In 1997, after a civil war and years of political upheaval, Charles Taylor was elected president of the West African nation of Liberia. In 1999, Liberia’s second civil war began. Primarily, two rebel groups, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), waged war against Taylor’s government. LURD’s stated objective was to remove Taylor from the presidency of Liberia. Liberia’s second civil war, much like its first, was characterized by brutality, war crimes, and atrocities, many of which were perpetrated by LURD rebels. Furthermore, in waging its war against Taylor’s government, LURD recruited and used child soldiers. According to the Indictment, Camara was a LURD general.
The Indictment alleges that in June 2011, Camara submitted an application for a non-immigrant visa to the United States. In that application Camara falsely contended, among other things, that he: 1) was not a member of a tribe; 2) had never served in or been a member of a rebel group or insurgent organization; and 3) had never committed, ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in political killings or other acts of violence. Camara’s application was approved and he was issued a non-immigrant visa which he used to enter the United States.
The Indictment further alleges that in June 2012, United States immigration authorities reviewed an application that Camara submitted for a United States immigrant visa. In this application, Camara falsely contended, among other things, that he: 1) was not seeking and had not sought a visa, entry into the United States, or any immigration benefit by fraud or misrepresentation; and 2) had never engaged in the recruitment or use of child soldiers. Camara’s application was approved and he was issued an immigrant visa which he used to enter the United States.
Upon his entering and being admitted to the United States pursuant to his immigrant visa, Camara became entitled to, and did, receive a Green Card, evidencing his authorized permanent residence in the United States.
Finally, as alleged in the Indictment, in June 2017, in seeking a Pennsylvania state identification card, Camara presented his fraudulently obtained Green Card to PennDOT officials as evidence of his immigration status, that is, his lawful permanent residence in the United States.
“As alleged in the Indictment, this defendant attempted to evade accountability for his horrific involvement in Liberia’s brutual civil wars by fraudulently obtaining U.S. immigration documents,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Due to the hard work and perseverance of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners, he can no longer run and hide from justice.”
“HSI is committed to upholding the law, both within the United States and abroad,” said William S. Walker, Special Agent in Charge of the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Philadelphia Field Office. “The defendant in this case, Mr. Camara, is alleged to have served as a high-ranking general for a rebel group that fought in the Second Liberian Civil War, all the while employing tactics of unimaginable brutality, including the recruitment of child soldiers. This indictment alleges Mr. Camara then attempted to shield his violent past when he came to the United States by failing to disclose his affiliation with the rebel group. Investigations like this one are a chief priority of the No Safe Haven mission, and HSI will continue to work tirelessly to investigate those who attempt to evade justice for crimes they committed overseas. We will not allow the United States to be a safe haven for those attempting to hide from their past.”
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Linwood C. Wright, Jr. and Kelly M. Harrell, with assistance from Trial Attorney Chelsea Schinnour and Historian Christopher Hayden from the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division’s, Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the HSI tip line at: 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.