News / Africa

Rights Group: Prosecute Alleged Arms Dealer

Victims of mutilations perpetrated by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) gather at the Handicap International camp in Freetown, May 18, 2000. (AFP)
Victims of mutilations perpetrated by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) gather at the Handicap International camp in Freetown, May 18, 2000. (AFP)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A human rights group is calling on Sierra Leonean authorities to investigate a suspected arms dealer. U.N. investigators have alleged Ibrahim Bah supplied arms to rebels during Sierra Leone’s civil war.


The civil war lasted 11 years, ending in 2002. During that time, RUF and AFRC rebels committed many atrocities, including murder, amputations, rape, kidnapping and torture. Ibrahim Bah, also known as Ibrahim Blade, allegedly provided arms and other support to the rebels.

“Ibrahim Bah was for many years – well over a decade -- a key figure in rebel operations in West Africa. He was a key go-between, financial comptroller and liaison between Charles Taylor and then the RUF and AFRC, the two rebel groups in Sierra Leone,” said Corrine Dufka, senior West Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Dufka said that Bah allegedly helped smuggle blood diamonds out of Sierra Leone. 

“He was a key and central figure that Taylor used in order to ensure transaction between blood diamonds and then logistics needed for the RUF and the AFRC.”

Bah is a Senegalese national believed to have spent time in Libya during Moammar Ghadafi’s rule and believed to have fought with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Dufka said it appears Bah first met Taylor in 1988.

“He sort of melted away in 2000 / 2001 / 2002 and was believed to have gone to Burkina Faso. Then, just this year, with the publication of the panel of experts report – that’s the U.N. panel of experts report for Liberia – he was found by one of the researchers to be living in, of all places, Sierra Leone. And evidently he had been living there since 2008,” she said.

Bah had been under a U.N. travel ban since 2004 and was thought to be in Burkina Faso. Why Sierra Leone authorities did not alert the U.N. about his presence remains an unanswered question.

“What Human Rights Watch and the local human rights groups in Sierra Leone are asking is that the Sierra Leonean government investigate this individual for his involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone,” she said.

The U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone handled many cases relating to the civil war. This includes that of Charles Taylor, who’s on trial for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. Dufka said that an investigation of Bah by Sierra Leone would be the country’s “first purely domestic prosecution relating to war crimes or crimes against humanity.”

What’s more, Dufka said Bah may have had links to al Qaeda prior to the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11th, 2001. The Washington Post had reported that some al Qaeda members had gone to Liberia to obtain blood diamonds to fund their activities, knowing that their assets would be seized or frozen after the attacks.

Dufka added there are unconfirmed reports that Bah was not prosecuted by the Special Court because he was cooperating with intelligence services. The court is now winding down its operations.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid