Philadelphia, USA - Federal authorities in Philadelphia announced the arrest Wednesday, April 13, 2016 of an East Lansdowne man they described as a Liberian war criminal who is responsible for the murder of noncombatants, sexual enslavement of women and conscription of child soldiers during that Liberia's devastating civil war.
Jabbateh, 49, who allegedly went by the nom de guerre "General Jungle Jabbah," was charged in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia for lying on his immigration forms while seeking asylum and legal residency in the United States nearly two decades ago.
He is at least the second player in the bloody civil conflict that roiled the African nation from 1989 to 2003 to be arrested in the Philadelphia area on similar immigration charges.
Jabbateh "allegedly committed unspeakable crimes in his home country, brutalizing numerous innocent victims," said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger in a statement Wednesday.
"This office will use whatever tools are available to bring to justice serious immigration criminals who abuse our immigration process by concealing their background and history."
Memeger's office described Jabbateh as a top commander in the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO), one of many rebel groups that battled for control of the country in the late 1990's.
Under his command, prosecutors said, fighters carried out brutal and genocidal attacks on other ethnic groups that led to the capture, conscription, torture and slaughter of civilian noncombatants.
The charges filed against him in federal court in Philadelphia stem from two questions that prosecutors say he failed to answer truthfully when applying for political asylum in 1998 and then for legal residency four years later.
The questions are the same for everyone seeking either asylum or permanent residency in the United States. Federal agents targeting war crimes suspects and other international criminals screen applicants to weed out potential suspects.
Philadelphia, Trenton and Minneapolis are known to host dozens of Liberian war criminals who managed to slide through the Liberian refugee population.
Jungle Jabbah becomes the second famous warlord to fall through the Federal immigration web since former NPFL Defense Minister Thomas Woewiyu was nabbed and thrown in Federal jail for what court records showed he lied on his U. S. Residency application.
Thomas Woewiyu is currently awaiting court trial in Philadelphia.
General Jungle Jabbah was first asked whether ever had engaged in genocide or been involved with a political organization that advocated it. The second sought to verify that he had answered all of the other questions truthfully.
Jabbateh admitted he had been a member of ULIMO but did not fully describe his activities with the group, prosecutors said.
He was scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court Wednesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear whether he had retained an attorney.
Jackson Kanneh, Special Reporter