Former RUF Commander Karmoh Kanneh Testifies Concerning RUF Strategy Meeting and Taylor’s “Morale Booster” to RUF Fighters

The Hague

May 9, 2008

Prosecutor Julia Baly continued her direct examination of former RUF commander Karmoh Kanneh. Kanneh testified about a meeting in 1998 during which senior RUF commanders discussed attacks in Sierra Leone and how to address an RUF commander’s disloyalty and failure to obey RUF orders. Kanneh also testified regarding his involvement in the procurement of arms and ammunition from Liberia.

Kanneh’s meeting with RUF officials to discuss attacks on Kono, Makeni, and Freetown, as well as SAJ Musa’s disloyalty

Kanneh began his testimony today by answering Prosecutor Julia Baly’s questions regarding a 1998 meeting of senior RUF commanders, including Sam Bockarie, Issa Sesay, Eddie Kanneh, Morris Kallon, Daniel Tamba (aka “Jungle”), Matthew Barbor, Junior Vandi, Major Francis (who trained with Foday Sankoh in Libya), Gbessay Gbobah (“Chucky”), and Karmoh Kanneh himself.  During the meeting, the group discussed attacks to “clear” the area from Kono to Makeni to Freetown to free Foday Sankoh and overthrow President Kabbah.  Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Dennis Mingo (aka “Superman”) were to lead the attacks on Kono and Makeni.  According to Kanneh, Sam Bockarie and Jungle came to the meeting with materiel for the mission and instructions from Charles Taylor that Kono should be the first target of the attack. At the end of the meeting, Sam Bockarie and Jungle allegedly spoke on a satellite telephone to Charles Taylor while the other attendees were present.

During this meeting, the senior RUF commanders also discussed the disloyalty of SAJ Musa, an RUF commander, who rejected orders from Sam Bockarie with regard to the taking of Kono.  Kanneh testified that Sam Bockarie and SAJ Musa had previously argued because SAJ Musa refused Sam Bockarie’s orders.  Sam Bockarie told the RUF commanders at the meeting that he had lodged a complaint against SAJ Musa to Charles Taylor for not taking orders and for disloyalty.  During the meeting, Sam Bockarie made clear that SAJ Musa “should not live to tell the story.”  According to Kanneh, Sam Bockarie said that SAJ Musa should die during battle.

Kanneh’s involvement in procuring arms and ammunition for the RUF

Kanneh testified that he was involved in three attempts to obtain arms from Liberia for the RUF.  On the first occasion, shortly after the ECOMOG intervention in 1998, Kanneh joined Sam Bockarie to travel to Foya to receive arms and ammunition.  According to Kanneh, the arms and ammunition arrived in a military helicopter from Monrovia, and Benjamin Yeaten was in the helicopter.  Kanneh testified that Sam Bockarie said the materials came from Charles Taylor and that they included 40 boxes of AK rounds, 10 boxes of RPG rockets, RPG tubes, and AK 47s.

On the second occasion, Kanneh obtained arms for the RUF when LURD and ULIMO forces invaded Lofa County in 1998.  Sam Bockarie called Kanneh and told him that Charles Taylor had informed Sam Bockarie of the LURD invasion.  Sam Bockarie told Kanneh that they were to help “clear” the area.  Sam Bockarie and Kanneh successfully attacked the LURD forces in Foya and followed them to Kolahun and Voinjama.  Once they captured Voinjama, the RUF forces followed the LURD troops – upon orders of Benjamin Yeaten – to Guinea and captured and bombed the LURD troops in Guinea.

Kanneh, Sam Bockarie, and Benjamin Yeaten traveled to Monrovia to see Charles Taylor following the successful attacks against LURD forces in Lofa County in 1998.  Bockarie told Kanneh that Taylor invited them to Monrovia to receive a “morale booster”.  When they arrived, they were taken to Benjamin Yeaten’s residence, White Flower, which was located near Charles Taylor’s presidential mansion.  Kanneh testified that during his three days in Monrovia, Sam Bockarie and Benjamin Yeaten would frequently go to Charles Taylor’s residence.  Sam Bockarie told Kanneh that Charles Taylor promised a “morale booster” and ammunition in return for successfully “clearing” the four targets in Lofa County.  Kanneh saw the ammunition stored near Benjamin Yeaten’s residence and watched Issa Sesay and others count the 10,000 US dollar “morale booster” when they returned to Foya.  Upon their return, the 10,000 US dollar was used to buy medicine for wounded soldiers.

On the third occasion, Kanneh received arms for the RUF when the LURD forces returned to Voinjama under the direction of Sekou Damate Conneh in 2000.  Kanneh traveled to Kolahun where he received ammunition, and RUF troops successfully expelled LURD forces to the Guinean border.  At this point, according to Kanneh, Benjamin Yeaten gave orders over his radio to patrol the border and return to Voinjama, where Benjamin Yeaten was stationed.  Kanneh testified that following the successful attack he traveled with Benjamin Yeaten to Monrovia, where they were met by Issa Sesay and later Sam Bockarie.  According to Kanneh, Benjamin Yeaten and Issa Sesay frequently met with Charles Taylor during the short trip.  Kanneh toured the presidential mansion but never met Charles Taylor.

The Prosecution’s direct examination of Karmoh Kanneh will continue on Monday at 9:30 a.m.