Liberian Civil War ‘Dragon Master General’ Arrested in US


Laye Sekou Camara, alias “General Dragon Master”, accused of committing acts of brutality during the Second Liberian Civil War, was accused of using an immigration document fraudulently obtained in Pennsylvania. Above, a photo purportedly shows a Liberian rebel group, including Camara, left, celebrating near Monrovia, Liberia, August 5, 2003.
GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty

A man accused of committing atrocities during the Second Liberian Civil War when he was known as “General Dragon Master” has been arrested by federal authorities in Pennsylvania.

Laye Sekou Camara was charged with using a fraudulently obtained immigration document, according to a criminal complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. When applying for a nonimmigrant visa in 2011, Camara allegedly claimed that he had “never been a member of or involved in a paramilitary unit, vigilante unit, rebel group, guerrilla group, or organization. of insurgents”.

However, according to an affidavit from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigator included in the complaint, Camara was a leading member of the rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, or LURD, which was accused of committing atrocities, including the massacre of civilians, during the 1999-2003 war in Liberia.

“In fact, he was a high-ranking member of the LURD rebel group during Liberia’s second civil war,” the investigator said of Camara, according to a copy of the complaint given to Newsweek by Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Extremism Program at George Washington University.

The complaint cites a 2004 State Department report which claims that Camara was also known as “Sekou KAMARA” and “K1”, in addition to “Dragon Master”. At the time, Camara was “in hiding after allegedly killing another LURD general known as the Black Marine,” according to the report.

After allegedly mistakenly obtaining a visa to enter the country, Camara was later issued a green card under the same pretexts, which he later used when applying to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in 2017. Camara lived in Southwest Philadelphia before his arrest, according to The Philadelphia Investigator.

The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, DHS and other federal agencies launched an investigation into Camara in July of last year. He was not the first suspected former Liberian war criminal to be investigated on charges of immigration fraud.

In 2017, Mohammed Jabbateh, also known as “Jungle Jabbateh”, was found guilty of obtaining false immigration documents. He was a notorious warlord accused of atrocities committed during the First Liberian Civil War. Jabbateh, who also lived in Pennsylvania, was later sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Liberia’s first civil war, from 1989 to 1997, left hundreds of thousands dead, many of them civilians. Forces led by Charles Taylor executed former Liberian President Samuel Doe in 1990, before going on to fight for control of the country in a battle with several other rebel groups. The war ended when Taylor was elected president of Liberia in 1997.

Rebel groups waging Civil War II hoped to depose Taylor, who resigned from office in August 2003 just before a peace deal ended the war. Taylor was later convicted by an international criminal court of multiple war crimes and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Newsweek contacted DHS and the Liberian Embassy in Washington, DC, for comment.


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