Taylor Did Not Support the RUF; Says Liberians Who Fought in Sierra Leone Were Recruited By The Sierra Leone Army

Charles Taylor has told the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges that he did not support the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Sierra Leone and that he was too busy with issues in Liberia, which could not have allowed him to pay attention to what was going on in Sierra Leone. Taylor, however, did admit that between August 1991 to May 1992, he had some relationship with the RUF but such relationship was purely to protect his forces against attacks from United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO) who were supported by the government of Sierra Leone.

On Monday July 20, 2009, Taylor told judges that “I had no knowlege in March 1991 of a group called  the RUF planning a war in Sierra Leone.” Taylor was referring to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a  Sierra Leonean rebel group that Taylor has has been accused of working with and controlling as it comitted crimes in Sierra Leone after 1996. The RUF and its then leader, Foday Sankoh, were not among those Taylor met while his troops were undergoing military training in Libya between 1987 and 1989, he said.  Foday Sankoh, Taylor told the court, had no credentials of a revolutionary and that he would not have supported Sankoh to wage a war against the then Sierra Leonean president Joseph S. Momoh, who he considered a friend.

Taylor, however, began working with the Sierra Leonean rebel group, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) between August 1991 and May 1992, after a Liberian armed group, ULIMO, started attacking his forces, he told the court on Tuesday.   The rival group, ULIMO, was supported by the Sierra Leonean government, Taylor said – but this did not mean he wanted to help the RUF rebel leader, Foday Sankoh, to attack Sierra Leone in the early 1990s.

“My relationship with Foday Sankoh was for security purposes to fight ULIMO in Sierra Leone so as to prevent fighting them in Liberia,” Taylor told judges on Tuesday while giving testimony in his own defense.

Taylor also denied allegations that he used children as NPFL combatants in Liberia. He explained that while many children were in NPFL controlled territory, “there was no official policy of the NPFL to recruit, train and arm children for combat.” He said that he even had one of the largest orphanages in Gbarngha during the war and that “whenever there is a crisis anywhere, you will always see soldiers moving around with children.”

Mr. Taylor told judges on Wednesday that when rebels attacked Sierra Leone in March 1991, he was busy holding discussions with West African leaders in Senegal geared towards the cessation of hostilities in Liberia and therefore could not have been planning an attack on Sierra Leone.

“At the time of the RUF invasion of Sierra Leone, I was busy with peace meetings but the prosecution has me busy planning and supporting the RUF in Sierra Leone,” Taylor told the judges.

Liberian nationals who fought in Sierra Leone during the civil conflict were recruited by the Sierra Leone army, Charles Taylor told judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone on Thursday.

Mr. Taylor, testifying in his own defense told the court that during the war in Liberia, many Liberians traveled to Sierra Leone  as refugees.  These Liberians, Taylor said, later became members of the rebel group ULIMO and were armed by the Sierra Leone army to attack Taylor’s forces in Liberia.  According to Taylor’s evidence, many of these armed Liberians later stayed in Sierra Leone and became known as the Special Task Force (STF).  Taylor’s defense presented evidence that these STF forces were armed by the Government of Sierra Leone and fought alongside the Sierra Leone army.

Taylor’s defense counsel Courtenay Griffiths read from the statement presented to the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission by former President Tejan Kabbah in which he said that the STF were remnants of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Liberian Police who traveled to Sierra Leone and became members of ULIMO.   President Kabbah’s statement further read that these fighters were received and armed by the then government of Joseph Momoh in Sierra Leone to go and attack Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL).  President Kabbah’s statement read that those who stayed in Sierra Leone were later renamed the STF and were almost incorporated into the Sierra Leone Army. When the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) coup took place in Sierra Leone, the STF joined them and were part of the fighters who attacked Freetown in January 1999.  President Kabbah, however, said that he only knew about the STF when the AFRC coup took place in May 1997.

Responding to the contents of President Kabbah’s statement, Taylor said that “it is very clear who they are – remnants of ULIMO who had been engaged as mercenaries in Sierra Leone. They are not my people.”

Mr. Taylor denied that he had given arms and ammunition to rebel forces in Sierra Leone during the country’s civil conflict.  He accused ULIMO soldiers of traveling to Sierra Leone with their arms and ammunition, which he said could have found their way into rebel hands.  “We were receiving reports that ULIMO fighters were going back and joining their friends in Sierra Leone with their arms and ammunition,” Taylor said.

The prosecution has alleged that Mr. Taylor was involved in planning the invasion of Sierra Leone in 1991 and that in subsequent years, he supported the rebels through the supply of arms and ammunition, and that by his acts or omissions, he bears responsibility for crimes committed by the RUF in Sierra Leone.

Prosecution has further alleged in evidence that Mr. Taylor sent Liberian fighters to join the RUF in Sierra Leone and that these Liberian fighters were part of the group that attacked Freetown in January 1999. Many witnesses have also testified that rebels who attacked their villages in Sierra Leone spoke with Liberian accents, and they believe these Liberians were sent to Sierra Leone by Charles Taylor. In his testimony before the judges of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Mr. Taylor has denied all these allegations.

The judges have ruled that during the duration of Mr. Taylor’s testimony, the Court would not sit on Fridays. Court will therefore resume on Monday.


  1. I strongly believe that PROOF was credible!!!! Again, we heard about Liberians been part of but the FACTS are now on display. The prosecutors knew about this but didn’t introduce it….WHY???

    This defense team is also doing the works of the prosecutors or in other words stealing her thunders…I will await to see whatelse or questions she has to ask.

  2. How Taylor can deny allegations that he used children as combatants in Liberia?
    How could anyone in Liberia forget the SBU-Small Boy Unit.?
    This was a very significant and essential fighting unit of NPFL commanded by Gen. Zoebon, a teen age rebel. During April 6 Crisis, a new group merciless killers emerged call the Militia also composed of child soldiers. These guys were easy to control and did not demand much from Taylor.
    It is undeniable that Taylor’s NPFL was composed of child soldiers.

    Taylor needs to deny something substantial, not child soldiers.
    It is obvious he will deny all charges until proven guilty.

    1. Kessely Korboi, those are the lies of the prosecution. The prosecution did not produce any proof that Taylor used children as combat fighter.

  3. Fellow Africans, especially Liberians, let us stop prejudicing the trial of former president Charles G. Taylor that is ongoing in the Hague, let me remind all of us about the coup in 1985 launched by our popular General Thomas G. Queinwokpa, all of us still re member the aftermath when the coup failed, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that former president will be freed or not, or if he is free, he will witch-hunt, all that I’m saying, let us listen and watch kindly as the Special Court for Sierra Leone adjudicate the trial and adjudge judgement, then at the result of the judgement, all of us, including those against and those for can now have the face to defense what he or she thinks. Liberian Brothers and Sisters, please listen and watch kindly, because, the judgement day is coming for this case.

  4. Kessely,

    By April 6 how old do you think the SBU were? Did you think they were under 18 years old? Definitely not. They retained their name that was given to thenm in 1990 although they were all over the age of 18. I am fully aware of this as a couple of my close relatives were in that unit. By 1990 they were between 14- 16b or thereabouts so calculate how old they were by 1996 when April 6 happened.
    These SBU did not take part in active combat but did guard duty.

    So please do not rush to say that lies are being told by Taylor. The issue of SBU in Liberia is not even in question in this case. Again the case IS ABOUT SIERRA LEONE NOT LIBERIA. Let’s leave the Liberia out of this matter. The Liberian situation is brought into play only to provide a contextual framework of the period in question and to give a background of the man Charles Taylor.

    1. Agree that this is about what happened in Sierra Leone, and the NPFL’s SBU operated in Liberia. But this is also an opportunity for Mr. Taylor to influence/scope of any future war crimes tribunal that may or may not occur in the Liberia.

  5. Saturday July 25, 2009

    I have just returned from a “tournament,” a soccer game here today, organized for celebration of our independence day tomorrow, the 162nd independence day of the oldest republic in Africa, the Republic of Liberia. The organizer of the event–at least its lead person to my knowledge– Mr. John McGill, had called and invited me three nights ago. Mr. McGill is mixed Americo-Liberian and very much Kpelle and by relentless insistence on his part we speak Kpelle a lot when he calls me and when I’m around him. No one can mistake the Americo-Liberian Mr. McGill is, by his mere physical stature. He had given me instructions as to where and at what time the event would commence.

    I arrived there in a seriously reasonable time by what instructions he had given me; yet did not see him or the Liberian team or anything Liberian. Instead and with amazement I saw only long-time Ghanaian friends; these friends and I embraced, shook hands and thence engaged ourselves into old-time jokes and jibes. After enough of it all I left to go find my people. Find my people, the Liberian group, I did.

    But the group, the Liberian Soccer team, one which for me would have somewhat depicted the world-known Liberian soccer champion, George Weah, looked disappointing; for insofar as I remember when growing up in Liberia, the Liberian-representative look did not look Liberian. They, for what I saw, were all native African boys. Their Liberian accent—such as I grew up with as a tribal boy myself—hit me starkly. (I should say so at this point that I have not for more than two of my three-plus decades of life in America consorted with a Liberian or, shouldn’t I say, with many Liberians.) I acted, spoke to and let the team boys know I was Liberian, too.

    There stood about them a man, a man who only by physical looks now seemed to brainstorm and intimidate me. He was starkly, so very solidly Anerico-Liberian. The jealousy hit me. He was very tall and nearly looked like a white man at least by gradation of African physical features. He was much hairy on his arms. I reacted with open, though muffled, sayings to the man, asking the team boys was he Liberian, too. They told me yes and now feeling guilty and in an apologetic and pretentious manner I walked up to the man, greeted him and told him I was Liberian and asked him was he so, to which he nodded yes. He wore dark glasses.

    The man was very gentlemanly and royal and though–in a somewhat condescending manner—he shook my hand, he didn’t really say anything. He had with him his two beautiful young daughters; I would say the one about three years of age and the other about five. As a way to ease tension and as a show of my instinctual love for the young and innocent I began conversing with the girls asking the one and the other, “What’s your name?” “How old are you?” etc. A competition of attraction now began between the two sisters over me and I had to pull myself away. It was the instant good date with them.

    I have come today to express my love for humanity at large, much for Africa and especially for Liberia on this its independence anniversary.

    I was born and raised in a village of Kayata; Kayata is of the Jokwelle people of the Kpelle tribe. I grew up principally in Gbarnga. Even as I am Kpelle I was brought up by a Loma minister, one Pastor Baysah. I grew up with everyone else including Americo-Liberians, Congos and second-generation Ghanaian-Liberians; this last group even spoke as muck good Kpelle as I spoke. There were the Mandingo boys, although I had very little or no interaction with them.

    Mrs. Marie Holder, an Americo-Liberian who was my sixth-grade teacher, made a very strong motherly impression on me. Mr. Holder, too, even as incomprehensible as it was to me why he had divorced Mrs. Holder, was for me a first-starter; for it was in Mr. Holder’s movie theater, even as not then understanding English very well, that I got addicted to Western and Karate movies—right there in Gbarnga and I was never yet fifteen years or older.

    I have come to play the journalist today (dwelling so guiltily on myself) but it is about our Republic and celebration of its anniversary. Liberia today is one of the most sickly-regressed nations of the world. The events that have transpired therein during the last three decades are continual reminder of the most shameful of deeds in human history, that of the massive enslavement of Africans by the white race. Liberia, an experimental social station (such as Cuba is) orchestrated by the United States, will forever remain a soil of unpredictable events. Be it seen that Liberia is a bedrock of unforeseeable instability; it is a stage for eschatology.

    If Mr. Taylor, appreciating America’s goodness of its milk and honey during his days in Boston and before President Tolbert, if Mr. Taylor had practiced to stay without greed for money, wealth and power– such state of humility as I myself strive to maintain– and if subsequently during the Doe administration Mr. Taylor overnight had not gotten exposed to that euphoria during politics when many evils can become a temptation; if in the beginning Mr. Taylor had not cared for the Liberian nonsense; Mr. Taylor, if only you, Mr. Taylor…

    I’m saying these things because I love Liberia and all Liberians. Our past illustrious President William Tubman led us to live that all peoples in Liberia are Liberians, to be treated with love and equality and to live with one ethos of national unity. My very best friends were Americo-Liberians even as I was a tribal boy. In Gbarnga there was never conflicts or struggles between the two groups eventhough we tribal boys always knew how to be such as blacks in America know how to act when among whites. I grew up with the Peabodys, the Diggs, the Knights (Marshall Knight, where are you today?) and very coexistently with the Holders—the aforementioned Mr. Holder and his new family. This new family of Mr. Holder’s was rather huge with his own children and an unreasonable number of warded tribal children from the Bassa, Krahn and Grebo tribes. Years later after growing up and while living in Monrovia I met a girl and through a conversation we discovered that we both had lived next to each other in Gbarnga; she had been one of the Holder girls. We recognized each other and instantly fell in intense love. She was a Krahn girl.

    There was Henry Harvey, a Congo boy in Gbarnga, whose family had a farm in Bellafuanai and who used to rent others and me his many bicycles. I remember the day Henry and I rode bikes from Gbarnga all the way to their farm in Bellafuanai and back.

    Liberian girls, whether of tribal origins or otherwise, when they speak English, they speak it with such melodious and exotic accent that that accent is very sweetly unique to the way Liberian women speak. I haven’t heard that accent for a few moons now.

    It is too early just yet to pass judgment on Mr. Taylor, but it is obvious that other hands are involved in this mess. The West—one of those “let’s you and him fight and see what happens?” I believe it was well-intended considering the long-term benefits for change of the old system that had existed in Liberia. The world is watching this case. But if now and again, Mr. Taylor, if you had never mingled yourself into all this bullshit! I am sorry it could be too late. I wish Mr. Taylor very much luck.

    On this our 162nd independence anniversary I wish Liberia and all Liberians, whether within or without the country’s physical borders, I wish all Liberians many blessings and pray for a new Liberia with a bright future, full of prosperity and progress. I urge all to desire and cultivate love for national cohesion and solidarity. God bless America. May God bless much more so the Republic of Liberia.

  6. Hey Mr. Taylor, your testimonies in court in the on going trial are but concorted lies in the face of an existing fact. It goes without question that you played a key role in the running of the RUF. This could be substantiated by your call to the defunct Rebel group to release all captured UN Peace keepersin Sierra Leone which command was executed without delay. Now you tell me, what do you think makes you so special to the rest of the world for the RUF to listen to? In my opinion this is a clear manifestation of the strongest of influence you had on this group.But remember one thing, you will surely reap what you sow.

    1. Konkona,

      Given this logic then you accept because George Bush told Charles Taylor he had to leave and he left. Then this makes George Bush Taylor’s so called leader right?

      1. Hey Aki,

        Not at all. There exist two differing contexts and individuals in question. You have one representing the views and opinions of a freeworld(Bush) and another whose objective is self ended designed to be achieved by the execution of series of calculated acts of terror directed against defenceless civilians(Taylor). Taylors role in the Command and Control structure of the RUF/SL and the AFRC was made evident at that time.

        1. Tamba,

          I don’t think George Bush can be used as a good moral compass here neither can Tony Blair. Lets say your accusation against Taylor is right, OK (remember this is for the sake of discussion, I am not rendering an guilty verdict). So Taylor financed acts of “terror against defenceless civilians” (I am quoting you, my friend Tamba), right? So lets take a look at the leaders of the “freeworld” (Bush and Blair) and their recent adventure in Iraq. Bush said that it would be a war of “shock and awe” referring to the aerial bombardment of Iraq. Fast forward, over 4,000 US and British troops have lost their lives. The action inflamed radicalism, and its believed up to a 1m people, Iraqis lost their lives, many innocent. There are reports of rape, false imprisonment; got the point? So your moral compass is not pointing north my friend; its actually point southward.

          So what’s the difference between the CT, and Bush and Blair on the other? So how would you classify the attacks in Iraq? So should GW and TB be put on trail too? The reality is this will never happen, because their respective countries will fight against it—notice a pattern here, they show unity and they then divide us.

          Thanks Tamba, we appreciate your passion–and I understand, but we have to look at “justice for all”, albeit, SL, Liberia, Iraq, or where ever injustice exist, it needs to be stamped out. Yet, the evidence don’t reflect your and the court’s accusation on CT–I am sorry it does not.

  7. What I want people is that Mr did not commate any crime.The trial is political.Taylor is going to walk out free because the prosecutor did not make a strong again Mr.I wait to see taylor free.

  8. I was not a supportor of Mr. Taylor during the war and I am still not his supportor. Having followed the trial to this point, it is clear that the entire thing is political. There is no case against the man. It is impossible for Mr. Talyor to have dined with human intestine(nonesense). Liberian, let us stop the pre-judgement against Mr. Taylor and pray for him. He is a Liberian who is on trial in a foreign land.

  9. I think this taylor issue is causing lot of problem among liberians. i want all of us to know that no matter how we feel about taylor, good or bad , taylor will pay for his action. And before this happen we all will get to know the big hand that was behind this hold problem that we went through during taylor regime.taylor will have to tell the entire world how he got out of jail and who give him this mission to go and destroyed the people of liberia.i believe that the hand that was behind president tolbert death was the same hand with Doe, unfortunitely taylor is in the 21 century so this time same difficult because the world now is a global community.

  10. Konkona engima,
    Do you understand what the role of an negotiator or a mediator is? Obviously not or you would not say what you said. A mediator has respect from both sides of a conflict and thus is able to negotiate concessions on behalf of both sides. Go and read up on this in international law and then maybe your mind will be clearer on the issue.
    If the fact that Mr Taylor assisted in getting the UN Peace keepers freed an example of command and control responsibility then someone is very very ignorant here. Do we then say that when negotiators were used to help get western hostages freed in Lebenon that they commanded and control Hamaz? Let’s be intelligent and not emotional and closeminded.

    1. Helen,

      Perhaps we need to be cautious in the application of words here. Taylors role in the 11 year civil war of Sierra Leone remains an issue considered as an open secret. Now coming to the issue of International Law, being a mediator or negotiator implies the absence of not playing an active role in the prevailing crisis. In this context, given the intstrumentality of Taylor in the Command and Control of the RUF/AFRC his role as a genuine mediator or negatiator remains an issue of debate to the very conscience of those who bore the brunt of the madness of his Ideology. Now I would like to perhaps have someone reminded here that history needs to be recalled as to the etimiology of the Sierra Leonean War. You please revisit ( should you have previously done it) this and continue tracking the role the indictee played in the Sierra Leonean Civil War. Just a word of caution, I urge you to look before you leap lest you fall in a pit infested with savage animals. In short do not take sides with the Devil, rather have him exposed as this is the only way we will be able to deter others from undertaking any such mischievous ventures in the near and distant future.

  11. Taylor will have no reason to deny his involment in the civil war in Sierra Leone.He was so involved that he used to have a sleep in boyedou, koindu Town. He sent Sankor to Sirra Leone, I was in Koindu when many of my friends joined those that came from Liberia with the war that Talor and Sankor combined to bring the then ruling goverment.

    1. Joshua,

      My friend you should be in the Hague and become a member of the ongoing circus too and continue to entertain us all. Look, this is the problem with this case, the witnesses claims “I was there, I saw it, I carried it, I heard it, I negotiated it, and I am telling you”. These are the punch lines for defense witnesses. I am not discrediting your claims, but the only way you could have known where Taylor slept was unless you were like Zig Zag, a member of his, “inner circle” (which of course was later discredited). Let’s be real with ourselves, until impeachable evidence is presented, THERE IS NO CASE! So if you have somethings that the court does not have and you have, I would recommend that you contact them that they might consider a motion to add it into their file–of course, it would be objected and “sustained” by the judges.

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