As Issa Sesay Resumes His Testimony, He Says The RUF Did Not Fight For Charles Taylor In Guinea and Liberia

Returning to the stand after a brief illness, a former Sierra Leonean rebel leader said his group did not fight battles for former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, in neighboring Guinea and Liberia.

In the trial of Mr. Taylor for his alleged role in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone during the country’s brutal 11-year war, prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Taylor had control over Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels.  From this position of authority, prosecutors say, Mr. Taylor sent RUF rebels to attack a rebel force in his own country – the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) – which was threatening to unseat his government and helping to dislodge the government of former president, Lansana Conte, in neighboring Guinea. Despite an ongoing disarmament process in Sierra Leone at the time, arms and ammunition for these operations were allegedly given to the RUF by Benjamin Yeaten, Mr. Taylor’s Director of Special Security Services (SSS), who was commanding troops against LURD rebels in Lofa County, Liberia. Mr. Taylor has denied these allegations.

“Benjamin Yeaten provided the RUF with ammunition to launch these attacks in Guinea and Lofa in Liberia,” prosecution counsel Nicholas Koumjian asserted today.

“No, Benjamin Yeaten did not give me ammunition and I did nor send the RUF to fight in Guinea and Liberia,” Mr. Sesay responded.

In 2008, prosecution witnesses told Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague that they were part of the RUF fighting force sent to fight in Guinea and Liberia. Mr. Taylor gave orders to Mr. Sesay for the RUF to attack these countries and Mr. Sesay in turn mobilized RUF fighters to cross the Sierra Leonean border into the two countries, the witnesses told the court in 2008.

“Issa Sesay said Charles Taylor informed him that we should give him ground in Guinea so at the time of the disarmament in Sierra Leone, we’ll shift some of the ammunition to Guinea for safe keeping…from there, Issa arranged transportation to Liberia, we met Benjamin Yeaten and he said guys we should get ready for the operation,” one of the prosecution witnesses was quoted as having said in 2008.

“You as interim leader of the RUF were battling the enemies of Charles Taylor in both Liberia and Guinea,” Mr. Koumjian confronted Mr. Sesay.

“I did not fight the enemies of Charles Taylor,” Mr. Sesay said.

Mr. Taylor has maintained that when he cut off dealings with the RUF in 1992, he only had contacts with them again in the late 1990s when he got involved in the peace efforts in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor has said that his only dealings with the RUF in the early 1990s were to help him fight off a rival Liberian rebel group attacking from Sierra Leonean territory. Today, Mr. Koumjian asked Mr. Sesay whether Mr. Taylor requested help from the RUF in the same way he had sought help from the RUF’s leader, Foday Sankoh, in the early 1990s. Mr. Sesay said that was not the case.

“Did Charles Taylor ask you to assist him the same way he had asked Mr. Sankoh?” Mr. Koumjian asked Mr. Sesay.

“No, No. He did not ask me, he could have asked Mr. Sankoh but he did not ask me,” Mr. Sesay responded.

“The RUF [fighters] who went there did so on their own accord,” Mr. Sesay said, prompting a question from Mr. Koumjian as to whether Mr. Sesay was confirming that RUF fighters did indeed cross into neighboring Liberia.

“What I mean, when I asked them [RUF] to disarm, the Vanguards [original RUF fighters trained in Liberia] who refused, crossed over to Liberia. Even Superman [a Liberian RUF commander] went over to Liberia, but to say that I organized men to go over to Liberia, no,” Mr. Sesay said.

On the RUF cross-border attacks in Guinea, Mr. Sesay also insisted that “Mr. Taylor did not give me any operation to attack Guinea.”

“There were cross-border attacks which the Guineans launched and the RUF was repelling them…The Guineans were launching long range missiles which were landing in RUF controlled territories,” he added.

Mr. Sesay also refuted claims that former rebel fighter, Daniel Tamba (otherwise known as “Jungle”), was a member of Mr. Taylor’s SSS assigned to the RUF as Mr. Taylor’s official representative. Several prosecution witnesses have testified that Jungle was Mr. Taylor’s representative to the RUF who moved between Sierra Leone and Liberia with diamonds from RUF rebels to Mr. Taylor, and arms and ammunition from Mr. Taylor to the RUF. Mr. Sesay has dismissed these claims as lies, saying that when Jungle crossed from NPFL territory into Sierra Leone in the early 1990s, he joined the RUF and remained with the Sierra Leonean rebel group until the time of the disarmament in the country.

“As far as I know, Jungle was not an SSS, he was a member of the RUF,” Mr. Sesay told the court.

Mr. Koumjian displayed a list containing the names of SSS members who were assigned to the Executive Mansion as part of Mr. Taylor’s “Presidential Advance Team” and the 9th name on the said list was that of “Daniel Tamba” (Jungle). Mr. Koumjian also displayed a photograph of persons in military fatigue and Mr. Sesay identified the two visible persons in the photograph as SSS Director Mr. Yeaten and Jungle.

When put to him that “[Jungle] was the liaison between Charles Taylor and the RUF,” Mr. Sesay said: “No, Jungle was with the RUF for a long time, he was not a middleman.”

Mr. Sesay’s testimony continues Thursday.


  1. Nail it Mr Koumjian! In full glear of hard evidence Mr. Sesay contineus to deny.
    You may hold on to the ills that make you a difiant murderer but your denials are not going to burry compelling evidences , a piece of which was pictorialy shown today.

    Above all else, justice!

    1. Vem,

      Again, name calling will not help. You can call him “defiant murderer” all you want. It is not going to eventuate into anything meaningful. He already told you that President Taylor was and never his boss as alleged by this fake prosecution. He also told you he was never appointed as an interim rebel leader for the RUF by President Taylor as mentioned by this false prosecution. In fact, he corroborated what Mr. Taylor said that his appointment was a collective decision by Ecowas. More importantly, he said, it was Obassanjo’s idea that he Issa Sesay be the new leader of the RUF, and not this innocent man Taylor, and he provided document to support his assertion.

      Sorry boss, Mr. koumjian is only fronting now. It is way too late as Naomi Campbell and Issa Sesay have destroyed this fake case.

    2. vem,
      Koumjian did nail it today. He came very close he saying he think Mr. Taylor will be aquitted or release.

  2. Sam & Aki,
    Its really hard to understand what proves is needed any more. Prosecution allege that Charles Taylor supported and had the most influence over the RUF; Which was again proven today. Issa Sesay was confrontrd with his many many signatures, and suprisingly those he earlier said was not his turn up to be his.Secondly the exposure of Charles Taylor double agent / SSS commander Daniel Tamba aka jungle; Issa is quoted today as ” As far as I know, jungle was not an SSS, he was a member of the RUF.” When confronted by Mr. Kumjian with the roster of Charles Taylor’s SSS members and Daniel Tamba aka Jungle as the 9th person on the list; Issa was very upset as he was caught in a lie.As Taylor is quilty of these charges as presented, hope is for the prosecution to keep Issa Sesay on the stand, to exposed all of the dealings of Charles Taylor that led to innocent lives and destructions.

    1. Ziggy Salis,

      Taylor himself said he incorporated some of the former RUF fighters including Sam Bockari into the security sector as part of the deal in bringing lasting peace to Sierra Leone. So what is strange here boss? Remember now, they were now citizen of Liberia. However, is this all you have? UNBELIEVABLE.

      1. Jose,
        Jungle was never a citizen of Sl he wasa born a Liberian and lived all his life in Liberia. He only joined the RUF on his own and for his own financial gain. Mr Koumjian is only grabbing for straws.

    2. Ziggy Salis,
      This list where Jungle was listed 9th on Mr. Taylor’s “Presidential Advance Team,” did the prosecution say it was before or after Jungle crossed from NPFL territory into Sierra Leone in the early 1990s, he joined the RUF and remained with the Sierra Leonean rebel group until the time of the disarmament in the country,” as Sesay stated. Sesay also Stated, “As far as I know, Jungle was not an SSS, he was a member of the RUF.”

    3. Ziggy Silas,

      It is clear from the testimony of the protective witness on Tuesday that some people including Daniel Tamba and Benjamin Yeaten had dealings with the RUF. However the protected witness has made it clear that Charles Taylor was not aware or had anything to do with them. Yeatin and Tamba were out to make a fast buck for themeselves. There was a documentary on television about a Lebanese diamond dealer who did business with the RUF thru Benjamin Yeaten. Never once in the entire show did the diamond dealer say that Charles Taylor was aware of any of the transactions that Benjamin Yeaten brokered between himself and the RUF.
      The diamond dealer was imprisoned in Belgium for two years for dealing in conflict stones. I am sure the prosecution may have contacted him for this case. He probably had no information implicating Mr. Taylor and thats why they never called him.

  3. Prosecution has concluded the cross examination of Issa Sesay. Well, what have they gained? for me, they have not done anything to show that Issa Sessay has lied about receiving orders from Charles Taylor neither have they shown that he lied when he denied that he gave diamonds to Charles Taylor.

  4. @ Alpha

    there is a problem with the translation of Sesay testimony that has probably been ongoing. first, the person translating/ repeating his testimony is not doing it accurately. for example, sesay responded to a question on redirect
    ‘ i remember.” the translator said ” i recall'” normally tomatoe tomato. but here exact translation is required and important. in court answering i recall or i do not recall can carry certain under tones. also, my concern is that sesay voice is softer than the voice being used. the use of a louder more forceful voice can affect whether one believes what the witness says or not. Please don’t bother with saying the judges are learned and fair.. i know that. The listening audience deserves to hear true voices and all the under tones that go with the voice.
    after all, we are expected to accept the final outcomes of this court.

    1. Sekou,

      Indeed, it is a phenomenally awesome piece. We all know why these world powers don’t want this innocent man returning back home when he’s acquitted. However, the only thing that’s preventing him or serving as a stumbling block for Mr.Taylor presidency is this inherently flawed court. However, they can not use the TRC document to stop him from running for president. Neither can they stop him. Their only hope is this court.

      I strongly recommend readers to read this masterpiece website provided by Sekou.

    1. Jenniferth,
      TF1 is a prosecution investigative distinction. When prosecutors first started investigations, those witnesses associated with the AFRC/RUF/Charles Taylor cases were investigated by Task Force 1. Those witnesses relating to CDF were investigated by Task Force 2. So TF1 actually means “Task Force 1.” For defense witnesses, DCT meants “Defense-Charles Taylor.” MFI means “Marked for Identification.”
      Hope this helps,

  5. As judging from the evidence adduced by DCT-008, so far, Mr. Taylor was not as aware of all of the people under his leadership (Benjamin Yeaten & Daniel Tamba) and their dealings, as would be led to believed by the prosecution.

  6. International Crisis Group report: “President Taylor continues to harbour dissidents bent on invading Guinea”.

    Liberia: The Key to Ending Regional Instability

    Africa Report N°43 24 Apr 2002


    While the international community has made great strides in improving the security situation in Sierra Leone, Liberia remains a wellspring for continued conflict stretching across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Given the regional ambitions of its president, Charles Taylor, and his continued willingness to use proxy militia fighters in neighbouring states, the hard won peace in Sierra Leone remains in jeopardy.

    While the armies of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have largely remained confined to their national territories, militias such as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) – effectively Liberian President Charles Taylor’s foreign legion – the Sierra Leonean Kamajor “hunter” militias and a range of Liberian dissidents have battled with little regard for national borders.

    The remarkable intervention of the international community to end the war in Sierra Leone has helped shift the front line of what is a regional conflict away from the capitals of that country and Guinea to within striking distance of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. Liberia’s internal situation has been the dynamic that has provided fuel for the broader war, and no peace in the region will be viable until it is dealt with more forcefully.

    That situation has returned to the spotlight as a result of the recent gains made by the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). While limited information is available, the LURD is a serious military force capable of challenging President Taylor’s control over much of Liberia. It has received material support from Guinea and Sierra Leone militias and the calculated indifference from Great Britain and the U.S. – all increasingly wary of Taylor’s adventurism. However, the LURD is also an organisation in flux, without defined political program or unified leadership.

    Open warfare may now be confined to Liberia, but conditions for its spread are ripe. The RUF remain active just across the border from Sierra Leone inside Liberia. President Taylor continues to harbour dissidents bent on invading Guinea. Sierra Leonean “hunter” militia opposed to both Taylor and the RUF are keen to join an advance on Monrovia.

    Taylor continues, with Libyan support, to push a grand scheme of political change in West Africa. He has been the key figure in the attempted destabilisation of Guinea and Sierra Leone. His continued violation of UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions and history of using peace agreements to secure tactical military advantage suggest that the current Mano River Union peace process is not the answer to the regional crisis. That process is largely an attempt by President Taylor and his allies to ease LURD pressure, buy time for a counterattack, and produce sanctions on Guinea. It should not divert attention from the primary cause of the crisis: Charles Taylor himself.

    Taylor’s rule has fuelled much of this regional instability. Operating under a thin veneer of democracy, his Liberia is an increasingly impoverished cauldron of discontent in which any real challenge to the ruling elite is met with at least intimidation. Many opponents have been driven out of the country. However, increasing numbers are eager to return home to challenge Taylor’s leadership

    With UN sanctions against Liberia due to expire in May unless renewed, the international community faces tough choices. Much of the debate comes down to engagement or containment. Those pressing engagement argue that Taylor should be encouraged to pursue domestic reforms and mend his ways. Advocates of containment counter that he is irredeemable, and argue for weakening his regime through sanctions in the hope that he will eventually be removed from within.

    Unfortunately, these seem to be false choices with a potentially high cost for Liberians and the region. Engagement threatens to guarantee Taylor another unfair election victory in 2003 and to risk that the cycle of conflict continues another six years. Containment threatens to produce a protracted civil war or descent into chaos if Taylor is removed without a viable opposition ready to take over.

    What is needed is a two-track approach aimed at truly free and fair elections. Both pressure and “principled” engagement should be used to obtain a negotiated solution that ends Liberia’s conflict and secures fundamental reforms, including restructuring of the armed forces, return of opposition, and guarantees of freedom of expression and political activity. Taylor must also be pushed to understand that if conditions for free and fair elections are absent at the end of his term next year, the international community will press for power to pass to an impartial interim government, which will rule until necessary reforms have been made.

    This type of compromise must be hammered out in a setting which includes all Liberia’s principal stakeholders. Success depends on whether the international community can exert enough pressure on the Taylor regime, primarily through sanctions, to make it willing to strike a deal, and on whether the opposition and civil society can unify. Because of the influence it exerts on Taylor, Libyan cooperation with the international effort would be important.

    As noted, a peace agreement itself will not bring sustainable change to Liberia. The time before the end of Taylor’s term must be used to promote “change from within”. Although the opposition is divided and civil society is weak and largely co-opted by Taylor, there are courageous exceptions that can serve as a foundation. The international community should commit itself to diplomatically encouraging the development of responsible alternatives to Taylor’s regime, and give significant financial assistance to civil society to help it serve as a viable alternative. Unless it is willing to address the underpinning of the violence in Liberia, the region can expect mostly more misery, death and destruction. Long-term attention is not always the international community’s forte, but the situation in Liberia demands just such an approach.


    To the Governments of Nigeria, France, the United States and United Kingdom:

    1. Form a “Contact Group” to align positions on Liberia and help create a peace process including all Liberia’s principal stakeholders. One or more Contact Group members should take the lead in consulting with the Libyan government.

    2. Pressure the LURD, its sponsor Guinea and the Liberian government to negotiate a ceasefire and to convene substantive peace negotiations including civil society and opposition.

    3. Demand that the Liberian government implement a program of comprehensive institutional reform, including security sector reform and re-establishment of rule of law to pave the way for free and fair elections.

    4. Make clear to President Taylor that if he does not meet conditions for holding free and fair elections by the end of his term, the international community will press for power to pass to an impartial interim government.

    To the United Nations Security Council:

    5. Support the peace process in Liberia, in particular by:

    maintaining the arms embargo on Liberia until the conflict is fully resolved, and lifting diamond and travel sanctions only if the Liberian government agrees to an acceptable negotiated solution;
    developing a more vigorous mechanism to monitor the enforcement of sanctions effectively, vigorously pursuing prosecution of key businesspeople assisting the Liberian governing in violating those sanctions, and ensuring that the travel ban applies to all these associates; and
    imposing maritime and timber sanctions on Liberia if it does not make acceptable concessions in a negotiated settlement, or if it does not fulfil its commitments in that settlement;

    To the UN Secretary General:

    6. Ensure the impartiality of staff working at the UN Peace-Building Office in Liberia to avoid a pro-government bias.

    7. Strengthen the role of the UN Peace-Building Office in Liberia by revamping its human rights component to monitor effectively and report on the security of civil society and opposition groups.

    8. Instruct the UN Peace-Building Office in Liberia and UN and international humanitarian organisations operating in the region to engage in a limited fashion with the LURD to encourage it to respect the human rights of civilians under international humanitarian law and otherwise to pursue a moderate political agenda.

    To International Donors:

    9. Fund a comprehensive program of institutional reform if the Liberian government agrees to an acceptable negotiated solution.

    10. Initiate immediately a substantial program for funding independent Liberian civil society and media institutions, focusing on public information, advocacy, civic education and mobilisation, and rural outreach, including support for establishment of independent short wave radio stations in Liberia and surrounding countries and of FM radio antennas throughout Liberia.

    11. Provide international guarantees and monitoring to ensure the security of vulnerable opposition and activist figures.

    12. Support opposition leaders and parties in the event they, and international observers, concur that the opportunity for full and free participation in the electoral process has been denied, and refuse to recognise a government resulting from those elections.

    To Civil Society and Opposition Groups:

    13. Convene a forum of opposition parties and civil society groups not co-opted by the Taylor government to develop common positions.


    1. @ teage
      i thought we covered that we can’t believe everything we read. your beloved western governments stood by while the fighting went on and on in Sl, Liberia, Rawanda..etc.

  7. If Mr Taylor didn´t aware of Yeaten and Jungle´s activities, then it was a negligence of duty on his own part as the man Liberians depend on for their safety and well- being at that time. With all CT’s intelligence networks around him? Its sounds funny. The victims are waiting to see the end of this trial.

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