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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid