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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Liberian National Found Guilty of Immigration Fraud and Perjury

PHILADELPHIA –Mohammed Jabbateh, a/k/a “Jungle Jabbah,”51, a citizen of Liberia residing in East Lansdowne, PA, was found guilty of two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury, announced Acting United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen and Special Agent-in-Charge Marlon Miller, Homeland Security Investigations. 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 of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) and later ULIMO-K, rebel groups that battled for control of Liberia. Jabbateh was a battalion commander in ULIMO and ULIMO-K.

In January of 1999, during the asylum seeking process, Jabbateh was interviewed by a United States asylum officer for purposes of determining whether his application should be granted. To this end, he jury heard evidence 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 these and other questions posed on his Form I-589 asylum application and his answers to questions posed during his asylum application interview, received asylum.

Later, 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?” and

“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?”

The jury found that the defendant knew his answers to these two questions were 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.

During the course of two weeks of testimony from over two dozen witnesses that included 17 Liberian victims and eyewitnesses, the jury heard evidence that Jabbateh, as a ULIMO commander from approximately 1992 through 1995, either personally committed, or ordered ULIMO fighters 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 ritual consumption of human flesh, including human hearts; and 10) the killing persons because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion.

“Jabbateh sought to escape to the United States and start anew, where he lied about his extensive and horrific criminal background on federal immigration forms and to the faces of U.S. immigration officers,” said Acting United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen. “Jabbateh committed atrocities in Liberia that ravaged communities in ways that will be felt for generations.  This office has rarely if ever seen such an abuse of our immigration process, and we are incredibly proud of the efforts of law enforcement and the victim witnesses who helped bring this man to justice.  We thank the jury for its just and proper verdict of guilty on all counts.”

"The United States will not be a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of HSI’s Philadelphia office. “Today’s verdict will help bring justice to the victims of Mr. Jabbateh's atrocities, for having survived the suffering he inflicted during the Liberian Civil War.  HSI will continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that those who have committed such acts abroad never evade justice and accountability for their crimes by hiding among their victims in the United States.”

 

At sentencing, 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. and Nelson S.T. Thayer, Jr.

Topic(s): 
Immigration
Updated October 18, 2017