Court has resumed, and the witness, Varmuyan Sherif, is continuing his story in response to questions from Prosecutor Brenda Hollis:
From Koidu we went to Voinjama. We went to my house there. Bockarie said he wanted a bath and a haircut. He took off his jacket to take his bath at the back of the house. He and I were there, and one of my aides, called Master General. While taking his jacket off, I saw a mayonaise jar in his pocket that was filled with diamonds. One of my men said to me, “oh, we can take these diamonds and leave to another country”. Later the assistant director for intelligence, Robert Biah, “58”, came to see me, he said Taylor had sent him to confirm that we had the true Sam Bockarie. When Bockarie emerged from the bathroom, the man confirmed from a picture that it was Bockarie. We traveled back through Zorzor (witness describes route). We reached Waisue, a village near Gbarnga. I met my boss coming from Monrovia, Benjamin Yeaten, who was with Musa Cisse. He thanked me and said he would take Bockarie alone to Monrovia. They told me that ECOMOG had a checkpoint at 15 gate and another one. They said they would use another route to bypass 15 gate and get to Roberts Field road, and take Roberts Field road to Monrovia. They said to take Bockarie’s men to my house in Monrovia. The next day Bockarie came in Taylor’s escort jeep and talked with his men. He took a radio to communicate with Kono and Tongo. He was speaking Mende, and I speak Mende. He told them “You men in Tongo and Kono should be alert, SLA soldiers are coming. Johnny Paul Koroma is missing in action, and you should be alert to receive him.” Johnny Paul Koroma was the leader of the AFRC, which had overthrown Tejan Kabbah.
Bockarie left my house. The next day, Taylor sent my deputy to call me to White Flower, the residence of Mr. Taylor. Musa Cisse was there, and my deputy was present. Taylor was very happy with me. He gave me some money. He asked me if I knew where Yeaten and Musa Cisse took Sam Bockarie from you, from your vehicle. Just drive back there. If you don’t see them there, just wait a bit.” I went back to the house and took Bockaries men and vehicle and drove to Waisu. Bockarie came ten minutes later. We drove together. Bockarie thanked me for taking him to see Taylor. He said he had started small, and until then he’d only communicated with Taylor by radio, and he was very happy to meet Taylor. He said Taylor had given him a satellite phone and money. He showed me the money. I can’t tell how much it was, but it was US dollars. The money Taylor had given me at White Flower was also in US dollars.
I drove back to Voinjama, to Kolahun, to Foya, then to the Mendekoma border. There I stopped and returned to Monrovia. Taylor called me. He instructed me that I should no longer bring arms and ammunition to Monrovia, but take them all to Sam Bockarie instead. At that time I only had one more load to get. Taylor also said I should go to Lofa and tell people to allow the RUF to transit Lofa. People in Lofa should feel free to provide arms and ammunition to the RUF. When I went back to Lofa – Voinjama and Foya – and I told the men that if anyone wanted to do business with the RUF and sell weapons, they were free, and that the RUF should have free access to Lofa. Both sides of the border were now open to the RUF.
The fourth load of ammunition and arms was taken to Sam Bockarie. I was supposed to meet him in Beudu. I was lucky to meet him in Foya, and I told him we should go to the border together so that I could give him the arms and ammunition. There I handed him the arms and ammunition. We snapped some photos.
The prosecution is now showing photographs to the court. The witness is being shown original copies. He identifies the first photo: myself, driver assigned to me from the NPFL, Montomery’s bodyguard, and two other bodyguards. He says the load in the pickup truck is full of arms and ammunition. The photo was taken at Mendekoma at the border between Liberia and Sierra Leone. Second photo is now shown, and the witness discusses it: picture shows myself in the SSS uniform provided by Taylor, my bodyguard, one of the officers, Master General. This picture was taken in Foya. When we went to the border I had to change into other clothes. At Foya I had to change back into my uniform to travel back to Monrovia. This uniform is black – for special operations.
After I took the arms and ammunition to the border, I turned it over to Sam Bockarie. The vehicle was full, but I don’t know the exact quantity. AK-47 rounds, RPGs and some other guns. I did not provide him with anything else.
The next day, back in Monrovia, Taylor called me back to White Flower. He said I should look for one of the most senior officers of ULIMO-K, to work alongside Sam Bockarie in Sierra Leone The former ULIMO-K fighters would now feel free to go to RUF territory. The RUF was recruiting, and this would encourage ULIMO-K fighters to join Bockarie in Sierra Leone. I contacted Abu Keita, the deputy chief of staff of ULIMO-K. His rank was major-general, one of the most senior officers. He told me he was suspicious about going because the RUF had been fighting against him, and he didn’t know if his life would be secure.
After this, in September, fighting broke out when Roosevelt Johnson went for a medical check-up outside the country. When he came back, immigration officials could not identify through which border he returned. Taylor was nervous and summoned Johnson. Johnson refused and Taylor ordered his arrest. Fighting broke out at Camp Johnson Road in Monrovia.
After this, Abu Keita accepted the offer. Musa Cisse contacted me and said I should take Abu Keita to Benjamin Yeatens house because Sam Bockarie was there waiting for him. Yeaten’s house was located just behind Taylor’s house – White Flower – it was the very next house. I took Abu Keita there. They were in a meeting. I saw Joe Tuah, Dopoe Menkerzon, Sekou, and Benjamin Yeaten. Dopoe Menkerzon was one of Taylor’s four-star generals. Sekou was supposed to be used as a rebel leader for Guinea. They were discussing how to carry out various attacks. Sekou was there for Guinea plans. Yeaten instructed Bockarie to open an RUF attack Guinea from the Sierra Leonean side. I was only there for five minutes because the meeting was not for me. I saw Abu Keita again later when LURD attacked Lofa County. When he came, he wrote a letter that the RUF was sending units to assist the Liberian government in protecting Foya.
Prosecution is showing a document called “operation order” to the court. The witness is asked about a person mentioned in the document. Mark Gwon was one of the junior commanders in the NPFL – in fighting against LURD he had a role. Another individual referenced is that of Abu Keita, head of the “Scorpion Unit”. Mark Gwon was a Brigadier General. The witness identifies one of two signatures at the bottom of the order: says the last one is Benjamin Yeaten’s signature.
After my mission to the border with the ammunition, I was still on temporary assignment to Lofa County. I sent one of my bodyguards, Sidiki Konneh (ph), to Beudu for information on whether the former ULIMO-K officers who had joined the RUF were faring – whether they were treated well or poorly. He was there for one month. When he got back, he reported that a truckload of arms and ammunition had come from Liberia to Sam Bockarie. He said he had seen a lot of looted goods – property from generators and other looted goods from Freetown. I went to Foya to assess what was happening there. I was supposed to make sure the RUF was moving freely, and that former fighers of the ULIMO-K who wanted to join the RUF could move freely. I saw Yeaten and Bockarie together there. I saw Zigzag Mazar (ph) who told me he had arms and ammunition in a vehicle, from Mr. Taylor, to take to Bockarie. I saw the vehicle – a Landcruiser with a pickup bed. It was full of arms and ammunition.
Pros: What other individuals were involved in providing arms and ammunition to the RUF?
Wit: I met with Jungle, who was Yeaten’s bodyguard. I saw Zigzag Mazar (ph) with weapons. Yeaten was based in Foya until 2003. My temporary assignment ended in 1999. In January 1999 we heard that Freetown was attacked. My mission ended before the attack on Freetown. During the attack on Freetown, we heard Bockarie talking on BBC radio. He said he would not retreat unless his father asked him to retreat. They asked him who he meant by “father”. Bockarie said Taylor. Taylor’s bodyguards were all annoyed because he had mentioned Taylor.
I saw Bockarie in Monrovia more than two times again. I saw him Martina Johnson’s house. Martina Johnson was the artillery chief of staff in the NPFL. When I saw her at the house, she was security director at Roberts Field International Airport. She was in charge of controlling people coming and going. The airport is far from the city of Monrovia, in Margibi County. I didn’t talk much with Bockarie at Martina Johnson’s house. I saw him again at Robert Field International Airport. We were instructed by Taylor that there were arms and ammunition coming. Paul Molibah, the police director went with me to the airport. I saw Joe Tuah, Musa Cisse and Sam Bockarie. They were in Martina Johnson’s restaurant at the back of the airport. I heard them discussing who would get what. I heard Molibah say nobody gets anything until we take it all to White Flower first. We drove behind Molibah back to White Flower.
At White Flower, Musa Cisse told me he also went to Burkina Faso to get arms and ammunition to bring to White Flower. Mr. Taylor had total control over White Flower. He would tell his attendants to give a certain amount to people. Then they would open the warehouse to pass out the weapons. I don’t remember the attendants’ names, but I know them all. The meeting with Bockarie at Roberts International Airport was after the meeting at Martina Johnson’s house. This was all before I heard Bockarie on BBC Radio – before the attack on Freetown.
In 1999 there was fighting in Liberia. LURD attacked from Guinea, through Sierra Leone into Liberia. This is a pivotal area. They came from Gueckedou (Guinea), over the river between Guinea and Sierra Leone. For people watching the movements in Liberia, it appeared the forces were coming from Sierra Leone. A second attack came from Gueckedou, between Foya and Kolahun. A third attack came from Masanta (ph), Guinea to attack Voinjama. President Taylor decided to mobilize the same militia group, marine division, strike force, artillery division, army division, “Wild Geese”, the Anti-Terrorist Unit, and also the RUF was invited to assist.
In mid-1999 I traveled with Taylor to an ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) meeting in Lome, Togo. All 15 member states were there. Kabbah was there and accused the AFRC/RUF of amputating innocent peoples’ limbs. He introduced a small girl, 2-4 years old, and showed her that her limbs had been amputated. The prosecution is now showing a photo to the court and the witness. The witness identifies a photo of Kabbah with the girl. The witness’s signature is on the photograph.
Pros: Earlier you testified that you were with the SSS until approx. the end of 1999. Then you were deputy chief of staff of the army division?
Wit: I was deputy chief of staff, Army Division from 2001 until the end of 2002. I was acting as chief of staff when my boss was wounded. When he died, I became chief of staff. I was responsible for army division recruitment, fighting at the battle front, to protect life and property. In 2001 and 2002 the Army Division operated in Tubmanburg, Grand Cape Mount, and Gbarpolu Counties. My base was Tubmanburg, also known as Bomi. When I was deputy, the chief of staff was “Red Devil”.
There were also militias, meaning civilians turned into armed men with only 1-2 days of training. All of the division chiefs of staff were required to recruit their own militias. Some were under age, women, some 12 years old. The Navy was responsible for the Freeport. The Navy Commander was director of the Freeport. He was also commander in Foya. This person was Roland Duo. The Freeport is located in Monrovia. He was also security director at the OTC. Roland Duo had been one of the junior commandos in the NPFL. Junior commandos were trained in Liberia. People trained in Libya were called “special forces”. The full name of Navy is “Navy Division”. It also operated in Lofa, and was based in Foya. Roland Duo was headquartered in Foya; he also operated in Buchanan (Grand Bassa County) and Monrovia. The commander of the Marine Division was Fassu. In 2001-2002 the marine division was operating in Voinjama. It had a mandate to operate inside and outside, to attack Guinea and defend Voinjama. Artillery Division was based in Gbarnga. In 2001-2002, Tamba was its commander. “Wild Geese” was a terrorist unit, a stand-by unit like the Anti-Terrorist Unit. I’ve forgotten the commander’s name. Its headquarters was in Gbarnga. The Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) was trained in Batala. Chuckie Taylor, the first son of Charles Taylor, was its commander. The ATU was created in the beginning of 2000. Chuckie Taylor created the ATU; its mission was to secure the president’s movements. They were responsible for the movements of VIPs. President Taylor paid them from his own pocket. The ATU were mercenaries – foreign troops. There were RUF people in it, Ivorians (from Ivory Coast), Gambians, Burkinabes (people from Burkina Faso) and others. They operated directly under the Executive and could only operate under the instructions of President Taylor, Chuckie Taylor, or Benjamin Yeaten. Under the Constitution of Liberia, foreigners could not be recruited into the Liberian army or police, including the SSS. ATU acted outside of this. Mr. Taylor paid them directly, not from government money. Sam Bockarie brought over 350 RUF soldiers to join the Anti-Terrorist Unit. There had been a problem within the RUF between Sam Bockarie and Issa Sesay. Sesay was Bockarie’s second-in-command. Taylor invited Bockarie and Sesay to Monrovia to settle their dispute. They were given a nice, furnished house near the Nigerian embassy for the RUF to use. Sesay was made commander of the RUF.
The witness says he has a bad headache and needs to rest. The court is adjourning until tomorrow morning at 9:00.