With an Indictment, Does Justice Loom for Liberia’s Dragon Master?

Young rebels fighters from the Liberians

Young rebel fighters from the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) patrol on Sept. 15, 2002, in Voinjama, Liberia. Once a shadowy rebel force active mainly in northern Liberia, LURD steadily worked toward one goal, the ouster of president Charles Taylor. Photo by Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images.

Justice might soon arrive for the man Liberians call “Dragon Master.”

A federal grand jury indictment unveiled in Philadelphia on Thursday charges Laye Sekou Camara with immigration document fraud, part of what investigators say has been an 11-year attempt to hide his past as a revolutionary general during one of Liberia’s brutal civil wars.

Also known as “K-1,” Camara, 43, faces up to 10 years behind bars, a $250,000 fine, and deportation back to the West African nation that was embroiled in bloodshed between 1999 and 2003.

The Second Liberian Civil War pitted Camara’s LURD — Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy — at times against both guerrillas in the Movement for Democracy in Liberia and government forces loyal to corrupt strongman Charles Taylor.

Tens of thousands of Liberians died in a conflict that became infamous for LURD press-ganging child soldiers, hopping them up on drugs, and unleashing them on the rebel force’s enemies. A member of the Mandingo tribe, Camara wanted to erase that legacy when he applied to enter the US in 2011, authorities say.

Dragon Master

Rebels from Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) celebrate on Aug. 5, 2003, near the Irongate suburb of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. Photo by Georges Gobet/AFP via Getty Images.

Rebels from Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) celebrate on Aug. 5, 2003, near the Irongate suburb of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. AFP photo by Georges Gobet via Getty Images.

“We will not allow the United States to be a safe haven for those attempting to hide from their past,” said William S. Walker, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia Field Office, in a prepared statement released in the wake of the indictment.

Camara’s defense attorney did not respond to messages seeking comment from Coffee or Die Magazine.

According to his indictment, Camara falsified his 2011 temporary non-immigrant visa application to the US by lying about his tribal affiliation, his military service in LURD, and whether he “committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings, political killings, or other acts of violence.”

Once admitted to the US, he applied for a green card, which allows immigrants to reside permanently in this country. There’s a long process to obtaining a green card, and prosecutors say Camara lied throughout it.

One of the questions posed to him was whether he “ever engaged in the recruitment of or the use of child soldiers.”

Dragon Master

A rebel from Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), wearing a Mickey Mouse hat and brandishing a saber, clears the way for a truck on Aug. 5, 2003, in the suburb of Bushrod, near Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by Georges Gobet/AFP via Getty Images.

A rebel from Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) with a Mickey Mouse hat and a saber clears the way for a truck on Aug. 5, 2003, in the suburb of Bushrod, near Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by Georges Gobet /AFP via Getty Images.

His green card was approved in late 2012. Prosecutors say Camara then used his green card to obtain a Pennsylvania state identification card.

Agents arrested him on March 28 in New Jersey, and he was released on a $2,500 bond.

In a prepared statement released Thursday, US Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said Camara “attempted to evade accountability for his horrific involvement in Liberia’s brutal civil wars by fraudulently obtaining US immigration documents. Due to the hard work and perseverance of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners, he can no longer run and hide from justice.”

Read Next: FBI: Russian Oligarch’s $300 Million Luxury Yacht Seized in Fiji

Carl came to Coffee or Die Magazine after stints at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
More from Coffee or Die Magazine
The aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford will spend at least one more day in Virginia.
Ford’s technological glitches included propulsion problems, hinky elevators, and gremlins in the catapults.
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War epic “Apocalypse Now” is one of the most recognizable war movies ever made, yet few fans are familiar with the insane story behind its production.
Get a peek inside the Army’s competition in which the soft skills of interrogation and human intelligence collection meet the hard reality of field tactics.
An Army doctor and her wife, a Johns Hopkins doctor, colluded to try to give high-ranking US officials’ health information to Russia.
The Norwegian military recovered a US Air Force CV-22 Osprey, which had been stranded on a remote island nature reserve since early August, on Tuesday, Sept. 27, with a crane boat.
An Air Force sergeant will face a general court-martial to determine whether he orchestrated an “insider attack” on a US outpost in Syria in April that injured four service members.
Putin’s speech denied the battlefield reality in Ukraine and pushed conspiracy theories about a Western cabal conspired to “destroy” Russia.
Prosecutors failed to prove Seaman Recruit Ryan Mays torched the Bonhomme Richard in 2020.
Hurricane Ian brought torrential rains, high winds, and massive flooding.