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

Blood from Stones

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Why Gaddafi is so Afraid of Charles Taylor
It is interesting to see that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is slamming Nigeria for turning Charles Taylor over to face justice. News reports quote Gadaffi as saying such a move sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of Africa.

"This also means that every (African) head of state could meet a similar fate -- this sets a serious precedent," he said. Indeed it does. If one butcher goes down, others may follow. For Gaddafi, that must be a terrifying prospect, as well as for many others.

Gadaffi, more than any other leader except perhaps Blaise Campoare in Burkina Faso, has good reason to fear Taylor's testimony. It was Gaddafi who trained not only Taylor and his thugs for Liberia, but also Foday Sankoh and other leaders of the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone, Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Campaore's troops who assassinated president Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso, and on and on.

But it was not just the training Gaddafi provided. He provided the tons of weapons and ammuniton that stoked the wars that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and destroyed most of an entire sub-region that is still reeling from his ego-driven destruction.

He established the World Revolutionary Headquarters in the desert where he trained would-be revolutionaries from Latin America, Africa and Asia. The facilities were, in the words of Prof. Stephen Ellis, "the Harvard and Yale of a whole generation of African revolutionaries."

Gaddafi continued his support of Taylor, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, when Taylor's forces were at their most vicious. Taylor would fly to meet with Gaddafi or other senior Libyan leaders two or three times a month, right through the war and his own 1997 election as president.

One of the great shortcomings of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, in my opinion, was that Gaddafi was not indicted along with Taylor on charges of crimes against humanity. They would have been fine cellmates. The Court argued that its mandate was to try those most responsible for atrocities after Taylor's 1997 election, and that, by then, Gaddafi no longer fit the criteria.

Washington's decision to take Gaddafi off the list of terrorist sponsors is also hard to understand given his continuing mischief in Africa, from Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea.

Perhaps these are legally correct interpretations of the law, but it seems to me both let Gaddafi off too lightly for his role in massive crimes against humanity. It is nice, however, to see him scared enough to defend the indefensible.

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