“I Was Not Aware Of RUF’s Operation No Living Thing,” Taylor Says

Charles Taylor did not order or know about an infamous operation launched by rebel forces in Sierra Leone during its civil war aiming to ensure that anything that had life must be killed, he told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges today.

“I was not aware of ‘Operation No Living Thing’,” Mr. Taylor said at his trial in The Hague.

During the presentation of the prosecution’s case, witnesses testified that Mr. Taylor worked in concert with Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) rebels to plan “Operation No Living Thing” against the Sierra Leonean population. After the operation, which saw the commission of grave atrocities by the RUF and AFRC rebel forces, the United States released a statement on May 12, 1998 expressing concerns about the atrocities that were committed by the rebels. The statement also said sources indicated that the rebels were supported by an unnamed West African government. In his testimony today, Mr. Taylor denied any involvement in such operation.

“I did not instruct anybody to launch such an operation. I had no control over anybody in Sierra Leone. There is no way that I would be in control or even acquiesce in any type of situation of this sort when throughout the revolution in Liberia we never had these kinds of atrocities, so this is impossible,” Mr. Taylor said.

Mr. Taylor told the judges that he had “no advantage whatsoever” to gain from getting involved in such an operation in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Taylor also admitted in court today that he knew there were Liberians who were fighting in Sierra Leone but these Liberians were  mercenaries paid for their services by the fighting forces in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor referenced several discussions that he had with former Sierra Leonean president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah about the presence of Liberians in Sierra Leone.

“Kabbah will tell me that there were Liberians fighting in Sierra Leone and I will say to him that I don’t know how those Liberians got to Sierra Leone but we were trying to get them back to their country,” he said.

He explained further that those Liberians who were fighting in Sierra Leone were not part of his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) but were remnants of other Liberian factions who had found their way to Sierra Leone.

“I thought they were just ULIMO-K [United Liberian Movement for Democracy in Liberia] and Armed Forces of Liberia personnel who had ran away following my election and they were just there as mercenaries,” the accused former Liberian president said.

Mr. Taylor is accused of sending Liberians to Sierra Leone to fight alongside the RUF rebels against the government and people of Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor has denied the allegations.

Mr. Taylor said he made frantic efforts to get the Liberians to leave Sierra Leone by offering them guarantees of non-prosecution for acting as mercenaries in a foreign country. He said that after some efforts, “some of them returned, some were unidentifiable but those with the Special Task Force [a group of Liberian fighters who reports indicate escaped to Sierra Leone during the Liberian conflict and eventually fought alongside the Sierra Leone army] did not return. They remained in Sierra Leone and some even applied to join the Sierra Leone army.”

Mr. Taylor also today refuted prosecution claims that whenever West African peacekeepers, based in Liberia, took off with their Alpha Jet aircraft to bomb RUF territories in Sierra Leone, he would send a radio message to the rebels to escape or put up a defense. Asked by his defense counsel whether he ever had any prior knowledge before the Alpha Jets took off from Liberia to launch operations in Sierra Leone, Mr. Taylor said “I couldn’t. The only time we would know of Alpha Jets was when they were in the air because they were very noisy.”

Several prosecutors, including former RUF radio operators, have testified that whenever the Alpha Jet was getting ready to leave Liberia to attack RUF positions in Sierra Leone, Mr. Taylor’s radio operators would alert the RUF of such an attack. Mr. Taylor has denied being involved in any such communications with the RUF.

Mr. Taylor’s testimony continues tomorrow.


  1. Tracey,
    is the trial transcript released the same day on the scsl .com web site? at my end I have not seen any transcript since the one on the first of september is this happening to all your viewers? your help is needed

    1. Hi Ziggy – yes the Special Court usually does post the transcript a day after the testimony, but they do seem about a week behind at the moment. Perhaps it has to do with Mr. Griffiths’ illness last week as the court was largely adjourned from last Tuesday onwards. If there are still no transcripts tomorrow I can try to check with the court to see what is going on.

      1. Tracey,

        The IT team is on schedule with the transcripts. The only one that has not been uploaded is the one from Monday, September 7, and that is understandable. The last transcript before Griffiths illness was that of sept 1. So Ziggy we are on course.

  2. “Several prosecutors, including former RUF radio operators, have testified that whenever the Alpha Jet was getting ready to leave Liberia to attack RUF positions in Sierra Leone, Mr. Taylor’s radio operators would alert the RUF of such an attack.” – by Alpha Sesay .
    Can anybody help with the date for the transcript containing the evidence ascribed to above?

    However the fact that someone sees an alfajet taking off from Liberia does not mean that the individual will know exactly where its targets are located in sierra leone. Even if for the sake of argument one concludes that the aircraft’s destination is sierra leone, no one but an insider will know for certain the target the aircraft is going to attack in sierra leone.

    Keeping in mind the often acrimonious relationship between Mr Taylor and Ecowas Millitary Missions, the prosecution’s case that mr Taylor knows the destination of those aircrafts and that he used such knowledge to warn the RUF about an impending attack will mean that he has co conspirators among the Ecowas Millitary Mission. Can anybody assist with who those people are? are there any radio intercepts that proved that those warnings actually occured and that Mr Taylor gave the instruction?

    1. Sam , these are some of the unconsciounable lies and deception that this prosecution presented in this trial. It shows lack of critical thinking and illogical syllogism.

  3. Hi Everyone,

    I need some clarification on an aspect of the trial session this morning. I heard one of the judges say that the portion of an evidence that was being presented from a prior trial was a fabrication and that she did not recall the testimony from that trial.

    I am confused as to whether this was what I heard. Did anyone hear this? The statement was made over the spelling of the name of one of Taylor’s Gambian officers named Musa N’jae. This was how Taylor claimed the individual’s name is spelt. However, the transcript from the prior trial carried the name as Musa Iyie, or somthing to that effect. But the point is the name was not spelt correctly, so it could have been another individual and the lawyer did not correct it. the second thing was the judge said she did not recall the testimony. Is this an issue of tempering or I am wrong.

    1. Dear V-man,

      I am sorry that your post did not appear and I cannot find the one to which you are referring. I approve all posts except those which breach our one rule of focusing on the substance of the issues raised by the trial and not the individuals posting, or the terms and conditions of use of the site. Would you mind reposting? I will make sure it appears as long as it meets these two conditions for the site.


  4. Dear all,

    This case reminds of a warning my grandfather once told me when I was much younger and in high school by then. He warned me that a dog must trust it’s backside before it swallows a bone, because it will surely have to push out the unprocessed bone out the system which is very painful moment. At the start of this case the procutors happly swallowed all of the bone because of its sweetness (the US. dollars) little knowing that a day will come that they will have to push the bone out. Go on Mr. Taylor, heat their stomachs and cause them more pains than ever before. History will surely be kind to you.


    Harris K Johnson

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