Laye Sekou Camara, also known by the alias Dragon Master, has been charged with immigration fraud in the United States. Pool Photo by Win McNamee/UPI | License Photo
May 6 (UPI) -- A Liberian man accused of being a general for a rebel group that attempted to overthrow the West African nation's government has been charged with immigration fraud in the United States.
Laye Sekou Camara, also known by the alias Dragon Master, was charged Thursday with making false claims while applying for a non-immigrant visa in 2011 and an immigrant visa the following year.
If convicted, the 43-year-old Mays Landing, N.J., resident could be sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment and a $ 250,000 fine.
"As alleged in the indictment, this defendant attempted to evade accountability for his horrific involvement in Liberia's brutal civil wars by fraudulently obtaining U.S. immigration documents," U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in a statement.
Camara is accused of being a high-ranking officer of Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, one of two rebel groups that wage civil war against the Liberian government of Charles Taylor starting in 1999.
The war was "characterized by brutality, war crimes and atrocities, many of which were perpetrated by LURD rebels," who also recruited and used child soldiers, the Justice Department said.
The indictment against Camara states he applied for a non-immigrant visa in June 2011 and in doing so falsely stated that he had not been a member of a rebel group and had never committed, ordered, incited or participated in political killings or other acts of violence.
His application was approved and Camara received a visa to enter the United States.
The next year, he applied for a U.S. immigrant visa and is accused of falsely denying that he had not sought entry into the United States by fraud or misrepresentation and that had never engaged in the recruitment or use of child soldiers.
Again, his application was approved.
He is also accused of using his fraudulently obtained Green Card in June 2017 in seeking a Pennsylvania state identification card.
"The defendant in this case, Mr. Camara, is alleged to have served as a high-ranking general for a rebel group that fought in the Second Liberian Civil War, all the while employing tactics of unimaginable brutality, including the recruitment of child soldiers," said William Walker, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia Field Office. "This indictment alleges Mr. Camara then attempted to shield his violent past when he came to the United States by failing to disclose his affiliation with the rebel group.
"We will not allow the United States to be a safe haven for those attempting to hide from their past," he said.
From the late 1980s until the early 2000s, Liberia was subsumed with civil war, with the first starting in 1989 and ending in 1997, resulting in the deaths of some 250,000 people.
Taylor was elected president that year, with the second civil war beginning in 1999 when LURD and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia waged war against the new government.
The second civil war lasted until 2003.