An accused West African war criminal, who allegedly shares responsibility for “a particularly heinous and brutal military campaign” against his Liberian countrymen, has been charged with lying to American officials in a bid to gain U.S. citizenship.
Juncontee Thomas Woewiyu, 68, was arrested Monday by Homeland Security Investigations agents at Newark Liberty International Airport. Woewiyu, also known as Jucontee Thomas Smith, has had legal resident status in the United States since 1972. His most recent residence was in Collingdale, Delaware County, said Zane David Memeger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in a statement.
Woewiyu was living in the United States when he formed the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL) and began to advocate for the ouster of Liberia’s then-dictator, Samuel K. Doe. Later, Woewiyu and others also formed the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) a military organization committed to the violent overthrow of the Doe government. The ACDL provided funding to the NPFL, according to the federal indictment. They also received support from strong man Moammar Gadhafi, who generously supplied NPFL rebels with arms and specialized training in Libya.
In 1990, a splinter group captured and executed Doe. From 1990 to 1994, Woewiyu served as the ACDL’s Minister of Defense. According to the indictment which was unsealed today, the group tortured perceived adversaries and numerous civilians. Girls and women were raped and forced into sex slavery, children were conscripted into the army, and humanitarian aid workers were murdered, according to the indictment.