Radio operator links RUF commanders to Charles Taylor

12:00 (12:30 with the delay in video and audio): Court is back in session following the mid-morning break.

Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura continues the direct examination of the protected witness:

Pros: Before we continue, I wish to take you back briefly to clarify a few things. Earlier you mentioned that during your training at Kailahun, at the National Secondary School, you mentioned there were SBU and SGU groups. And you gave an age range of 1-20 years for each?

Wit: Below 20 years, boys were put in a unit called SBU. And below 20 years, girls were put in the SGU.

Pros: What was the youngest age you saw?

Wit: There were boys as young as 10 or 12, and girls who were 15, 16. I was 17 at the time.

Pros: You said you were told about Special Forces by Zino. At what point was that?

Wit: When we were traveling to the frontline after training, we met him at Pendembu. He addressed us at a muster parade. We were going to Baima, where I was shot.

Pros: This Mohamed Terawally, you mentioned that Sankoh left him in charge when he went to Yamoussoukro. Is that the same person?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Regarding your notebook, you said it is not the original you had, but had been reproduced from the original?

Wit: Yes, it’s a replica of what I copied myself. A girl called Rebecca copied it because the original was worn out.

Pros: You said it was taken from you by a sergeant?

Wit: Yes, he had wanted to copy some parts of the communication we had in there. The notebook was a sort of rough workbook. Sometimes that book was used to do some rough book. When you receive a message, you first write it in an exercise book, then transpose it.

Pros: Who was the sergeant?

Wit: Zedman. He asked if I had any notebook with me, and I said yes. He asked for the materials.

Pros: When was this?

Wit: 2005 or 2006.

Pros: You said you were first trained at Kangary Hills. Who was your instructor?

Wit: Captain Nya. Then at Zagoda I was trained by Foday Sankoh himself and ___, a retired SLA man.

Pros: Who placed the restrictions on your talking with the other side?

Wit: Corporal Sankoh himself. And it was enforced by the station sergeant.

Pros: Were you the only one with that restriction?

Wit: No, all junior operators.

Pros: Was there a restriction on a particular set of persons?

Wit: Only junior operators were not allowed to communicate with stations on the other side.

Pros: I was asking about the radio call signs that Bockarie had at Beudu, and you mentioned it changed from BZ4 to Marvel and Planet One. Do you know how the vehicles came to Sierra Leone?

Wit: They were looted at Voinjama and brought to Sierra Leone.

[brief interruption in video/audio]

Wit: …we were kept in touch with whatever development they had on that mission.

Pros: And what did you learn from them?

Wit: They made a comprehensive report of the mission, including about the capture of those vehicles. I was in Pendembu, and coming back I met those vehicles on the ground, where Sam Bockarie was resident.

Pros: You were told at training that Foday Sankoh was the RUF leader and was in Liberia?

Wit: Yes, and then he came to address the recruits.

Pros: You said he left for a conference?

Wit: Yes, in 1996. Mohamed Terawally (“Zino”) was put in place. While retreating from Zagoda, Zino went at large and from that time I don’t know his whereabouts.

Pros: Who took control of the RUF in the absence of Sankoh?

Wit: Yes, Sam Bockarie. I was in the jungle, maneuvering from Zagoda. By the time I got to Giema, he was in control. I think it was until late 1999 when there was an argument with the leadership and he crossed into Liberia. Issa Sesay took his position then. Sesay stayed in power until disarmament sometime in 2000-2001.

Pros: You mentioned that when you retreated from Kono after the intervention, along with Gullit, you got to Beudu and Bockarie was there. He had just been promoted. Apart from Bockarie, do you recall any other promotions?

Wit: Yes, Issa Sesay was promoted by his chief, Charles Taylor.

Pros: Did anyone else use this title, chief, for Charles Taylor?

Wit: It was common knowledge in the RUF?

Wit: Sesay was promoted to General in 2000 when I was in Kolahun working for Benjamin Yeaten. Sesay came to Kolahun and he addressed a muster parade at the estate. He was wearing the same military fatigues of the ATU. He was wearing the same insignia as Bockarie. There were a number of RUF fighters assigned to Kolahun at this time, to Yeaten.

Pros: How many were at this muster parade? 50?

Wit: Maybe more than that. The number was big. At the time, LURD forces were occupying Voinjama.

Pros: After the intervention in Freetown, you said Bockarie moved from Kenema to Beudu. Did others come?

Wit: Yes, Gullit, Johnny Paul Koroma, Thomas Kaloga, Eddie Kanneh, [others]. They were the junta forces of the Sierra Leone Army. Kaloga and Gullit traveled together from Kono. Eddie Kanneh came with Bockarie from Kenema. Johnny Paul Koroma came with Issa Sesay from Freetown, Makeni, Kono, to Kailahun.

Pros: Did Koroma stay in Beudu?

Wit: He stayed for some time. He had some misunderstandings with Bockarie. His property – diamonds and money – was taken from him by Bockarie and Sesay, according to rumor. It was even alleged that his wife was raped. There was an exchange of gunfire in that exchange.

Pros: Did Koroma address any meeting in Beudu?

Wit: It was not at the time the items were taken from him. He was posted in Kangama. From there he was called upon to address a forum of AFRC/RUF officers in the field, over the radio. Koroma said they should all work as a team. A response came from Saj Musa, saying he would never take instructions from a rebel, meaning Sam Bockarie. At the time, Saj Musa was in the jungle in the northern part of Sierra Leone. Gullit was somewhere around Makeni. Superman was around Kabala.

Pros: Following this forum, was there compliance with the orders of Koroma?

Wit: There was a free flow of communication between Gullit and Sam Bockarie, and that really improved after the death of Saj Musa.

Pros: How did the RUF radio network operate?

Wit: On a 7 megahertz. Frequency is the number of selected figures. If it begins with 7, then we say we’re operating on 7 megahertz. On the same frequency there are different bands. There’s LSB and USB. USB is upper side band, and LSB is lower side band. We were on 7 megahertz and the Liberians were on 6 megahertz, but there were certain stations which had our code. Base 1 in Congo Town, at Yeaten’s residence had our code. The operators were “Sunlight” and “Dew”. They were code names and I only knew them by those code-names. Base 1 was the call sign of that radio. That radio had access to the RUF code. The other station 020 at the Executive Mansion, operated by “Sky One” also had our codes.

Pros: To your knowledge, who did the operators Sunlight and Dew for Base 1 report to?

Wit: To Benjamin Yeaten, Unit Fifty.

Pros: Why was he called Unit Fifty?

Wit: That was his code name.

Pros: “020” was at the Executive Mansion?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Who did the operator report to?

Wit: To the president, Charles Taylor.

Pros: You say these radios had the code for the RUF network. How do you know this?

Wit: When I was in Liberia, a number of times I received messages in our code.

Pros: Let’s focus on communication within the RUF in Sierra Leone. You said they communicated on 7 megahertz. How many radios did the RUF have at any given time?

Wit: When the AFRC took power and called upon the RUF, the number of radio stations multiplied. There were 45 or more stations.

Pros: How was the system controlled?

Wit: By the station for the senior-most commander. That was the control station. The other stations were sub-stations. We had a particular frequency referred to as the national frequency. You make a call on that frequency, then select another frequency. We had a pre-designated frequency, with a code name assigned to it. In the code chart we had representations for all the numbers. The national frequency at one point was 70110 on LSB. People would move to other frequencies to keep that frequency free for others.

Pros: Can you explain pre-designated frequencies?

Wit: They had been agreed upon and given code names. They were already in the code chart. We were using 70110 at one point for the national frequency. When it changed, that frequency got the name “old farm”, and people could refer it to that way to free up the new national frequency. The frequencies were selected by the commanders. The frequencies and their names changed.

Pros: Did you have a chance to demonstrate this to prosecutors?

Wti: Yes.

Pros: Did you produce any material for that purpose?

Wit: Yes, I was given a plain paper to explain what I meant.

Pros: Describe the code chart.

Wit: There were representations for military terms and [other things]. The signal commander produced it. The sub-stations received new code charts by coming to collect them when there were changes.

Pros: The commanders would be called to report to the control station – in person?

Wit: You must be there in person. Code is very secretive – it wasn’t put on the air. You come to the control station and they explain it to you. Then you’re authorized to go back to your station. That was the only means through which the codes were distributed.

Pros: You said if there was a change of code, this is what would happen. What were the reasons for a change of code?

Wit: If there was an attack in a particular area and an operator is unable to take the materials – or if an operator is captured or killed on the front lines, the code would then be changed.

[Prosecution refers to a hand-written note, shows it to the court and defense.]

Judge Doherty: Has this been disclosed to the defense?

Pros: Yes.

Def: We have it. Five pages?

Pros: Four, actually…. I request to move on to other material and come back to this once we’ve made copies.

Judge Doherty: Very well.

Pros: [refers witness to a different document, a code book for the RUF radio network]

Def: I don’t believe there is any information about this document on the record.

Pros: The witness has focused on how code charts are created and used. This document is a code book that the RUF used.

Judge Sebutinde: Has there been evidence that the RUF used codes in a book? Otherwise what you’re doing is leading the witness.

Pros: You indicated that there was a code chart used by the RUF?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: And that this was created by the commander of the information unit. When the charts were changed, what happened in the old ones?

Wit: They were kept, but were never to be used.

Pros: If an operator attempted to use an old chart, was there any consequence?

Wit: It was a breach of security and he was charged.

Pros: Was it the commander who alone compiled the charts?

Wit: Others assisted.

Pros: What would be in the chart?

Wit: Phrases of military terminology: “attack”, “weapon”, “ambush”, “AK-47”, etc.

Pros: Once these were handed back to the senior commanders, do you know what happened to them?

Wit: You would just keep the old codes and another would be given to you.

Pros: Have you seen any of these recently?

Wit: I was asked to identify one when I came to the court. I saw some names of senior officers in the RUF.

Pros: [asks that witness be shown the document] Do you recognize this book?

Wit: Yes, it’s a code book produced during the time of Gen. Issa.

Pros: How do you know?

Wit: It’s during the time he was promoted to General, and his code for that is here. [States numerical code for this, refers to line in the document.]

Pros: On this page, we have names on one side?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: And letter for each?

Wit: Yes, those are representations for this name. These are the letters that are transmitted. The receiving operator then transcribes it. If I want to use this code to call Sam Bockarie, I write “Yankee Romeo Whiskey” to be transmitted.

Pros: The book is divided into parts?

Wit: Yes, to help the recipient process information faster. I have to note the part of the code I’m using. Part 1 is the alphabet. Part 2 is a code word. In addition, if I have received a message, using this code that message will be transcribed and can be replicated any time I want to.

Pros: Going back to the page where you identified the name of Gen. Sesay, that is 00100108. There is a list of names starting on that page and running almost to the end of the book, correct?

Wit: yes.

Pros: Do you recognize them, generally?

Wit: They were top RUF commanders.

Pros: The first name there is C/man?

Wit: That’s the chairman, Foday Sankoh.

Pros: The next after Sesay?

Wit: Morris Kallon. In the code that’s “Yankee Romeo Victor”. The sender would say to go to part 4, and say “Yankee Romeo Victor”. You go to part four and look up “Morris Kallon”.

[At prosecution request, the court marks the book for identification.]

Pros: In the normal flow of communications within the RUF at the time you were in Beudu, before going to Liberia, when you communicated, what would be the normal procedure on an everyday basis?

Wit: In the morning you establish communication and keep records of all communications received from stations in the distance. We had a stipulated time for establishment of communications, which was 7:30. All stations were obliged to be on the air then. The control station established a net call, and all stations in the distance would respond in regard to their seniority.

Pros: 7:30 at what time of day?

Wit: 7:30 AM.

Pros: What was the nature of the communications?

Wit: We had a sitrep – a message from the sub-station to the control station. We had instructions, directives and orders from the control station. Commanders were to report for briefings. There were instructions for strategy on how to maneuver – moving from one point to another to capture other areas.

Pros: What system was in place for the sub-stations?

Wit: The signal unit. We had an overall commander. Then we had a regional commander. Then there was an area commander. And then there was a station commander. At each station the operator was answerable to the station commander, who answered to the area commander, who answered to the regional commander, who answered to the overall commander?

Pros: Did the operators engage in combat?

Wit: No, each station was guarded by about 15 armed men. The operator was told he would be killed if the radio were captured by the enemy. [Witness describes the procedure for bringing messages to combat commanders.] Some commanders had adjutants and others didn’t. The operator was used as an adjutant to draft messages. In the control station we had two books: outgoing and an incoming or sitrep book. The received messages were in code. They were first written in an exercise book, then transcribed into the forms. Some messages were left in the exercise books because some operators were not efficient. They left them there in case there were questions about the message. The message taken to the commander was handwritten in words.

Pros: When a commander has a message to transmit, what happens?

Wit: The commander gives it to the adjutant, who writes it and takes it to the station, where it is put in code and transmitted.

Pros: Would other persons not involved in the communication also be privy to the communication?

Wit: Yes, if they are on the same frequency. That’s why we used code.

Pros: What would happen in a situation where two persons are communicated and you were not a party to the call?

Wit: You monitored that message. It was important to take all messages on the air. If you don’t receive that message, you may not know what was happening.

Pros: You said first contact was made on the national frequency, then the parties agreed on another frequency. You explained pre-determined frequencies. Could they also go to other frequencies?

Wit: Yes, using code you could agree on any frequency.

Pros: You mentioned that the frequencies used by the RUF were available to certain radio stations in Liberia?

Wit: Yes, we were on the same net.

Pros: Was it the same in RUF. Could you monitor what was happening on the other side?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Could you name again the stations on this net?

Wit: Base 1, 020, and Foxtrot Yankee, and the station I was operating in the jungle with Yeaten, “7-2”, a mobile radio set, 072.

Pros: For the moment, let’s focus on the time before you went to Liberia. Which radios were on the same network as the RUF?

Wit: The same: Base 1, 020, and Foxtrot Yankee.

Pros: On the SL side, who could communicate with those?

Wit: Marvel and Planet One, controlled by Sam Bockarie. Those stations as well could call us. We were called sometimes to tell Log – Bockarie, saying to put him on the phone. They would call from Base 1 or 020 to say the principal on this side wants to talk to the principal there.

Pros: Did the RUF use other means of communications?

Wit: Bockarie brought a mobile satellite phone and said it had been given to him by his chief, Charles Taylor. I first saw him with it in Kenema in 1997, during the AFRC junta.

Judge Sebutinde: The witness said that both Sierra Leone and Liberia were on the same net. Also sharing the same code?

Wit: Yes, at some point in time we had the same code. They had our code.

Pros: How were these codes shared?

Wit: I gave it to Sunlight and Sky One once myself when I went to Liberia.

Pros: But there were communications before that?

Wit: Yes, Daf – Alfred Fonni – knew the codes before then. A radio operator who worked for Bockarie, Sillay Duowr was called to talk to his brothers in a dialect nobody understood to give the codes. He was then killed in Foya. When ULIMO cut the link between the RUF and NPFL, Duowr and Jungle crossed into Sierra Leone and stayed with Sam Bockarie.

Pros: Who assigned Duowr?

Wit: The RUF and NPFL had the same chain of command.

Pros: Are you able to say who assigned him?

Wit: Jungle was superior to him, and ordered him to stay with Bockarie.

Pros: Who was Jungle?

Wit: Daniel Tamba.

Pros: And Sillay Duowr used to serve Jungle?

Wit: Yes.

Pros: Which group did Jungle belong to?

Wit: The NPFL.

Pros: When did they move to Sierra Leone?

Wit: When disarmament started in Liberia. ULIMO-K fighters were then selling arms and ammunition to Sam Bockarie. An order came from one-one-x-ray

Pros: One-one-x-ray?

Wit: That was the call sign of Foday Sankoh in Abidjan.

Pros: Which group did Sillay Duowr belong to?

Wit: The NPFL.

Pros: Do you know how long he stayed with Bockarie?

Wit: From the coup until the Vulture operation. He killed himself in Voinjama.

Court is now adjourning for the lunch break. The proceedings will resume at 2:30 (3:00 with the video/audio delay.)