Witness Testifies About RUF Recruitment and Training In Liberia, Says She Did Not Hear Of Assistance From Charles Taylor

A woman who helped top Sierra Leonean rebels recruit and train fighters in Liberia in the early 1990s today said that Charles Taylor was not involved in that effort as far as she knew.  Her testimony contradicts prosecution allegations that the former Liberia president backed rebel forces as they planned to invade Sierra Leone in 1991.

Isatu Kallon, known as “Mammie Iye” said she helped top rebel leader, Foday Sankoh of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in his drive to enlist and train rebel forces, but not once did he or other top rebel commanders hint at Mr. Taylor’s involvement in their efforts.  Prosecutors, meanwhile, have alleged that the RUF rebels received substantial support from Mr. Taylor in recruiting and training fighters for the invasion of Sierra Leone after his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group attacked Liberia in 1989. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations, telling the court that he had no knowledge that RUF rebels were being recruited and trained in Liberia.

“Madam Kallon, that meeting that Pa Morlai [another name for Foday Sankoh] held in your house, do you know whether during the course of that meeting, the name Charles Taylor was ever mentioned?” asked Morris Anyah, defense counsel for Charles Taylor.

“At that time, no,” Mrs. Kallon responded.

Mr. Anyah also asked the witness about her conversation with another senior RUF member, Philip Palmer, whom she said was transporting Sierra Leonean volunteers for training to a place called Sokoto at Camp Naama in Liberia after they had been freed from the hands of NPFL rebels.

“When Palmer came with the truck and the volunteers entered the truck, and when Palmer later on came back two days after, during that two day period of time, did you ever hear Palmer mention the name Charles Taylor?” Mr. Anyah asked.

“No.” the witness said.

“When Palmer spoke of this place Sokoto and he mentioned that it was somewhere near Naama, during that conversation with him, did the name Charles Taylor come up?” Mr. Anyah asked.

“No,” Mrs. Kallon said.

Mrs. Kallon went on to tell the Special Court for Sierra Leone that when Mr. Taylor’s rebel forces – the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) — attacked Liberia in 1989, Sierra Leonean rebels in that group were harassed until they were rescued by RUF leader Mr. Sankoh. These Sierra Leonean nationals came to like Mr. Sankoh since he had saved their lives.

“There was too much harassment so when the Pa [Sankoh] came, he was able to stop that so they liked him,” Mrs. Kallon said.

Mrs. Kallon added that “he [Sankoh] sympathized with the people for the harassment. He told them not to blame the NPFL fighters but to blame our government because our government should have rescued us.”

On some occasions, Mrs. Kallon said that she also helped Mr. Sankoh to rescue Sierra Leonean nationals who were later recruited into the RUF.

Mrs. Kallon told the court that she used to provide food and soap for the RUF rebels while they underwent training at Sokoto in Camp Naama. She said Mr. Sankoh used to give her money to provide those services to the RUF but the money was never enough and so she had to use her own resources to provide enough food for the trainees.

Asked how she got extra money to provide these services to the RUF, Mrs. Kallon said that “through the business that I was doing.” She said that her husband also used to help with some money.

Asked whether she knew of any other people who provided such assistance to the RUF rebels, the witness said that “I know about myself but the area was so big, I did not go to the other places. I only know about myself and my husband.”

According to the witness, when she visited the scene to have a first hand look at the people she was providing support for, she found out that the RUF recruits were being trained in a valley at Camp Naama. The NPFL fighters, she said were being trained on a hill at the same Camp Naama.

When asked by Mr. Anyah whether the NPFL fighters ever interacted with the RUF recruits, the witness said that “the time that I went there, no.”

The witness said she also realized that the gate to Sokoto where the RUF rebels were being trained was always closed. She said she asked Mr. Sankoh why the gate was not open.

“He said his ideology that he gave his boys, he did not want them to mingle with the NPFL,” said told the court.

The witness said she could not tell what such ideology was.

Mrs. Kallon’s testimony continues tomorrow.


  1. fallah & davenport,

    At this stage, we should have a fairly good understanding of court proceedings. We should know by now that when motion/petition is made in open court; the ruling MUST be made in open court. If the judges had ruled on Ms Campbell’s subpoena it would have been in open court, not in Real Bollywool.com. The ruling was going to make head lines in Alpha’s summary including ABC News.

    Real Bollywool.com is nothing but a tyloid web site, there postings are based on friction, rather then fact. For example, I visited a supermarket couple of days ago, and on the shelves next to the cash register, one of the tyloid magazines President Obama looked like Hitler. There is a big difference between fact and fraction. We should be very careful not to filter friction into legal proceeding.

    Long story shot, unequivocally, the judges have not yet ruled on whether Ms Campbell will be subpoena or not. The Breaking News has not yet happened, and when it does happened, Alpha will be the first to placard it in his summary, and it will also be on ABC News. The Net Work that ambushed Ms. Campbell.

  2. I think these witnesses should give an account of not only their professions, but type of people they were in society before their involvement into the positions, they seemed to have found themselves. For example; Isatu Kallon or “mammie iye” should tell exactly what business she was doing, in the first place, that put her in capable financial status to not only help feed the RUF rebel recruits that were training next door to the Taylor NPFL rebels at Camp Naama, Liberia, but that made her so close to Rebel Sankoh. It seems difficult to comprehend this type of witness, that is not only illitrate, but claims to have substantial influence and power to sub-lease from Sankoh, ” trust” to supply provisions to RUF trainees, on Liberian soil, and without fear of taylor’s wrath, if taylor found out such was going on on his territory? Does Isatu Kallon understand what implications she is allowing herself to be placed in? Apparantly Not, and I sympathize with her limited litracy level and lack of rationale for being hired as a witness for taylor, in the first place! What does this witness know about the word “ideology?”

    1. Well Fallah the reality on the ground and of the events that took place has completely turned your logic above, upside down. let me provide you with more details about those rehtorical questions you asked.

      1) Q: Isatu Kallon or “mammie iye” should tell exactly what business she was doing, in the first place, that put her in capable financial status to not only help feed the RUF rebel recruits that were training next door to the Taylor NPFL rebels at Camp Naama, Liberia, but that made her so close to Rebel Sankoh?

      Answer: She was a business woman who started out selling food and latter started making soap and selling them in wholesale quantities. So she has the money she can use to food Sankoh and his recruits.

      2)Q It seems difficult to comprehend this type of witness, that is not only illitrate, but claims to have substantial influence and power to sub-lease from Sankoh, ” trust” to supply provisions to RUF trainees, on Liberian soil, and without fear of taylor’s wrath, if taylor found out such was going on on his territory?

      Answer: Well Taylor never found out! so nothing happend. this question has been overtaken by events is just a hypotetical question which history has correctly answered.

      Now you talked about illiteracy. Fallah if you want to be sincere to yourself how many people in Liberia were literate in the 1970s,1980s and early 1990s. you are speaking as if you were not in Liberia then. even former presidents of Liberia howmany of them were university graduates before Charles Taylor? Even you yourself Fallah what was your level of education before you fled Liberia to seek refuge in America? if you had remained in Liberia like many of your fellow Liberians what would have been your level of education by now?

      You see lets be objective when we make comments and lets not pretend as if all was well before the war and things were going smoothly. even now that the war is over how many Liberians have access to education and how any of those that have access to education can actually afford it?

    2. Fallah,
      Just score one for the defense!!!. The proseuctors’ witness didn’t HELP them. My question is, how was Mr. Taylor team able to find these people and the prosecutors couldn’t??

      Maybe you should open a school to teach “IDEOLOGY”.

  3. A few words on this Isatu Kallon’s claims:

    On nom de guerre…
    This witness calls the villainous “bible carrying” Foday Sankoh by his pseudonym or nom de guerre (“Pa Morlai”). This opens a can of worms or a Pandora box for the nom de guerre “Pa Morlia” was most popular than the name Foday Sankoh.

    and on pandora box…
    Now, the Pandora box opens with a few questions jumping out: What was Taylor’s nom de guerre? The papay? Ganghay? Or what? It was certainly not Charles Taylor.

    and conclusion…
    So perhaps if she did not hear the name CT she might have heard the name papay or whatever name CT used during his brutal crusade to commandeer political power as no man or woman living in CT captured territory had the audacity to recruit such a number of fighters without “The papay’s” knowledge. This guy ( CT ) held tight, authoritative, cultic, and dreaded control over his captured territories, subjugated subjects, and brainwashed band of ragtag fighters….and Liberians like myself who somewhat admired his youthfulness and rhetoric but strongly objected to his modus operandi and greedy ambition bear testimony to this. Nothing, absolutely nothing slipped the eyes, ears, and surveillance of CT.

    1. Well then Noko7, suggest to the prosecution to introduce that line of questions to the witness during cross exam since they still have the opportunity so it is not too late.

  4. Just because this witness never heard the name “Charles Taylor” mentioned does not in itself mean that Taylor did not support what was happening. Does the defense really expect us to believe that Taylor is so dumb that he would allow his operatives to mention his name? Here’s what I think happened in regard to Taylor’s support for the RUF: he knew he would eventually be caught, so he made sure that only himself and maybe one or two of his friends were aware of the entire plan. Everyone else only had as much information as was necessary to carry out their portion of the operation. Taylor knew that if there was ever a trial, the only eyewitnesses would be illiterates. Everyone else would either be dead or, as a result of their wealth, unwilling to testify. I think Taylor committed the prefect crime. He knew that since this was Africa, records would be hard to find.

    1. Well then Paivy that is why we are in court and we are not in a village square telling tales by moonlight. he that alleges must PROVE his allegation beyond resonable doubt. if you believe as you have postulated that he infact did it, then prove the evidence so that an impartial person will be convinced that he infact is guilty. But as the case stands its only the prosecution and their supporters that can actually understand their case and infact make any sense out of it.

    2. Nice try Paivy….don’t blame Mr. Taylor for been TOO DAMN SMART. The burden of proof lies on the laps of the proseuctors….if they had brought us EYES WITNESSES, one who SAW as in FACTUAL FACTS, we and I won’t be doing “I THINK”.

      The RUSH to hang him is why the prosecutors are loosing this case. Really, they thought this was a case where Mr. Taylor was going to BEG FOR MERCY but it seems it’s the prosecutors asking for FORGIVENESS. With ALL the resources she has at fingers tip, look at the end result.

      1. Noko,

        Do you think this is a game in which the “damn” smartest ( cf, alluding to your words) wins? Taylor and his NPFL and their cohorts, the RUF, systematically and ruthlessly killed, maimed, and victimized many Liberians and Sierra Leoneans and you take this to be a game.

        Now, I fully understand how some folks consider other humans like themselves not as humans but subhuman or lower than animals that they can kill without second thought and jubilate over their actions.

        But one thing is certain, justice will roll down like spring of water…and when that happens perhaps you might realize this was not a game for the damn smartest to win through deceptions, lies, cheating, and underhand playing.

  5. Here is a woman telling thist court how she provided support to the RUF while they were in training! So, what is the court going to do with this lady since she has said that she and her husband help recruit fighters of the RUF in Liberian and provided food and other support?

    I think the court has people infront her saying they are the one who are responsible for the recruitment, training transport of the EUF! So she need to act upon them.

  6. Dear Harris — I got your message of 6:04pm on June 17. I wish I could help you with your request, but I am not allowed to change any comments on this site, alas, because then I become the co-owner of the comments and we are not allowed to do that as monitors. We hope part of the credibility of hte site comes from the fact that people know we will not tamper with their comments on the site, even when they ask us to! I’m sorry to bother you with this — but would you mind making the change and resubmitting? I will happily post it as soon as I see it. If you need me to send you the comment again, I’m also glad to email it to you.
    Best, and thanks for your understanding — sorry I cold not be more helpful.

  7. Jocone,

    You raised a good point, but if you are asking for the court to sanctioned Madame Kaloon for aiding and abetting the RUF, the first thing that came to mind, did you (Jocone) watched or read the testimony of prosecution witness Zigzag, who admitted on the witness stand that he (Zigzag) was involved in cannibalism?

    Don’t you think that someone like Zigzag should be executed by firing squad???

    1. I would have no problem taking care of Zigzag. I attended all public hangings in Liberia and would solving Zigzag’s problem with a noose.

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