The Murder Of West Africa Most Feared Warlord Sam "Maskita" Bockarie : An Attempt To Distort Evidence And Obstruct International Justice
By Jangah V. Kanneh and Nhinson Williams
Researchers, Africa Analysis International, AAI
Africa Analysis International, AAI
BRIEFING NO. 0014
MAY 20, 2003
THE MURDER OF WEST AFRICA MOST FEARED WARLORD SAM "MASKITA" BOCKARIE : AN ATTEMPT TO DISTORT EVIDENCE AND OBSTRUCT INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE.
AAI has learned from credible inside sources, that warlord Sam "Makita" Bockarie was tortured to death, murdered on Wednesday night, May 7, 2003, behind the Executive Mansion in Monrovia, Liberia by a gang of the Liberian government military- security forces on the direct instructions of President Charles Taylor.
In fact, there are unconfirmed reports that Bockarie's closed aides, immediate family members and bodyguards who resided at his residence in Monrovia were summarily executed by Benjamin Yeaten's S.S.S. officers led by one Colonel Towah upon strict orders from the Liberian leader.
The primordial drive leading to the well planned and brutal pogrom of the Bockaries and their aides by Monrovia is aimed at distorting evidence, or reducing tangible proofs that could outrightly substantiate Charles Taylor's direct involvement in and support for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the West African state of Sierra Leone from 1991 2003.
Basic fact-finding data gathered by AAI researchers points to the fact that President Taylor and his regime top officials are afraid that Warlord Maskita Bockarie poses a very serious threat to his (Taylor) scheme of perpetually attempting to cover Monrovia's role played in the Sierra Leone's blood diamond deals with the Taliban and Al Qaeda's business proxies from Asia.
According to sources interviewed in Liberia and Sierra Leone, General Maskita Bockarie, his family, aides and bodyguards moved into Liberia on Taylor's request. Warlord Maskita Bockarie subsequently became a top officer in Taylor's military/security apparatus. He executed instructions from President Taylor in several illegal missions. Maskita played a leading role in the Taylor supported dissident/rebel attack on the Republic of Guinea in 2000; and the insurgency in western Ivory Coast in 2002; an attack which led to the formation of the MPICO rebel group in that country, Bockarie also assisted Taylor and his regime fight against the LURD operating in northwestern Liberia.
However, with all this Taylor and the Monrovia regime have been coming under vehement pressure for harboring Warlord Maskita Bockarie; and has received repeated calls to turn the fugitive over for prosecution by the United Nations' Special Court in Sierra Leone for the commission of crimes against humanity during that country decade of bloody civil war.
Another pressure that Taylor came under was his participation in the Ivorian war. His Lome's pact with Ivorian leader Gbatgbo forced him (Taylor) to reduce his influence in the Ivorian conflict. And the way he did it was to order Warlord Maskita to assassinate one of his (Taylor) stooges turned rebel faction leader for the MPICO rebels in Danane, western Ivory Coast.
General Maskita killed MPICO rebel leader, Felix Doe, on Taylor's order and was still operating in that area between the Liberian and Ivorian borders until Taylor requested that he came to Monrovia with an helicopter, which he did.
Upon his return to Monrovia, he had an arrangement put in place to meet President Taylor at the Mansion on Wednesday night for reassignment discussions.
There are unconfirmed reports gathered by AAI that the person murdered in Monrovia is faked and exchanged for Bockarie. That the entire process is deceptive and a make-belief meant to halt the international pressures on Monrovia relative to Maskita Bockarie's turnover to the United Nations' Special Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Meanwhile, apart from all this, President Taylor has every reason and strong one too, for wanting to kill General "Maskita" Bockarie. Monrovia believes that testimonies that could have emanated from warlord Maskita Bockarie if arrested and taken to the Special Court in Sierra Leone will not only solidify evidence already provided by leading RUF rebel figures such as Mike Lamin and Issa Seasay, but would reshape and give real urgency to Taylor's indictment from war crimes or crimes against humanity to the current existing international focus of terrorism and business connections with the Al Qaeda.
The rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) is an extension and affiliate of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia rebel group which was organized in the United States by prominent opposition Liberian politicians to the Doe regime at the time in cohort with some notorious criminals like Charles Taylor and Thomas Smith.
Prior to the organization of the NPFL by these exiled Liberian opposition in the 80s, Thomas Smith and Charles Taylor were already known criminals and fugitives in the United States.
Taylor was accused of stealing over half a million dollars from the inexperienced People's Redemption Council (PRC) regime that toppled the Tolbert government while Thomas Smith was believed to have been seriously associated with one of Liberia's notorious and organized crime facilitators, Chenoweth, in the 70s and 80s.
Thomas Smith said to be Senator Tom Woiwoyou , who is now a member of the Liberian National Legislature representing Grand Bassa County, was invited by a high profile Liberian politician to participate in the operational planning of the insurgency against the Doe government which was viewed by many in international circles as undemocratic and largely dictatorial.
Tom Woiwoyou (Thomas Smith) instead reminded the planners of the NPFL formation about Charles Taylor, his ability and will to conduct such enterprise to the letter as he is doing today in Liberia with mainly the civilians as his principal victims.
Upon this concise but cogent recommendation, the group influenced the illegal release of Taylor from prison in the US as well as facilitated his exit from the very US into Africa. Through them, Taylor was able to have contacts with Tripoli and Colonel Qaddafi in particular.
During that period, Libya too was desperately in search of allies in Africa, particularly West Africa. Many opposition politicians in West Africa were struggling for change. A Change for change sake as well as naked power.
Tripoli's disposition to fund, host and train coup plotters and dissidents subsequently became a major prey for poverty stricken and self-seeking West African politicians. Approaches from and consultation with a broad spectrum of opposition and aggrieved politicians and others from West Africa set the pace and formation for the West Africa Destabilization Plan.
Massive recruitment began from some states in West Africa; Tripoli had provided its Tajura Base as the training ground for the project which was to, and as it went, start with the destruction of Liberia.
Foday Sankoh and Sam Maskita Bockarie were recruited to lead the Sierra Leone dimension of the West Africa Destabilization Plan.
During and after all of the rudimentary and vigorous subversive activity oriented training, Tripoli had realized that there was the need to have some cooperating states in West Africa. There and then, President Thomas Sankara of Upper Volta then , now Burkina Faso was identified as the first prey of the plan. Sankara's foster brother and number two in his military regime, Captain Blaise Campaore , now president of Burkina Faso was immediately contacted and promised the leadership of the country should he agree to make Burkina Faso the cooperating state and provisional base for the plan.
In the words of Koikoi Samba commonly known as General Manning, who was the Gambian factor of the Libyan West Africa Destabilization Plan: "All of us took part in the coup plot that killed Thomas Sankara and brought Campaore to power. I mean for example, Prince Johnson, Taylor and others from Liberia, Foday Sankoh and Sam Maskita Bockarie from Sierra Leone, and many more".
The connecting Ivorian side to the enterprise was given much urgency and seriousness not simply because of the late Ivorian dictator, Felix Houphout Boigny, hatred for the then Liberian regime, but because of Monrovia and Ouagadougou's arrogance against the aged Ivorian leader at regional meetings. Ahlassane Drame Ouatarra was then the primier of the Ivory Coast.
So in an attempt to teach Monrovia and Ouagadougou lessons, Abidjan was obliged to submit and support the key operating actors of the plan to destabilize Liberia without understanding the intoto of the plot, its effects and duration.
The war started and raged for years in Liberia, destroying many lives and properties throughout the country. Foday Sankoh and Sam "Maskita" Bockarie were further instructed to organize and attack Sierra Leone from Taylor's NPFL rebels' controlled areas of Lofa County, northern Liberia.
The NPFL was ,henceforth, extended to Sierra Leone under the disguise of a name styled the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in 1991. The RUF attack on Sierra Leone marked the third phase of the Libyan supported sub regional insecurity plan for West Africa.
One needs to appreciate the various interests at play then. The opposition politicians wanted only power and control. The US did not appreciate President Doe and his regime in Liberia as well. Libya wanted and still wants control in West Africa at the disadvantage of Western interest. This was the common denomination for all. A very complex factor that has made the sub region to experience the current wave of instability, growing social problems, economic setbacks as well as refugee flow.
AAI has learned that what this formula spells out is that President Taylor has an apparent link to the RUF, its formation, utility process and value, and shortcomings. By and large its blood diamond dealings and the proceeds thereafter.
THE SIERRA LEONE SITUATION
The RUF attacked Sierra Leone from Lofa County, Liberia in 1991. Taylor self-imposed and appointed inner core within the NPFL called and styled Central Revolutionary Council (CRC) identified Sam Maskita Bockarie's ability to induce trauma and deep fear in civilians so they appointed him as the head of the RUF military command and second to Foday Sankoh, the RUF so-called national leader, now in prison for war crimes in Sierra Leone.
The members of the NPFL Central Revolutionary Council (CRC) included amongst others, Charles Taylor, Tom Woiwoyou (Thomas Smith), Sam Dokie, Momolu V. Sackor Sirleaf and Ernest Eastman.
This body was the heart of the movement in everything the movement stood for, did and aspired to. In order to shift the focus of and confuse the West African authorities on their position on Liberia, particularly the suffering of the civilian population during the war in the 90s, General Maskita Bockarie was ordered by Taylor to introduce inhumane treatment of civilians in Sierra Leone; amputating, burning alive, raping and torturing civilians indiscriminately.
Soon international focus was shifted from the Liberian conflict to that of Sierra Leone in view of the commission of the kind of atrocities committed against the innocent civilian population to include woman and children. Thus, the RUF was successful in waging both a psychological warfare and a real combat aggresion in the country.
TRADE ASPECT - BLOOD DIAMOND
Prior to the commencement of the blood diamond deal from Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor was by this time a known trader/businessman on the international market. He had controlled close to ninety percent of Liberia; looting and shipping many of Liberia's natural resources in exchange for arms, drugs and cash. Logs, iron ore, gold, diamonds, and rubber from Firestone's two major plantations were arbitrarily exploited in excess and exported abroad through illegal businesses and agents of black deals.
Elhadj Bah, a Gambian with Burkinabe nationality and known for die-hard illegal business transactions, was already dealing with several business ventures in West Africa, serving as a proxy for the Hezbollah Movement based in Lebanon and some other terror groups in Malaysia, Indonesia and Syria.
Eventually, resources from Liberia in the 90s were shipped to Asia and Europe. Financial returns from these sales added to what Tripoli provided as assistance to the NPFL/RUF network in furtherance of the West Africa sub region destabilization plan.
The trade links of the NPFL/RUF attracted other terror network groups in Asia and the Middle East. One of such groups was the Taliban leadership and the Al Qaeda international terrorism network which has interest in fast trade deals.
Al QAEDA CONNECTIONS
ELHADJ Bah became conduit between the NPFL/RUF and a lot of Asian and Middle East businessmen that included Taliban proxies. The first delegation of the Taliban business proxies visited Liberia in 1992. During that visit, Taylor had sent for Foday Sankoh and Sam Maskita Bockarie from Kailahun District in Sierra Leone to Voinjama, Lofa County, northern Liberia.
At this Voinjama meeting, Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie were offered two brief cases full of money. The money was initially meant to concretize the potential trade understanding, and serves as a demonstration of goodwill and commitment on the part of the investors from Asia.
The NPFL/RUF trade links and association in fund raising became widespread, serious, and grew when the regular flow of diamonds started from the rich diamond districts of Kono, Pujehun and Kailahun in Sierra Leone.
Taylor, Sankoh and Bockarie eventually extended their relationship at a different level, with Taylor being the central figure in terms of command and major decisions making.
Monrovia became the transit point and rally base for the Taliban/Al Qaeda-NPFL/RUF blood diamond trade which fueled the Sierra Leonean war as well as transformed the commission and level of atrocities commited to a degree quite strange to all civil wars in the world.
It is estimated that the Al Qalda's network and the Taliban regime generated several billions of dollars from the blood diamonds illegally mined and smuggled out of poverty stricken Sierra Leone. Just in 1998 alone, Charles Taylor's personal share in the blood diamond deal was estimated at US$380,000,000 dollars; this excluded what went to administrative cost, proxies and miscellaneous from his (Taylor) side of the diamond looting venture.
Considering that the RUF leader Foday Sankoh is insane, Sam Maskita Bockarie subsequently became the de facto powerful man and military boss of the movement. The buck returns from the diamond trade was only shared between Taylor and Bockarie, though Bockarie received less than one percent while in Liberia seeking refuge the Taylor way.
GEN. MASKITA UTILITY VALUE AFTER SIERRA LEONE'S WAR
After the disarmament process in Sierra Leone ended, Warlord Sam "Maskita" Bockarie had a very tangible utility value to Taylor. Consequently, he had to move into Liberia for continuation of his warlike activities.
Firstly, President Taylor felt harboring Bockarie would have provided him the opportunity of obstructing international justice and distorting credible and much needed evidence. The view here is that Taylor had thought that many would think that Sierra Leone could come under renewed fight should the international community and Sierra Leonean in general pursue the present course: "International War Crime Tribunal" for crimes committed in the country during the war.
Secondly, Taylor and Bockarie had a common agenda which fits into the existing West Africa Destabilization Plan. That both of them should continue to terrorize the West African sub region, and in addition consolidate Taylor's capacity to not only frighten but chase out all of his real and perceived opposition from Liberia. This he succeeded in doing somehow by coercion.
In this vein, General Maskita Bockarie's utility value to Taylor and the Monrovia regime was enhanced. He helped the Liberian regime in their attempt to fully contain the war in the northwest of the country against the LURD rebels for some time as well prolonged the MODEL attack on Liberia.
Bockarie also continued the sub regional destabilization plan on the instructions of Taylor by aiding and supervising an attack on the western part of Ivory Coast from south eastern Liberia.
That attack supervised by General Maskita led to the formation of the so-called MPICO rebel group in addition to the two rebel groups (MPCI and MJP) that were fighting the Ivorian regime through the very Taylor instrumentality in the northern region of the country bordering Burkina Faso.
As Taylor came under international and home-based pressure, coupled with the peace deal or bilateral security-support pact he reached with Ivorian president Gbatgbo in Lome, Togo, in April 2003, he decided to reduce his visible presence in the Ivorian war by requesting the so-called MPICO leader, Felix Doe, appointed by he (Taylor) to halt hostilities and redirect the mission to another countries in the sub region. Those country being Ghana and Togo.
Upon Felix Doe's vehement refusal of the new approach, Taylor instructed General Maskita Bockarie to disarm and kill the MPICO leader in Danane, which he did correctly.
With this action, Taylor's fulfillment of the Lome Pact with Gbatgbo is being actualized to some extent. Bockarie and a whole batch of NPFL/RUF bandits sent in western Ivory Coast were, therefore, furthered ordered by Monrovia to return to Liberia and contain the war in Nimba County between LURD rebels and Taylor's forces on one hand and between MODEL and Taylor's forces on the other hand.
Bockarie and others including NPFL general Zack returned to LAMCO Yekepa, Nimba County, Liberia where they joined other members of Taylor's forces for weeks prior to he (Bockarie) being ordered to report to Monrovia.
THE IMPACT OF INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE
As Taylor faced and continues to encounter international pressure and condemnation for his involvement in the Ivorian conflict, his harboring of war monger "Maskita" Bockarie, threats from the United Nations Special Court in Sierra Leone; his most known and influential associates in perons of John T. Richardson, Grace Minor as well as his principal errand guys like Lewis Brown, Reginald Goodridge amongst others projected analysis and deductions that concluded that the finest thing to do is to get rid of General Maskita from Liberia by asking him to leave in order to reduce the diplomatic and other pressure resulting from his presence in the country.
Taylor's own view to this proposal was different considering his dealings with the RUF and the role played by the General. Taylor believed that should the General leave Liberia or is arrested and cogent revelations are made on the entire Sierra Leone's conflict regarding his consistent involvement in the Al Qaeda and Taliban business deals in the blood diamond transaction, that will justify his instant fall.
With this, Monrovia believes direct American and British interest and concerns could be drawn in the equation, perhaps through concrete and urgent actions which the Liberian regime does not want or will not withstand.
One of such concerns that Taylor and his top regime officials do not want the West to conceive is the fact that prior to the September 11,2001 attack on the United States, Al Qaeda's network business proxies had raised over ninety percent of the funds that facilitated the Al Qalda's aggression through blood diamonds transactions on the international market.
In Taylor's camp it became very clear, at least to a lot of them, that if the US intelligence smells such information, it could incite direct aggression on Monrovia. In order to prevent all this, Sam Maskita Bockarie became the sole and uncompromising alternative for elimination. His murder became absolutely inevitable.
THE LAST MISSION
On Tuesday May 6, 2003, President Taylor himself sent an urgent ISB radio message to Maskita Bockarie in Yekepa instructing the general to report to Monrovia for reassignment.
That the reassignment could either be that he General Maskita rejoin Sierra Leone's fugitive Major John Paul Koroma in Foya near the Sierra Leonean frontier with Liberia to re- attack Sierra Leone , or help the Monrovia based of Taylor's forces to prevent or contain any potential attack on the city from LURD rebels who are some thirty miles away from the capital.
A Helicopter went for General Maskita Bockiarie and some of his bodyguards and brought them to Monrovia alive. They were seen in Monrovia at Snack Bar on Airfield shortcut, drinking and entertaining themselves on Tuesday evening, May 6, 2003.
Maskita Bockarie had a scheduled meeting with Taylor at the Executive Mansion on Wednesday night, May 7, 2003. It was during this appointment believed to be a set up that he (Bockarie) was arrested , tied and taken on the beach behind the Executive Mansion by one ATU colonel named Towah.
After the General was tortured to death, his family, aides and bodyguard were summarily executed on orders of President Taylor in order to prevent anyone of them getting out and presenting the true story to the media and the Special Court in Sierra Leone.
AAI states that at no time was Bockarie kill on the war front near the Ivorian borders with Liberia as alleged by Taylor and others in his principal antagonists. After Bockarie was tortured to death in the Mansion premises, Towah shot him in his abdomen (stomach) on the side.
The death of Warlord Maskita Bockarie institutes much wonders and requires too many conclusions. His murder remains an advantage to Taylor in some way but serves as a lost to the international community, Sierra Leoneans in general and West Africa to be specific.
Maskita Bockarie as dangerous and bad he was could have been vital in telling some basic truths about the cancer that Taylor has been spreading in the sub region and world at large through his business connections with the blood diamond deal and global terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda.
Let it be apparent that Maskita Bockarie's murder can in no way destroy vital evidence linking Taylor to the supra. Taylor must be fully accountable to the international community for his actions which have led to the death of thousands in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and even the United states. Taylor business support for the September 11, 2001 operations done through his blood diamond deals fund raising killed many Americans and other nationals during the terrorist attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade center in New York and Washington, DC.
Finally, as AAI conducted interviews with victims of Taylor who are alive and are dwelling as refugees and displaced people, they are asking and wondering on the difference between Taylor and people like Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Milosevic, and Osama bin Laden.
A number of refugee women interviewed in many refugee camps in West Africa told AAI that perhaps the Mano River basin in particular has nothing that attracts the interest of the West and the international community that is why Taylor is of no threat to American and British interest for now. They believe that had it been, the United States and Britain would since acted actively on Taylor as they have done in the case of other countries with which they have no long standing and historical relations as they do with Liberia.
The direct shortcoming in the international participation of the instability and insecurity in the Mano River basin is the lack of willingness on the part of the United States and its major Western allies to act morally and decisively in the interest of saving human life, mainly that of women and children at least.
This AAI seriously recommend to the international community, particularly the United States, Britain, France, the AU and ECOWAS, as the best way forward to ending the commission of human suffering in the West African sub region once and for all.
1. AAI interview with top Liberian officials in Monrovia
2. AAI interview with diplomats in Monrovia, Freetown and Abidjan
3. AAI interview with civilians in Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Freetown and Nigeria
4. AAI interview with a cross section of ex-combatants in the sub regional instability in the West Africa basin
Africa Analysis International, AAI, is a Research, Advocacy and Information Resource Group with focus on Africa. The group is supported by private donations from people of goodwill who have interest and are dedicated in making Africa a better place to live and work in the spirit of justice, freedom, peace, tranparency and development for all.