Charlie Is Afraid Of His Own Shadow
By Edward D. Kollie, Jr.
August 16, 2002
The NEWS newspaper in Liberia reported a story that was posted to the web on July 23, 2002 under the title “Taylor Discloses Assassination Plot”. I read the story from the allAfrica.com web page and even though I was tempted to quickly react (in writing), I thought I should wait to see how others would react to the news story. However, I have not read one article written about this issue. So I thought I should express my thoughts about the ridiculous statements the Liberian thief, tyrant and murderer made.
The newspaper reported that Taylor said there was a plan in progress to assassinate him by attacking his convoy. Quoting the Liberian dictator, the NEWS said Charles Taylor disclosed that "...it is far in the making, but we have gone far ignoring it and they are in the rush to try to do something about it, but I [Taylor] am waiting for them." The newspaper further quoted the Liberian ruler as saying “We also know that people are desperate; kill Taylor and then is all over….not knowing there are 5 million Taylors in this country, but God will not support it to be so, because they do not understand the consequences of such hateful thinking.”
This evil pariah, whose hands are stained with the blood of innocent little boys and girls as well as elderly men and women from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, would so recklessly invoke the name of God Almighty is in itself an abomination.
Just to set the record straight, even at the height of Liberia's "glory" (well before Charles Taylor came on the scene and messed everything up), the country’s population was estimated at just over 3 million. More than 250,000 Liberians are said to have lost their lives during the 1989 to 1996 civil war that Taylor started. Additionally, the United Nations and international aid organizations estimate that there are more than a million Liberian refugees living in Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana and other parts of the world. So the Liberian dictator's claim that there are more than “5 million Taylors in this country” either was a very silly hyperbole, an extremely stupid bluff or a bold face lie. No matter which one it was, one thing is certain: this is very much Charles Taylor-like. The man is a shameless liar and thief! Now let us move on to more pressing issues.
Taylor is said to have made those and other delusional statements during a press conference at the Executive Mansion. We are told that he called the press conference to explain why he did not go to Durban (South Africa) to attend the African Union conference. I am inclined to think that the reason nobody took up this story any further is that the whole world has come to know the Liberian despot to be a pathological liar and a man without any conscience. But there are many things in Taylor’s assertions that are so revealing of his personality and mental diminution that it behooves us to take a critical look at this matter. And by the way, if such a plot is ever made, it will probably materialize before the Liberian dictator and his collaborators have time to talk about it. I was inclined to recommend that Charles Taylor ask Samuel K. Doe, Laurant Kabila and Jonas Savimbi if they knew about the plots that brought them down, tumbling like ten-ton rocks. But that would be a little insensitive of me, knowing that these former dictators and tyrants are all dead. A more careful analysis of Taylor’s shameless claim of a plot to assassinate him will unearth the real reasons he made such claim in the first place. So let’s look at some of the hidden reasons for Taylor’s insane claim of an assassination plot.
A Ploy to Further Oppress and Steal
The spurious charge by Taylor that he knows of a plan under which people will be brought into the country [Liberia] to kill him was just something designed to obscure his real motive: to continue his brutal oppression of those who oppose and dare to speak against his morally, economically and politically bankrupt policies that have brought Liberia to a level of disgrace and ridicule never before known in that part of Africa. At that same press conference, the Liberian pirate said he would continue the cordon and search operation already in force. His unaccountable former National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) child soldiers and remnants of the notorious and disgraced Revolutionary United Front (RUF) were already carrying out the operation in Monrovia before the announcement of the assassination plot. This gave Taylor an alibi to continue to harass the already severely devastated people of the decaying city. It also means that his so-called Anti-Terrorist (ATU) (correctly referred to as Actual Terrorist Unit), made up of former RUF rebels, and other murderous paramilitary groups will continue to encircle the homes of innocent defenseless citizens at night. The ATU and other security thugs are given an additional cover to continue to rape girls as young as seven (7) years old and sodomize unsuspecting little boys and elderly men. In the process and to add insult to injury, they will continue to spread the HIV/AIDS burden. They will also continue to loot and steal the meager possessions of those who fall victim to Taylor's mindless brutality in and around Monrovia. Innocent men, women and children will be taken to secret places, tortured and killed.
And the Liberian ruler is making good on his promise. The most recent victim of this totalitarian’s modern day barbarism is noted economist Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh. Dr. Tipoteh’s home was searched without a warrant and apparently in his and his family’s absence. It is worth pointing out that many Liberians, much less well known, have been subjected to worst emotional and physical harassment by Charles Taylor’s brutal and oppressive terrorist regime. There are newspaper accounts of people being taken out of their homes at night by Taylor’s henchmen never to be seen again. There is documented evidence of widespread ethnic cleansing activities against Liberians of the Krahn and Mandingo ethnic groups.
An Attempt to Gain Sympathy and Glorify Himself
The democratic world has isolated Charles Taylor, mainly has a result of his barbaric adventures into Sierra Leone, which left thousands of that country’s citizens dead or limbless. His brutality and thieving behavior against the people of Liberia have severely alienated him from the citizenry. The once proud Liberian people have been reduced to mere beggars, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in various parts of the world. Better than ninety-eight percent of the country’s school age population does not attend school because schools in the country have been looted, ransacked and/or burned down by Taylor’s thugs. Unemployment among ordinary Liberians exceeds 85%. There is an acute lack of medical facilities, medicine and medical practitioners in the country, resulting in a situation where people (mainly babies, young children and the elderly) continue to die of such easily treatable diseases as malaria, cold, diarrhea, etc. Monrovia, the capital, is a decaying city with no electricity, pipe-borne water and working sewer system for the majority of the city’s inhabitants. Corruption, nepotism and the pilferage of public resources under Taylor’s rulership continue unabated. There is an unprecedented disregard for the rule of law in the country. The demented Liberian ruler has created in the country what has been referred to by a prominent United States legislator as “Charles Taylor, Inc”. Under this arrangement, the little economic and financial activities that transpire in Liberia are either owned exclusively or controlled entirely by him, his family and friends.
In order to gain the sympathy of the Liberian people and to glorify himself, Charles Taylor felt compelled to come up with this “cock and bull” story. He is a very egocentric person and a power-drunk hoodlum. There is no better evidence of this than his persistent statements: “I am the president of this nation” and "I am the leader of this country and those [ostensibly opposition politicians] who want to come here, have to submit to the authority of my presidency”. In his desire to glorify himself, the man will sink to any level. He will lie, steal and deceive to achieve this goal. The revelation of an assassination plot was also a futile attempt to divert the attention of the Liberian people in particular and the world in general from the massive human suffering he continues to cause in the West African sub-region.
Another Threat to Grab the Presidency
The NEWS newspaper article also quoted the Liberian tyrant as saying the following:
"Liberia would see trouble for an entire quarter of a century. There are sufficient men in this republic now that are on the field, properly decentralized that Liberia would break out in several little states, because there are several people now in the field that are capable of operating on their own for years….that are committed to this revolution, and would see any negative action as an affront to their own beliefs..."
On the subject of "decentralization", we note with great sadness that the Liberian ruler has not only “properly decentralized” his men to wreak havoc in Liberia; he has also thoroughly decentralized misery, despair and hopelessness in Liberia. There is almost no corner of the country that is not reeling from the effects of the murder, rape, looting and physical destruction of personal property caused by his terrorist forces.
On the surface, the statements above seem boastful. They are also totally uncharacteristic of someone who calls himself “the leader” of a nation. It is laughable that he raised the threat of breaking a very tiny nation like Liberia (about 43,000 square miles) into several little states. That is like saying you would break the state of Maryland into several little states, in which case every county in that state becomes a state by itself. Equally laughable but also foolish is his assertion that there are people “that are committed to this revolution, and would see any negative action as an affront to their beliefs”. But in light of who Taylor is and given his mindset and history of unimaginable brutality against completely innocent individuals, we must take these utterances very seriously. This is the same man who threatened to restart the Liberian civil war if he was not voted president during the 1997 special presidential election. We must not underestimate his statements, as these are further evidence that Taylor does not in any way, shape or form intend to release his brutal and destructive grip on Liberia, whether through a peaceful democratic process (like election) or by force (which by seeming destiny, will eventually come). We should be mindful of the fact that there are indeed individuals in Liberia and in other foreign countries who are “committed” to Taylor’s “revolution”.
Who are the individuals who will defend Taylor’s so-called revolution? They are those Liberians and foreign nationals who are using our country’s resources to send their children to expensive private schools abroad, while better than 98 percent of Liberia’s school age children do not go to school because of the absence of schools and educational materials and the lack of teachers in the country. These are the individuals who have the ill-acquired resources to travel abroad for medical attention while ordinary Liberians are suffering from and dying of malaria, cold, diarrhea and HIV/AIDS without access to medical care. While thousands of Liberians go to bed every night hungry and deprived, those who eat abundantly, as a result of Taylor’s theft of the nation’s resources, would be expected to defend the “revolution” to death. The boyfriends and husbands of a handful of women who give birth in expensive hospital maternity wards in Europe and the United States of America, while countless ordinary Liberian women die during pregnancy and child-birth, as a direct result of the horrendous unsanitary conditions and the complete lack of medical facilities and medical personnel, cannot help but resist any attempt to establish a semblance of equanimity in the country. The few individuals who live in luxury, reinforced concrete bunker homes equipped with satellite dishes, electricity, pipe-borne water and a working sewer system will indeed fight to defend Taylor’s “revolution”. The small group of greedy and incompetent public officials as well as armed hoodlums who drive $75,000 bulletproof sports utility and other luxury vehicles in the dilapidated streets of Monrovia will certainly fight tooth and nail to make sure they continue to enjoy special privileges while the masses of the Liberian people languish in dire poverty, misery and disease.
But in the end, the suffering Liberian masses will win. They will win because righteousness and history are on their side. The Liberian people will win because the power that Taylor has acquired through lies, deceit and naked oppressive and brutal force, ultimately, will not withstand the weight of the tears and blood of the thousands of innocent Guineans, Liberians and Sierra Leoneans who have been senselessly tortured and/or murdered in the process. I will not give a list of brutal dictators who thought they were invincible at their height of their glory only to fall mightily. That has been done in sufficient detail here in this space and in many other publications. If a presidential election is held as scheduled for 2003 or at any other time, while the criminal and brutal security arrangements remain as they are in Liberia today, we should not be surprised to hear Taylor and his cohorts raise the threat of breaking out Liberia into “several small states” if he does not win the presidency.
I got my first impression of Charles Taylor during either the later part of 1979 or in early 1980 when he spoke at the end of a one-week conference convened by the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) in Monrovia. I must honestly state that it was a rather positive impression of the man. In that speech Taylor very eloquently referred to the government of then president William Richard Tolbert, Jr. as being corrupt and oppressive. He condemned the brutality of the Tolbert regime against its opponents, as evidenced during the April 14, 1979 rice revolts. Then after the overthrow and assassination of president Tolbert, Taylor became the director of the General Services Agency (GSA) under the People's Redemption Council (PRC) government of Samuel Kanyon Doe. As I observed Charles Taylor during his speech at the MOJA conference and in his capacity as GSA director and subsequently as a deputy minister at the Department of Commerce, Industry and Transportation, I began to see in him a deep sense of dishonesty, arrogance, extreme egotism and an overwhelming greed for power and status.
During his reign as GSA director in the 1980s, a Liberian newspaper reported that Charles Taylor was in the habit of coercing local Lebanese merchants to pay him bribe in order for them to do business with the PRC government through GSA. The newspaper specifically cited a number of cases in which Taylor is said to have received more that $45,000 in bribes from various Lebanese merchants. The PRC government of Samuel K. Doe moved Charles Taylor from GSA and transferred him to the Department of Commerce, Industry and Transportation. Almost around the time of his transfer to Commerce, the PRC government placed a ban on private travel by government officials. The charge was that some government officials were stealing public funds and either personally taking those funds overseas or depositing the money in their private foreign bank accounts via wire transfer. Taylor is said to have circumvented the travel ban by concocting a faceless lie. Information circulating in Monrovia at the time had it that he intentionally poured kerosene or some harsh chemical substance on one of his arms. This produced several tiny abscess-filled blisters after a few days. He then obtained a fraudulent note from a local physician stating that the blisters were possibly cancerous. Taylor presented this note to the PRC government and asked to be allowed to leave Liberia to seek medical attention abroad. This is apparently how Charles Taylor got out of Liberia during the Doe administration. For those who do not know by now, Taylor has always been a crook and a liar. The man knows no shame. He will stoop to any level to achieve his own narrow-minded personal interest. Taylor has no regard for the human dignity and well being of other people.
Through all this period of chaos, ridicule and misery for the Liberian people and the Liberian nation, Taylor has continued to maintain that the sole reason for the country’s social, moral, economic and political decadence is that the international community has failed to give him foreign aid (to further enrich himself, his family and friends). Speaking on the issue of the lack of foreign financial and economic aid for Liberia, Taylor recently referred to the Marshall Plan that helped reconstruct Western Europe after World War II. But Taylor’s deluded mind cannot comprehend the relationship between the continued reckless destruction of human lives and theft of the nation’s resources and the attendant disinterest on the part of democratic foreign governments to give economic and financial aid (and comfort) to a tyrant and despot who is the perpetrator. Sadly, he cannot also see or understand the connection between the social, political and economic instability and turmoil caused by the brutality of his security forces and the concomitant reluctance on the part of foreign investors to do business in Liberia.
Charles Taylor and his gang of spineless men and women also blame the deplorable conditions in the country on the modest sanctions imposed by the United Nations. In their infinite stupidity, they fail to realize that the rest of the world is a whole lot smarter than they know. Any human being with half the brain of a rat knows that the limited sanction regime imposed is intended to prohibit Taylor and his criminal cohorts from stealing diamonds from Sierra Leone and selling them to acquire more weapons that would be used to further destabilize the West African sub-region. The portion of the sanction that restricts international travel by Charles Taylor and his terrorist associates is intended to send a signal to the dictator and his followers that the world will not sit by supinely and let them continue to plunder the region’s resources and murder its inhabitants. It must be pointed out that the targeted sanctions were not imposed on the tyrannical government until May 7, 2001. The horrendous situation in Liberia did not occur after the imposition of the limited sanction regime. The city of Monrovia did not suddenly lose its capacity to provide electricity, pipe-borne water and a working sewer system to its inhabitants after May 7, 2001. Neither did the streets of the city of Monrovia and the highways and by-ways of the country become dilapidated after the United Nations imposed the modest guns-for-blood diamonds sanction and travel ban on government officials. Did the clinics and hospitals suddenly disappear or become rusted structures after May 7, 2001? How many trained medical practitioners and medical facilities existed in Liberia before the sanctions were imposed? If there were clinics and hospitals in the country before May 7, 2001, did they have even some of the most basic medicines on their shelves or in their warehouses? What was the level of unemployment among ordinary Liberians before May 7, 2001? How often did Taylor pay public employee salaries before the sanctions were imposed? We could pose similar questions vis-à-vis education, transportation, government and public safety and security, etc. But we are limited by time and space.
Those who argue that the very limited sanctions imposed on Taylor’s rulership are responsible for the terrible human suffering in the country and sub-region are either hopelessly naïve or seriously dishonest. And it is unfortunate that a few members of the country’s clergy have bought into this dishonesty and lied about the effect of the sanctions on ordinary Liberians. I am reminded of similar lies being told by the racist apartheid regime of South Africa and its supporters when the international community imposed a more far-reaching and comprehensive set of economic, financial and other sanctions on that government to protest the inhuman treatment of non-white South Africans under the evil practice of apartheid. The fact is people were already suffering in Liberia well before the sanctions were imposed, just as it was in South Africa during the hay days of apartheid. The regime of Charles Taylor is using the sanctions as a cover to further oppress and brutalize the citizenry. The Liberian tyrant and his unscrupulous friends are also using the sanctions to further enrich themselves by charging exorbitant prices for even the most basic commodities.
And of course Taylor will tell you that he has the best of intentions for the country and its people. In his mind, “intention” has a bizarre definition. And by his definition of the word, he would tell you that he could remove the head of a chicken by decapitating it but never “intend” to kill the bird. This is the very same man who talks about the need for national reconciliation and lauds his regime for being willing to pursue dialogue to resolve the nation’s troubles, but at the same time imprisons his opponents on spurious charges. He is a baker who praises his own spoiled dough and a two-tongued, faceless liar who speaks about the value of national unity in one voice and contradicts himself in another.
I have said on many occasions that I fervently disagree with those who think or believe Charles Taylor will peacefully abandon power, for example, through a free and fair election. I stand by this position even more strongly so today than ever before. Let us not kid ourselves. Taylor’s primary obsession is with maintaining power at any cost. To him power is everything and any means used to acquire and maintain that power is justified by the fact that he is still in control of the country. The man does not understand that power emanates from the broad masses of those over whom such power is exercised and that by itself power does not confer legitimacy. His mental parochialism, insatiable appetite for raw political power and greed for worldly things severely limit his ability to understand that it is the way in which power is applied and the manner in which that power is used that gives legitimacy to the individual who holds it. Finally, at the heart of all our discussions about the evil that has engulfed Liberia, let us not forget these two cardinal truths: (1) Charles Taylor is not worthy of any honest person’s trust. Anybody who ignores this very vital point and engages this modern day Adolf Hitler in a civil manner, in any form whatsoever, will find out the truth (sooner or later) in a way that might not enable him or her to ever relate that experience to others; and (2) the man has dug himself in so deep a hellish hole that he is now completely consumed by paranoia. As the saying goes in Liberia, Charles Taylor has seen his shadow and he is afraid of it like hell.