FORMER JAMMEH CLOSE CONFIDANT SAYS DEYDA HYDARA WAS MURDERED BY PRESIDENT YAHYA JAMMEH!
By Pa Nderry M’Bai
For the first time since the murder of Gambia’s leading journalist Deyda Hydara, a former close confidant of President Yahya Jammeh is coming on record to shed light on the journalist’s murder. Army Lance Corporal Musa Sarr, a former member of President Jammeh’s Special Forces Unit stationed in Kanilai, said he was informed by his colleagues, who are members of Mr. Jammeh’s assassin team that the President personally ordered for the killing of Mr. Hydara in December of 2004.
Mr. Sarr is on exile in neighboring Senegal, where he spoke to Freedom Radio on Monday, for over an hour long interview exposing the secret killings perpetrated under dictator Jammeh’s eighteen years rule. Mr. Sarr spoke eloquently and confidently on a wide range of unresolved murders that occurred during dictator Jammeh’s watch.
Mr. Sarr’s job in Kanilai was to patrol the Gambia/Senegalese border. He said he was not part of the assassin team formed by the President Yahya Jammeh, but was privy to the activities of the group. He had a cordial working relationship with the assassin team headed by Major Sanna Manjang. RSM Malick Jatta, another relegated member of the assassin team was his close buddy in the army. Sarr and Jatta normally hangout, exercise together, and in some occasions he will spend the weekend with Malick Jatta at his native village Tujereng. Mr. Jatta being a central figure in Jammeh’s alleged assassin team avails him with the opportunity to know a lot about the activities of the unit.
Mr. Sarr was informed by one O2 Modou Jarju, alias Rambo, a member of President Jammeh’s assassin team about the soldiers behind journalist Hydara’s murder. Mr. Modou Jarju is a native of Kombo Brikama. Sarr said Jarju informed him that his own cousin the late Staff Sergeant Malafi Corr, Colonel Kawsu Camara, Malick Jatta, Sanna Manjang, Borra Colley, Jarju himself and others murdered Mr. Hydara. He said Modou Jarju drove a black pickup vehicle on the night of Hydara’s murder. Jarju was under the company of his late cousin Malafi Corr when Hydara was ambushed and killed.
Mr. Sarr, a native of Nuimi, was shocked to learn that his cousin Malifi Corr participated in the murder of Hydara. Corr, he said, was executed back in March of 2006; alongside with Gambia’s former spy chief Daba Marena, Lieutenant Ebou Lowe, RSM Alpha Bah, and co, following an abortive coup led by the erstwhile CDS Colonel Ndure Cham.
Musa Sarr’s life began to change dramatically shortly he learned about the massacre of his cousin. He was admitted in hospital when men led by Sanna Manjang, Malick Jatta and others killed Malafi Corr, Daba Marena and others.
The government of Yahya Jammeh had earlier claimed in a press release that Corr and others escaped while being escorted to a jailhouse in Janjangbureh. But Musa Sarr said the regime’s story on the fate of the detainees was a fat lie. He said Sanna Manjang, the leader of the assassin team and his friend Malick Jatta told him that Malafi Corr and co were brutally massacred. Initial attempts to kill Mr. Corr through close range gunshot failed. The assassin team resorted to massacring him, Mr. Sarr tells the Freedom Newspaper.
Mr. Sarr went on to explain an encounter he had with Solo Bojang, another member of the President’s assassin team. “While stationed in Kanilai, the President’s home village, my job was to patrol the Casamance/Gambia border. I remember opening fire at Solo Bojang after he ran a stop sign while we were on duty. We ordered him to stop and he refused to stop. I then open fire at him. At the time, I was very mad at the system because of the brutal murder of my cousin Malafu Corr. He was executed by Sanna Manjang and his group. I was told that Mr. Corr, Daba Marena and co were gruesomely murdered,” said Musa Sarr, who fled the Gambia after he was involved in a car wreck that killed some passengers.
Sarr said he was on his way to Tujereng to deliver a consignment of marijuana on behalf of his boss Sanna Manjang to one of Manjang’s drug clients, when he was involved in a car wreck. He said Manjang is in the business of supplying MFDC rebels with arms in exchange for marijuana. He recalled an instance in which Mr. Manjang had stolen a rocket launcher from the Kanilai armory and traded it to the MFDC rebels led by Salifu Sarjo for cannabis. He said Majang had close ties with the rebels.
During their patrols along the border, Manjang will ask them to wait for him and he Manjang will drive to the rebel camp to buy cannabis from the MFDC rebels. Mr. Sarr said the MFDC is using the Gambia as a safe haven to wage havoc in neighboring Senegal.
“There was this operation in which we arrested about thirty five rebels who sought refuge in the Gambia after waging a brutal attack against the Senegalese forces and communities, only to be instructed by the President to free the rebels. He asked us to escort the rebels back to the border. We caught rebels driving a Gambian vehicle, bearing the country’s registration number, and insurance, in Sebanorr, guess what? After the men were processed and handed to the NIA, the President ordered for their release. Rebels organized baby naming ceremony in the Fonis. I mean inside the Gambia. It reached a time that we thought that it is a waste of time arresting the MFDC rebels since they got the President’s back. We waived at them each time we spotted them within the Gambian territory,” Sarr said. Mr. Sarr also said he met the leader of the MFDC Salifu Sarjo in Kanilai while Sarjo was there to meet with the President. Sarr said as long as Jammeh is the President of the Gambia it would be difficult to end the Casamance rebellion. He accuses Jammeh of backing the rebels.
Narrating how President Jammeh uses the assassin team to kill perceived Gambian political opponents and suspected witches, Sarr said while in Kanilai, a word came in that the President ordered the assassin team to murder one Mr. Ceesay of Bujulu village. Mr. Ceesay works as a watchman in one of the schools in his locality. Solo Bojang was assigned to look for Ceesay in the school with the possibilities of abducting and killing him.
The President, he said, made them to believe that Ceesay was going to be next leader of witches in the Gambia. He ordered the assassin team to kill Ceesay, he said.
“Solo Bojang led that operation. Mr. Ceesay was strangulated to death after the assassin team tied a rope on his neck,” Sarr alleged. Over one thousand suspected Gambian witches were arrested and forced to drink poisonous liquids in that incident. The suspected witches were blamed for the death of the President’s aunty. Many died due to poison related illnesses.
Mr. Sarr said Major Sanna Manjang, and other members of the assassin team led a team of Guinean witch hunters hired by the President to force suspected witches and wizards to drink spiritual liquids, which resulted in the death of some of the detainees. He said some of the suspected female witches were allegedly raped by Manjang and his group.
“Based on what I saw, Manjang and his group stripped off the women naked and started administering the spiritual spell on them. Some of the women were given the option to have sex with Manjang and his group or risked being forced to drink the poisonous liquid. I found packets of condoms scattered in the area in Kanilai, where the female detainees were being processed by Manjang and his group. Male folks were also stripped off naked,” he said.
Mr. Sarr also commented on the killing of the forty Ghanaians in the Gambia. He said his friend Malick Jatta told him that the President ordered them to kill the Ghanaians, who were mistaken as mercenaries back in July of 2005. He said Mr. Jatta also informed him that General Borra Colley nearly messes up the operation, as one of the Ghanaian detainees attempted to escape while being escorted to the execution site. The Ghanaian was later apprehended, he said.
According to Sarr, there is a division among Jammeh’s assassination team. Malick Jatta, for example, had complained to him of being unfairly “rewarded” by the President—despite executing numerous assassination missions on behalf of the President. Malick Jatta was not happy that Sanna Manjang was promoted ahead of him to the rank of Captain, and later Major. He said Jatta repeatedly cursed out Manjang in his presence, and lamented about his inexperience in carrying out killing missions. Malick Jatta has since left the assassin team. He now works at the State House as a Regimental Sergeant Major, Sarr said.
The former head of the assassin team Colonel Kawsu Camara too was also undermined by Sollo Bojang. Sarr said since Bombaredeh is not a Jolla, Sollo Bojang saw it as an opportunity to undermine him. He said Bombaredeh had carried out many assassination missions on behalf of the President, but that did not stop Jammeh from jailing him. He said Bombaredeh personally told him that Sollo Bojang blocked his promotion when he was recommended to be promoted.
Regarding his working relation with Jammeh, Sarr said the President occasionally teased him because he is a Sierre. He said Jammeh onetime confronted him asking why he never smile at him during his late evening conversations with the assassin team. He told the President that he was there to do a work, and that he takes his job very seriously. He said Jammeh always wanted to maintain an eye contact with him each time he met the President.
Mr. Sarr said the assassin team is usually “wasted” (dead drunken) before embarking on the secret assassinations. He said one Alieu Jeng, a member of the assassin team nearly went mad after the massacre of the Ghanaians. He said when Sanna Manjang, Malick Jatta, and co are drunk they talked about people they assassinated on behalf of the President. The group is directly answerable to the President Yahya Jammeh, he said. He said the Army Chief of Staff has no authority, or control over the assassin team. The group only takes orders from Jammeh and no one else, he added. It is a widely feared group, Mr. Sarr tells the Freedom Newspaper.
Sarr said the late Sergeant Ello Gina Jallow, and Mustapha Colley were killed by Manjang and his group. He said Mr. Jammeh worships idols and is in the business of sacrificing human beings. He said he was informed that Ello Jallow was murdered, following allegations that he was sleeping with the President’s wife.
Mr. Sarr is a trained Commando. He was trained by the Iranians who were stationed in the Gambia to help train Jammeh’s guards. He said the Iranians supplied arms to President Jammeh on numerous occasions. He talked about an underground armory built in Kanilai opposite the President’s room by the Iranians. The armory is equipped with dangerous weapons, he said.
Mr. Sarr said the 13 container arms shipment that was intercepted in Nigeria by Custom officials belongs to President Jammeh. He said this was not the first time that President Jammeh has been importing arms from Iran.
“I have witnessed Iranian arms being transported into Kanilai. The Iranians trained me in Kanilai. I received a Commando certificate from the Iranian team, who were in the country to train us. If the President is telling the world that he never imported arms from Iran, that is a lie. He is not telling the truth. Almost all the arms in that armory in Kanilai came from Iran,” Sarr said.
Mr. Sarr said he needs support to wage a guerilla warfare against Jammeh’s regime. He added that dictator Jammeh must be stopped before he further destroy the Gambia and her people. He said Jammeh’s senseless killing of innocent Gambians got to be stopped. “If it is bravery, he is not braver than us. He is not man enough than us. I am ready to put my life on the line to bail out Gambia from Jammeh’s terror,” he said.