Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

Finally, Taylor In Hand
In an incredible stroke of luck, Nigerian policemen arrested fugitive Charles Taylor as he tried to cross by land into Cameroon. According to eyewitness accounts, he was wearing a white safari suit, driving a Landrover with diplomatic plates and had bags full of dollars in the trunk. He made it through the immigration check point, but was stopped when trying to get through customs.

He was flown to Abuja, Nigeria, then put on a presidential jet to Roberts Field, Liberia. From there he should be flown to Freetown, Sierra Leone, where his cell is awaiting him, along with some of his cohorts in the murder and mayhem that he wreaked.

The arrest does not mitigate the gross negligence on the part of the Obasanjo government in letting Taylor operate with impunity from his estate in Calabar while in exile and then allowing him to escape. While Taylor's arrest may have salvaged Obasanjo's visit today with President Bush, it should not preclude a reevaluation of the close and dependent relationship the United States has developed with Nigeria's president, who has shown himself to be little better than his reviled predecessors who were international pariahs.

What has complicated the issue for Obasanjo, if one wants to give him the benefit of the doubt, which I am not sure he deserves, is that Taylor's financial power allowed him to ally himself with many of the most powerful and corrupt in Nigeria, including senior members of the government and perhaps even members of Obasanjo's own family.

Taylor's arrest may open the way for Obasanjo to begin cleaning house and take down some of the structures Taylor is participating in, including the widespread "bunkering" or theft of oil before it enters the official state system. But the ongoing, warm U.S. relationship with Obasanjo should be contingent on Obasanjo's willingness to tackle the entire corrupt structure that has choked the life from one of Africa's potentially most vibrant economies.

It is a good day for West Africa and those seeking to end the impunity that has ravaged the region for generations. It is a good day particularly for the thousands of victims of Taylor's wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea. The amputee victims, the rape victims and the child soldiers may now have at least a small measure of closure when the architect of their misery finally faces justice.
Taylor is in Custody in Sierra Leone, Will be Taken to The Hague
Pressure Mounts on Bush to Cancel Visit with Obasanjo
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