, Molley Passawe, Taylor’s Press Secretary had this to say regarding our honest assessment:

"With the high velocity of diplomatic tension and rancor between Washington and Monrovia, no doubt, Taylor’s detractors had expected nothing less than an ‘Allah aku-ba’ (Allah is Great) from Liberia following the September 11 terrorist attacks on America. Instead they got the shock of their lives when Liberians openly condemned terrorism and sided with America.

"The Perspective and other detractors should cease capitalizing on America’s tragedy by using it as a medium to get back at the Liberian people and their president. For those Liberians in the U.S. who are masters in the game of exploitation, the best use they could make of the terrorist attacks on America is to sign up when the burgle sounds for war against global terrorism. Then there will be no need for them to seek political asylum by lying to U.S. immigration that persecution awaits them at home. When they sign up, there will be no longer be any need to pine and whine for the ever ephemeral Temporary Protective Status (TPS)."

But the truth has begun to emerge. Mr. Taylor’s link with Osama bin Laden is coming to light. In a recent Washington Post article titled: Diamonds mined in Sierra Leone enrich Al Qaeda, Douglas Farah wrote:

"The diamond dealers are selected by Ibrahim Bah, a Libyan-trained former Senegalese rebel and the RUF's principal diamond dealer, the sources said. The buyers' identities are known only to Bah and a few others.

"Bah's contacts and sympathies were forged on the battlefield, according to intelligence reports and sources who know him well. After fighting with the Casamance separatist movement in Senegal in the 1970s, Bah trained in Libya under the protection of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

"Like bin Laden, Bah spent several years in the early 1980s fighting alongside Muslim guerrillas against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

"Bah then joined the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia to fight Israeli forces in southern Lebanon before returning to Libya at the end of the 1980s. In Libya, Bah met and trained several men who would go on to lead rebellions in West Africa, including Charles Taylor of Liberia and Foday Sankoh of Sierra Leone, the RUF's founder. Bah himself later fought in both Liberia and Sierra Leone."

But in its usual denial, the government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Information, said in a statement: "The Liberian government views these claims as part of an organised smear campaign intended to discredit this administration and bring it to international disrepute."

The statement continued, "The Liberian government is not aware of the presence of any operative of al-Qaeda in Liberia and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism."

Such a statement is not only evasive but rather an attempt to engage in deception as Taylor and his government have always done. This time, it is appropriate to say: "You can fool some people, some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people, all of the time".

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