Saturday, February 25, 2017

Martina Johnson, War Criminal - “Operation Octopus,” Liberia, 1992


Belgian police arrested Martina Johnson in Ghent on September 17, 2014. She is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the First Liberian Civil War (1989-1997). The arrest resulted from a 2012 complaint – which focused heavily on Operation Octopus – made against Johnson filed in Belgium by Liberian victims.

Included in these crimes specifically those which occurred on October 20 and 23 during the 120-day long “Operation Octopus”

Martina Johnson was identified as one of the leaders of Operation Octopus, launched on October 15, 1992 by the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) headed by ex-president Charles Ghankay Taylor, “a brutal battle for Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia, in 1992 that killed thousands and saw extensive rapes and looting by the NPFL’s Small Boys Unit.”

According to Barbie Latza Nadeau, of The Daily Beast, “The nuns were allegedly murdered under the sinister direction of Martina Johnson, one of Taylor’s only female artillery chiefs and a frontline commander who allegedly carried out many of his hits during Operation Octopus.”

Among the war crimes were the assassinations of five American nuns which took place October 20 and 23, 1992:

Oct. 20, 1992 – “Sister Barbara Muttra and Sister Mary Joel Kolmer were shot in their vehicles along with a Liberian colleague and two relief workers, apparently as part of the Operation’s agenda to rid Liberia of whites and those who worked with them.”

Oct. 23, 1992 – “fighters came to the convent where the remaining sisters lived and first attacked Sister Kathleen McGuire when she was summoned to unlock the gate by a killer identified as Mosquito, who shot her first and then shot the other two before mutilating their bodies with a machete.”

The bodies of the murdered nuns were only discovered a month later, after the fighting had lulled.

She is only the second person to be charged for crimes relating to the country’s two civil wars that spanned 14 years. In 2012 Charles Taylor, at the age of 64, was convicted some of the “most heinous and brutal crimes in human history” and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

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EXCERPT: Massacre in Margibi – Summary Execution at Horton’s Farm, Kakata, Margibi County in October 1992: Martina Johnson, NPFL artillery commander ordered the execution of 23 persons arrested in Bong Mines as suspected fighters of ULIMO. Massacre at Firestone plantation, Margibi county on December 26, 1992: Joseph Zackor, alias “Gen. Zack”, Nixon Gayor, Francis Duanna and men assigned with them massacred 35 persons at the Firestone Plantations, division No. 31 while escaping the ULIMO incursion in Kakata. [Josephus M. Gray, “Let Justice Prevail In the Spirit of TRC Not Amnesty,” Front Page Africa, Oct. (?) 2015]

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SOURCES

Patric Foryoh, “Belgium arrests Liberian ex-rebel commander,” The On Line Salone Report, Sep. 19, 2014.
Barbie Latza Nadeau, “Caught: Female Assassin Who Allegedly Murdered Five American Nuns,” The Daily Beast, Sep. 22, 2014.

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