30 May 2014

Liberia: 'Never Arrested in U.S. - A.B. Kromah Debunks Social Media Reports

Monrovia — The aftermath of the arrest and indictment in the U.S. of Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, a former prominent figure in Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front appears to have triggered a wave of uncertainty for former players of the Liberian civil war harboring plans of traveling to the United States of America.

On Thursday, online and social media was mired in speculations that Mr. A.B. Kromah, Deputy Police Director for Operations in the Liberia National Police Force had been arrested and detained by U.S. Law Enforcement Authorities on Thursday.

Some reports suggested that Kromah, a former Chief of Staff of the Liberian army under the Dr. Amos Sawyer-led Interim Government of National Unity who was later a liaison between the interim government and the Alhaji Kromah ULIMO-K faction, a rebel faction in the civil war, was being held on immigration violations. He was also go between the United Nations and the ULIMO organization because of his affiliation with Mr. Kromah.

The online TMZ Liberia Magazine reported an unconfirmed report stating that was questioned shortly after disembarking from DL flight #479 from Liberia. "Kromah, who played an active role in the civil war as a member of the ULIMO warring faction, is allegedly being held on immigration violation," the report noted.

But Kromah, speaking to FrontPageAfrica via phone from the U.S. state of New Jersey described the reports as baseless. "There is no iota of truth to those report. In fact, I am just heading to a basketball court to play hoops with my son." The report is false."

Kromah denied being questioned or taken off the Delta flight. The report of Kromah's arrest immediately drew comparison to the recent arrest of Woewiyu, a former defense minister who was denied bail by a U.S. judge, after it was determined he was a flight risk.

Woewiyu served under Taylor in the 1990s, and earlier helped start the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, which mounted a violent campaign to depose Taylor's predecessor, Samuel Doe, the indictment said. He served as the party's defense minister, and later as Taylor's labor minister and as president pro tempore of the senate.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents recently picked up Woewiyu at Newark Airport on his return from Liberia and charged him with lying on his citizenship application by failing to disclose his alleged affiliation with a "violent political group in Liberia."

Woewiyu served as defense minister in Charles Taylor's former rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), during that country's civil war. His immigration lawyer, Raymond Basso, said his client amended his citizenship application to include his participation in the Taylor regime. Woewiyu pleaded not guilty at his detention hearing to all counts against him, including perjury and four counts of fraudulent misrepresentation in immigration applications.

U.S. authorities in Philadelphia have charged him with lying on citizenship papers about his political ties to former Liberian President Taylor. Woewiyu allegedly checked "no" when asked if he had any political affiliations or had ever joined in an attempted coup. Prosecutors said he had flown to and from Liberia 38 times since 2002, sometimes staying for several months.

Woewiyu and his wife are legal permanent residents. They live in Collingdale, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, where Woewiyu, also known as Thomas Smith, works in property investment.

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