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Press Release

Immigration Charges Unsealed Against Liberian National

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – An indictment was unsealed today charging Mohammed Jabbateh, 49, a citizen of Liberia residing in East Lansdowne, PA, with immigration fraud and perjury, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger and Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Jack Staton, Homeland Security Investigations. Jabbateh, a/k/a “Jungle Jabbah,” is charged with two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury.

According to the indictment, in December of 1998, when making application for asylum and later for permanent legal residency, the defendant was not truthful about his activities during Liberia’s first civil war while he was a member of The United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO) and later ULIMO-K, a rebel group that battled for control of Liberia. Jabbateh was a commander or higher ranking officer in ULIMO and ULIMO-K. According to the indictment, Jabbateh, during his overall time as a ULIMO commander or higher ranking officer, either personally committed, or ordered ULIMO troops under his command to commit the following nonexclusive list of acts: 1) the murder of civilian noncombatants; 2) the sexual enslavement of women; 3) the public raping of women; 4) the maiming of civilian noncombatants; 5) the torturing of civilian noncombatants 6) the enslavement of civilian noncombatants; 7) the conscription of child soldiers; 8) the execution of prisoners of war; 9) the desecration and mutilation of corpses; and 10) the killing persons because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion.

In January of 1999, during the asylum seeking process, Jabbateh was interviewed by an immigration asylum officer for purposes of determining whether his application should be granted. To this end, it is alleged that Jabbateh falsely responded "no" to the following two queries: 1) "[H]ave you ever committed a crime?"; and 2) "[H]ave you ever harmed anyone else?" On or about December 23, 1999, Jabbateh, largely based upon his answers to questions posed on his Form I-589 asylum application and his answers to questions posed during his asylum application interview, received asylum.

It is alleged that when Jabbateh applied for legal permanent residency by filing a Form I-485 with United States immigration authorities, he falsely responded "No" to the following two questions:

     Have you ever engaged in genocide, or otherwise ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the killing of any person because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion?

     Are you under a final order of civil penalty for violating section 274C of the Immigration and Nationality Act for use of fraudulent documents or have you, by fraud or willful misrepresentation of a material fact, ever sought to procure, procured, or procured, a visa, other documentation, or entry into the U.S. or any immigration benefit?

According to the indictment, the defendant knew his answer was false in that he had ordered, incited, assisted, and otherwise participated in the killing of any person because of religion, nationality, ethnic origin, and political opinion; and knew that he had procured asylum in the United States by fraud and willful misrepresentation of material fact.

“This defendant allegedly committed unspeakable crimes in his home country, brutalizing numerous innocent victims,” said Memeger. “He then sought to escape to the United States where he lied about his criminal background on federal immigration forms. This office will use whatever tools are available to bring to justice serious criminals who abuse our immigration process by concealing their background and history.”

“The United States has always welcomed refugees and those fleeing oppression, but we will not be a safe haven for alleged human rights violators and war criminals,” said Staton.

If convicted, Jabbateh faces a maximum possible sentence of 30 years in prison, a possible fine, a $400 special assessment, and a period of supervised release.

The case was investigated by U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Linwood C. Wright, Jr.

To support the victims in this case and others in the community that may have been victimized by Jabbateh but have not yet reported, Homeland Security Investigations has established a Victim Assistance Hotline.  Impacted individuals are encouraged to call (215) 717-4987 to speak with a Victim Assistance Specialist.


An Indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated April 13, 2016