Charles Taylor Did Not Plan To Destabilize West Africa, His First Defense Witness Says

Charles Taylor did not formulate a plan to destabilize West Africa, according to the former Liberian president’s first witness who said he trained with Mr. Taylor’s rebels in Libya in the 1980s.

Mr. Yanks Smythe, a Gambian, today said that he was part of the Gambian dissident group which underwent revolutionary training at a Libyan military training camp called Tajura along with Mr. Taylor’s rebel groups. But while leaders of the Liberian, Sierra Leonean and Gambian rebel groups all stayed at the same guesthouse during this time, and their fighters trained in the same camp, they did not have any plans to collaborate in attacking their respective countries.

Prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Taylor met Revolutionary United Front leader, Foday Sankoh, and Gambian dissident Dr. Kukua Sambasanja (known as Dr. Mani) in Libya in the 1980s and that the three men formulated a common plan to destabilize the West African sub-region, starting with Liberia. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations, saying he never met Mr. Sankoh in Libya – only Dr. Mani and Allie Kabbah, a Sierra Leonean student leader who led a Sierra Leonean rebel group that was undertaking revolutionary training in Libya at the same time.  Today’s witness also said that Mr. Taylor did not meet Mr. Sankoh at the training camp.

Asked by Mr. Taylor’s defense counsel, Morris Anyah, whether he “knew of any meeting that took place at the Mataba where there was a discussion amongst these three leaders [Mr. Taylor, Mr. Kabbah and Dr. Mani], regarding an invasion of Liberia,” the witness said “no, no, no.”

“Do you know of any meetings that were held during the time you were at Tajura — I’m referring to meetings held at the Mataba or at Tajura — between Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor during which they discussed the invasion of Liberia?” Mr. Anyah asked the witness.

“No,” the witness responded.

Mr. Anyah further asked the witness whether he knew “of any such meetings held between Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor either at the Mataba or Camp Tajura during the period when you were there when they discussed the invasion of Sierra Leone?”

The witness responded with another resounding “No.”

“Do you know whether Mr. Taylor held such meetings at either location with Allie Kabbah discussing the invasion of Sierra Leone?” Mr. Anyah asked again.

For the fourth time, the witness said “no.”

The witness also denied prosecution allegations that Dr. Mani provided Gambian fighters to joined Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group when it attacked Liberia in 1989. The witness said no Gambian fighters were involved in the attack on Liberia when the West African country’s civil conflict started in 1989, but that Gambians later went to Liberia in 1990 to provide security to Mr. Taylor.

“Dr. Mani asked Mr. Taylor if he could send some of us, some of his men into Liberia to help provide security for him, since Prince Johnson has broken away,” Mr. Smythe said. “I know the situation, you know, became volatile. Mr. Taylor at the initial stage didn’t agree for us to go in…Mr. Taylor agreed later on.”

The witness’ account of Gambian fighters providing security for Mr. Taylor corroborates Mr. Taylor’s testimony that when some members of the NPFL broke-away in 1990, he had to rely on Dr. Mani’s Gambian fighters to provide security for him.

Mr.Taylor, who is on trial for his alleged support to RUF rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone, concluded his testimony as a witness in his own defense last week. The former president’s lawyers started leading his other defense witness in evidence today.

Mr. Smythe’s testimony continues tomorrow.


  1. Another lier ( Yanks Smythe ) has come forward today, and we will see quite a few of them, but this is only a stands of desperation for Charles Taylor and his defense team, he has admitted to his lies under oath which spelled QUILTY! and QUILTY it is! Mr. Taylor.

    1. Ziggy,
      Come on, stop fooling around. I personally know Yantz. He is a decent and credible special force commando. He is not lieing and will not Lie. Mr. Taylor was lied on by those who hate to see strong african leaders. They did all they could to kill him but failed . Now they think he can be arrested,disgraced and put into an unneccessary incasuration just toscare others who may come up tomorrow, but that ‘s a lie. What they don’t know is tha,t the Charles Taylor in the Hague now, is just one of the millions that Mama Africa has put up. AMANDA< AWAYTO……

      1. Noko5 and all,

        While I have nothing to say thus far about the witness and his testimony, I want us to gauge our moral compass. Noko5 just referred to Yanks as “decent and credible special force commando”, my question is this, what are the characteristics that make a person or Yanks “descent”? In my opinion, we have to be careful with our choice of words, because at times wrong word selection brings questions about our moral compass as individuals or a nation, like referring to individual warlords as “honorable”; this is sycophancy.

        I could validly argue that Yanks has a questionable past and may have been involved in killings (operative word, may). Others would argue what makes him any more credible than other admitted killers and cannibals like Marsah? I personally won’t refer to anyone who contributed to mass murder as “descent” or “honorable” (but then again, it’s me). If Yanks is so-called descent, so are all others who were directly or indirectly involved in the mayhem, am I correct for making this assumption? People help me out here!

        So the question is, what measurement is being used to qualify as “descent”?

        I hope this strikes a good conversation.

        1. $$ker-bnker,
          My man it seems as though you’ve gotten some kind of million dollar contract and I won’t mind sending my resume because I know the dolar dolar signs mean something. But let me leave that for now..Actually bnker, it was not everyone that took part in theb war was on the frontline executing the norms. There were people who render humanitarian services during the war, while being soldiers. There were people today that others will tell you that, if it was not for them, they or their whole family would have lost their lives and such folks today, because of their contrbution to mankind, especially during heated struggles, I would term such persons as decent and credible. So, to comment on your curiosity, Yanks falls in such category. I bet anyone to come up now and say, I was harrased, beating threatened or treated in any inhumaine manner by Yantz during the crisis.He was always on the good side of people, eventhough he may not be perfect. Now , quick question, if I had refrenced president Sirleaf,Dr. Amos Sawyer and People like Charles Brunskin as decent people, would you have differ or not?????

    2. You’re a joker boy. If you have nothing to share on the forum, the best thing to do is remain mute. Stop saying things you’ve no knowledge about.

    3. Ziggy Sali,

      Does President Taylor has the right to have a witness/witnesses testify on his behalf?

      What lie/lies has Mr. Yanks Smythe told this court that you know of to be on record in this court that he has lied about? Please be specific so we can discuss it.

    1. I would think you would be the last person to say “FACTUAL FACTS……an EYEWITNESS!!!!”. What makes this guy statement different from all the prosecution witnesses. Correct me if I’m wrong; Mr. Anyah did not share quarters with the leaders; so most of his statements concerning the Libya training camp would be considered “opinions” or “hearsay”.

      1. Al Solo Nyonteh,

        You are even helping to make the case much more easier for people to understand about the prosecution STAR WITNESS TESTIMONY V.P. Moses Blah and Mr.Symthe STATEMENT. Mr. Smythe statement corroborates Mr. Blah statement. For example: Mr. Blah said the leaders of the various groups were “not” sharing the same living place or quarter with the trainees and soon to be Special Forces. He even went on to say, Foday Sankor was a “TEA BOY” and was not the leader of the Sierra Leonean group. Therefore, he could “not” have resided where the leaders of the various groups were staying. However, Mr Smythe said the same thing that Moses Blah said about where the leaders were living was different from where the trainees were living. Notwithstanding, both Blah and Smythe were Special Forces and they were in Libya together and they said the leaders live in a different community from the trainees.

        Nontheless, Mr. Smythe is completely different from most of the prosecution witnesses who claimed someone told someone and that someone told another someone, but that someone is dead. But before that someone could die, they told someone and he is that someone. However, Mr. Smythe was the radio operator of the NPFL. He was called “Butterfly”, his code name. He was in Libya from start to finish. He was Deputy SSS Director. He was Embassador to Libya. This man is providing you first hand information. Most of the prosecution supporters are trying to equate President Taylor first witness to their discredited and hearsay witnesses. No way Solo.

      2. Al,
        I feel your pains….he was THERE to start, he told us what Mr. Blah told us about Mr. Sankoh…a TEABOY/NOBODY!!!! He didn’t share the living quarters but atleast he attended the conference as compare to those that came out and were NOT there. He told us about the invasion and the part played by him as compare to some put on the stand to tell us HEARSAY. This is what I called AN INSIDER!!!!!

        And if you noitced, I have not scored his testimony….the scoring comes under CROSS.

  2. Hey People!, Have you guys heard that Brenda Joyce Hollis is now the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone? wonders shall never end. just look at what the UN did in the special court. They appointed the Acting Registrar as Registrar but promoted Brenda J. Hollis above her Boss (Acting Prosecutor Joseph Kamara) as the new Prosecutor. WHY? Does it mean that Sierra Leoneans are not qualified to hold that office? why is it that ONLY Americans hold the office of Prosecutor of the special court? is this court an extention of the US Justice Department? Going by the dismal performace of the prosecution in this particular case, I wonder if the special court is employing the brightest minds or it is simply using politics to seek justice. But Politics and Law dont always go hand-in-hand.

  3. Oh my God, I can’t believe my hears, with Mr. Taylor trial in a middle point, Ms Hollis is awarded a UN top jod. What is this all about my people? Well, only God knows. But the defense has started well by puting smart individuals on the stand.


    Harris K Johnson

    1. Harris,

      I copied and pasted the story for us to read. Thanks for that information:

      Sierra Leone: veteran war crimes lawyer tapped as top prosecutor UN-backed court

      The Special Court for Sierra Leone
      22 February 2010 – A United States attorney, who leads the prosecution against former Liberian president Charles Taylor, has been named by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the new Prosecutor of the United Nations-backed tribunal trying the worst acts committed during the decade-long brutal civil war in Sierra Leone.
      Since 2007, Brenda Joyce Hollis has served as a principal trial attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), where she heads up the legal team prosecuting Mr. Taylor, who is under indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

      Prior to that, she was an expert legal consultant on international law and criminal procedure, training judges, prosecutors and investigators at courts and international tribunals in Indonesia, Iraq and Cambodia.

      Ms. Hollis has helped victims of international crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Colombia prepare submissions requesting investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

      She was also senior trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) from 1994-2001, serving as lead counsel in preparing the case against former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic as well as cases in which rape was charged as torture.

      The newly-appointed prosecutor paid tribute to Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Kamara, who has served as Acting Prosecutor since Stephen Rapp left the post last September.

      Also today, Mr. Ban named Binta Mansaray, a Sierra Leonean national, as the Special Court’s Registrar.

      Appointed as Deputy Registrar in 2007, she has served as Acting Registrar since last June.

      Ms. Mansaray first joined the SCSL as an Outreach Coordinator, where she designed its acclaimed grassroots programme to inform the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia about the Special Court and its trials.

      Prior to joining the SCSL, she worked as a human rights advocate for victims and ex-combatants.

      The Special Court is an independent tribunal established jointly by Sierra Leone’s Government and the UN in 2002. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone after 30 November 1996.

      Last September, the eight prisoners convicted and held by the SCSL were transferred to Rwanda to serve their sentences since no prison in Sierra Leone meets the required international standards. The remaining trial, involving Mr. Taylor, is continuing at The

      Perhaps the legal minds, Tracey and Alpha, can explicate how things work…but I guess folks get moved around anyway.

    2. Harris,

      Sometimes too socio-financial mobility is the name of the game. Promotion means more bucks, I suppose.


  4. Ladies and gentlemen on this blog, I am Johannson, a Liberian who has been following discussions on this blog and the trial from the start as far back as the time the indicment was read to pres. Taylor in Sierra Leone. Therefore, i am kindly asking you to admit me into this discussion. now, having said this, please let’s take into consideration what CT told the court in his testimony. can anyone tell me what he said?
    He told the court that he did not plan along with anyone, i.e Foday Sankor and Dr. Mani of Sierra Leone and Gambia respectively to destabilize Liberia, Sierra Leone and Gambia .
    Now what the first defense witness has so far said corroborates just exactly what CT said some weeks back. This shows the veracity of former President Taylor.
    Prosecution, watch out for more credible defense witnesses!!!!. Your case against Taylor has no real proof only

    1. Johannson,
      I want to warmly welcome you into this house; You are free to say the facts just as you’ve brilliantly illustrated. People may want to muscle you around, but don’t be detered by those hate forces. They have tried to take our dear presidents’ life but failed so far. We are battling them in everyway just as we did during our revolution, when galant forces under the command of Major Charles Mcathur Dakphana Ghankay Taylor dared Samuel Doe and his carnibals to testing. The road is rough, the battle is tough, but in the finally, we shall win. SO HELP US GOD!!Once again, I say welcome…

  5. THIS IS QUITE INTERESTING. I guess we will now be able to verify the testimony of Mr Taylor for those who are critical and keep saying tha he has been lying. This is only the begining of thinngs to come.
    Let’s watch and see. We will finally be able to see who was lying.

    I rest my case for now.

    1. Helen,

      Good points.

      Eventhe prosecution Super Star Witness Moses Blah made mention of Yanks Smythe who was actually in Libya during the time. Neither did Moses Blah say Taylor and the RUF/Sankor had a pact, nor Mr. Smythe. These are the kinds of corroboration of evidence we are talking about, eyewitness acount. As oppose to they say, dead people say, hearsay, super model say, aunty cousin brother in-law bestfriend nephew mother divorced friend say.

  6. WOW, when the prosecutors witnesses were on the stand all the Taylor supporters call them liars and all sorts of names. Now Taylor first witness is on the stand and now some of them know him personally, and how great of a man he is. I guest we should get them to testified on Taylor’s behalf also.

    Wait a minute didn’t Taylor and one of his supporter (probably Noko or Jose R.) said Sankoh was just a Tea Boy in Libya and Taylor never met Sankoh or had any real conversation with him about any revolution. Qoute on qoute

    “Mr. Yanks Smythe, a Gambian, today said that he was part of the Gambian dissident group which underwent revolutionary training at a Libyan military training camp called Tajura along with Mr. Taylor’s rebel groups. But while leaders of the Liberian, Sierra Leonean and Gambian rebel groups all stayed at the same guesthouse during this time, and their fighters trained in the same camp, they did not have any plans to collaborate in attacking their respective countries..”

    Oh, I see, they only met and stay at the guesthouse for a tea break to discuss the latest football games, please give me a break, once again Taylor has damage his own testimony. Of course his witness will say no such discussion about destabilizing the region took place. And no one knows including Taylor supporters what conversation took place in that guess house.

    However the prosecutors have proven their point that Taylor had contact with Sankoh while in Libya, link link link link.

    Folks do not be mislead, look at the overall case and see where Taylor is screwing up, can you tell me Taylor had no errors in his testimony. WOW, WHOA, after the first witness what a damage.

    1. Mr. Thompson,

      While I emphathize with your desire for justice, I caution us all not to let emotionalism cloud our minds. Are we following the same trial?

      For starters this witness has confirmed almost everything Taylor has said namely:

      1) The leaders(Taylor, Manneh and Ali Kabbah) stayed in seperate quarters from the trainees

      2) Foday Sankoh was not the leader for the Sierra Leoneons but Ali Kabbah

      Lastly even the prosecution’s own witness Moses Blah said that Sankoh was a tea boy. This case will boil down to who’s witnesses can corrobate their stories. So far I have to say the defense’s story is still intact.

  7. All,
    WARNING! FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT STOMACH MY ANALYSIS AND STRATEGY ASSESSMENT AND PREDICTIONS, MY ADVISE TO YOU IS PLEASE SKIP AND MOVE ON! I’ve had someone tell me that they don’t care for my observation. So if you are from similar school of thought, spare yourself the “torture and pain”; don’t read this!

    We have a second witness on the stand. So what do I think the strategy for the defense and prosecution. First, the defense will portray Yanks as a credible witness, a good guy; someone who knew the working of the NPFL by virtue of the fact that the “Gambians” served as personal security details to Taylor. Directing and leading questions will be used to corroborate with Taylor’s story.

    On the other side, the prosecution will ask about the about the inner workings of the Taylor government; Hollis et team will say that Yanks owes Taylor his loyalty since he was given a safe haven and citizenship; he is reciprocating. The prosecution will further ask Yanks about his involvement in the Gambian six day coup and whether he is truly wanted by the Gambian government? Notice, the questioning by the defense thus far, “to your knowledge” is used several times. This is a loophole, the prosecution could say, to the best of your knowledge some meetings never took place right? He will respond yes. Then he will be asked so it’s possible that these meetings took place without your knowledge; and he will most likely say yes to that too. The prosecution will ask if he was in meetings with Ben Yeatan, Urey, and the rest. This is meant to discredit him as a knowledgeable source or resource. I am strongly convinced that Yanks activities in the Gambian short lived coup will be brought up. Depending on what he says, the weight of his testimony will either hold or prove immaterial.

    It’s too early in this testimony to get deeply involved in analyzing and judging Yanks.

  8. Hi Guys

    We All know who those lire are and the Defense will expose them all. Look my People the Defense is bring up witnesses people that worth Listening to people that are pride of what they are doing,These are witness of substance and credibility so we will get the Truth and nothing but the Truth. Go ahead MR. Smythe tell them the Truth.

    I strongly Believe There will be no close section,because these witness got nothing to hide.

    We are here and Listening Prosecution Zero.



  9. Well the dice has been cast with the first withness of Mr. Taylor on the stand. I will only causion thoes of us who one way or the other post in favour of Mr. Taylor to be mindful because this withness will be cross by the proscusion. When the withness testimony under cross examination is in agreement with his previous statements then you begain to clap.
    I know Mr. Smith to be a smart person however, this is a court trial sometimes people performance given testimonies is different while been cross examine.

    1. Tell Mr. Koumjain to come with his A GAME…..trick questions won’t do…as you can see, this witness has even asked the defense to narrow the questions to a particular event. I too await the CROSS

  10. Tracey,
    I have two threads for the 23 and 24, respectfully that have not been posted, did I misbehave and broke some rule?

    1. $$Ker-Bnker — no, you did not misbehave as I think you always try to adhere to our policies on this site – instead it is just a matter of timing for me. I just travelled to The Hague and was trying to moderate from the airport yesterday before I left with little luck. Thanks for your patience and please be assured that I will always tell you if I am not posting any of your comments because of policy or legal reasons. But I think you usually always accord with the policy, so hopefully you will see your comments up any second now. Let me know if you don’t see themand if you don’t get another message from me explaining why.

      1. Tracey,

        So, how was the flight? So are you going to post some pictures (not off you), but sites, like the outside of the court and other cool stuff?

        If it’s not allowed, its OK, just curious.

        1. $$ker-Bnker — what a great idea! I actually brought my digital camera with me — just not my plug to download photos into my computer. I can certainly take some and then see if I can post them when I get back.
          (and thank you for asking, yes the flight was indeed fine).

        2. We will love to see snapshots of the proceedings, Tracey.

          Thanks for asking for some photos, $$Ker-Bnker.


  11. sylcor,
    Just to retrospect alittle, when Mr. was being examine by his lawyers, people anticipated that prosecution would have torn down him apart during cross examination. But you and I know how he kicked Brenda Hollis and Komjian butts samutainiously. So don’t worry, when a commando is graded special forces, it goes beyond his millitary tactics on the battle field to his mental capability. Meaning, he must remember whatsoever he is encountering nomatter what. So, trust me we are fine…You know how weak the prosecution lawyers are…

  12. Noko5,
    On descent….

    To answer your latter question, I would have asked the same question. Frankly, I am not a respecter of positions, but persons. I think your questioned was answered even before you asked. I am posting excerpt of my previous thread, “I personally won’t refer to anyone who contributed to mass murder as “descent” or “honorable” (but then again, it’s me)”.

    Unfortunately, I still don’t see how a soldier of fortune (mercenaries) like Yanks and others can be considered descent people. These guys for the right price kill people. They get paid to support war, so would you compare the founder of Executive Outcome, and Xe (formerly Black Water) descent, even though their men were involved in war for hire? I agree I didn’t hear of anyone who Yanks harassed, then again, I didn’t hear of much atrocities by the Gambian, except for “Black Jesus” on Duport Road.

    I personally think that we should establish standard for ourselves and our people. I know some people who are descent, and have not referred to anyone as “descent” without using quotation. I mentioned Tolbert as a “descent” man, but that word was taken from David Lamb’s book, “The African”. He describe Tolbert as a descent man although untouched by corruption.

    Noko5, I will send you my resume ok? lol!

Comments are closed.