‘Jungle Jabbah’ was accused of cannibalism and other horrors in Liberia. How a U.S. court brought him to justice

By Prue Clarke | The Washington Post |

In October, Mohammed Jabbateh was convicted of immigration fraud and perjury. (Chase Walker/The Washington Post Photo Credit)

PHILADELPHIA — The jury knew her only as Witness 18. The woman, dressed in the colorful traditional garb of rural Liberia from where she had come, said the man on trial was not an entrepreneur living quietly in Southwest Philadelphia, as he claimed. Rather, she told the court, Mohammed Jabbateh was “Jungle Jabbah,” a ruthless militant commander responsible for barbarous war crimes committed decades ago.

In chilling testimony here last fall, the woman, now in her 60s, recounted how Jabbateh had invaded her village in 1991. After killing her brother-in-law by removing his heart, she said, Jabbateh’s fighters did the same to her husband — and then ordered her to cook the organ so they could eat it. “Make yourself strong, ma,” she remembered one of them saying as he urged her to build a fire. “If you don’t do it, he’ll kill us both.”

Jabbateh, 51, was convicted in October, ­not for committing war crimes in Liberia but for lying to investigators in the United States about his violent past and defrauding the U.S. immigration system in the process. He faces up to 30 years in prison, and it is expected that he’ll be deported from the United States eventually. A judge is scheduled to announce Jabbateh’s fate at a hearing Thursday.

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