By Alex Rose, Delaware County Daily Times
PHILADELPHIA >> A suspected Liberian war criminal currently residing in East Lansdowne who was arrested early this year trial is expected on October 2, 2017 to answer to charges that he fraudulently sought asylum and permanent residency in the United States after committing atrocities in Africa.
Mohammed Jabbateh, 49, also known as “Jungle Jabbah,” is charged with two counts each of fraud in immigration documents and perjury under a federal indictment filed last year in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Federal prosecutors claim Jabbateh was a high ranking member of the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia in the 1990s during that country’s first civil war, and later the ULIMO-K, a splinter group that battled with other former ULIMO forces over control of the West African nation.
Jabbateh is accused of either personally committing or ordering others under him to commit murder, torture and enslavement of civilian noncombatants, as well as the public rape and sexual enslavement of women, conscription of children, execution of prisoners of war, mutilation of corpses and killings motivated by race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion.
“This defendant allegedly committed unspeakable crimes in his home country, brutalizing numerous innocent victims,” said former U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger in a press release announcing the charges last year. “He then sought to escape to the United States where he lied about his criminal background on federal immigration forms.”
Jabbateh was interviewed by an immigration asylum officer in January 1999 and answered “no” to questions of whether he had ever committed a crime or harmed anyone else, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said he was granted asylum in December 1999 based largely on those answers and answers he provided on an asylum application.
Jabbateh applied for legal permanent residency in 2002 and answered “no” to questions that he ever ordered or participated in genocide because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion. He also said he had never fraudulently sought to procure a visa or other immigration benefit.
The indictment claims Jabbateh knew both of those answers were false and that he later certified them under oath to an immigration officer during a March 2011 interview.
If convicted, Jabbateh faces up to 30 years in prison, a possible fine and supervised release.
“The United States has always welcomed refugees and those fleeing oppression, but we will not be a safe haven for alleged human rights violators and war criminals,” said Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Jack Staton in the release last year.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Linwood C. Wright, Jr. Homeland Security Investigations is encouraging anyone impacted by Jabbateh’s alleged crimes to speak with a victim assistance specialist at 215-717-4987.