Photo: Barbara Ann Muttra, Shirley Kolmer, Kathleen McGuire, Agnes Mueller and Mary Joel Kolmer (a cousin to Shirley), five American Catholic nuns killed and burned in Liberia in 1992
The gruesome murder of five American Catholic nuns by the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel forces of Charles Taylor in Liberia in 1992 was barbaric. The NPFL was founded by Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, current president of Liberia, to then unseat the Liberian government at the time to pave the way for her political ambition and quest for Liberia’s presidency. In the process, more than 250,00 people died and a million people fled into refugee camps around the world. To date, Madam Sirleaf has not expressed any remorse even though the dangerous forces of evil she established and financed murdered five Catholic nuns when she ordered Taylor on the BBC radio to “Level Monrovia (the Liberian capital city) flat and we will build it.”
An Investigative Report
NPFL’s Killings of U.S. Catholic Nuns in Liberia; ACDL, NPFL In the Mix
WASHINGTON, DC ––After more than a decade of peace in Liberia with relative stability, there is a growing concern and chat among influential American Catholics regarding the stalled and almost forgotten investigations into the rape and brutal murder of five American nuns known as “The Catholic Sisters” in Liberia in 1992.
The five Catholic Sisters were members of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ convent based in tiny Ruma, Illinois. According to reliable sources, most of them had spent years on missions in Liberia: instructing children, healing the sick, and teaching their faith.
According to ProPublica, a U.S. -based independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative reports with moral force, “Sisters Barbara Ann Muttra, Shirley Kolmer, Kathleen McGuire, Agnes Mueller and Mary Joel Kolmer (a cousin to Shirley) lived, worked and prayed together at a small convent of cinder blocks painted white. It lay just off the main road that runs through Gardnerville, one of Monrovia’s outer suburbs.”
The Catholic Church, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, and Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission all investigated. All came to a similar conclusion: The killers were soldiers in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-founded-ACDL–sponsored NPFL rebel army of Charles Taylor, the Liberian warlord convicted by an international court for crimes against humanity.
Muttra, 69, according to research finding, was the best known. A nurse, she had spent 21 years working in Liberia. Her passion was working with mothers and children. She was a bulldog. She faced down soldiers and tendered care at remote clinics.
Shirley Kolmer, 61, was the leader of the group. She was well known among Monrovia’s upper middle class. Grinning and gap-toothed, the math teacher served as the first female principal of St. Patrick’s High School, an elite all-boys school in a tony neighborhood of Monrovia. McGuire, 54, the newest arrival, taught there, too. She also supervised a local Catholic grammar school.
Mueller, 62, taught local women to read and worked at a nearby health clinic. Joel Kolmer, 58, taught at the grammar school and mentored young Liberians interested in entering the order.
U.S. and British investigators strongly believed that John T. Richardson, the head of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia’s (NPFL) Operation Octopus, it would appear, is suspect, in the larger scheme, for the murder of the five American Catholic nuns who were with the Catholic Church in Liberia.
In an interview with ProPublica, Christopher Vambo, a former lieutenant to Charles Taylor, acknowledged that the brutal 1992 killings of the American Catholic nuns might have happened under his command, but he was quick to point fingers at the financiers and organizers of the NPFL rebel organization. Vambo wants those who organized and financed the NPFL, because they wanted power and wealth, to be held fully responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Like Vambo, several former rebel commanders agreed and said President Charles Taylor may have been a victim of the people who sent and used him but those same people are today considered as “clean” citizens and leaders when Mr. Taylor faces the punishments alone, according to sources.
Like Vambo, several rebel soldiers including child soldiers say it is now time the international community and those primarily concerned about human rights and social justice focus on Liberian officials who organized the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel forces, recruited, trained and armed the fighters.
Classified international security and intelligence report made available to Globe Afrique revealed that the NPFL rebel force was founded and financed by a US-based and an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) registered nonprofit organization called the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (the ACDL).
Detailed information available to Globe Afrique also revealed that Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the chief founder and organizer of the ACDL along with some other prominent Liberians including the late Harry Greaves. Greaves (a U.S. citizen and a former associate vice president for finance at the Washington Post newspaper in Washington, DC, USA), who testified to U.S. federal authorities several months ago in Washington, DC regarding the funding, founding and operations of the ACDL, was murdered in Liberia allegedly under the auspices of the Liberia’s National Security Agency (NSA) with instructions from senior members from the rank and file of the ACDL currently serving as leaders in the Liberian government. The murder of Greaves appears to have been engineered by a fear that he had exposed them and would have served as a ‘key witness’ against them should a tribunal be established.
Globe Afrique has also learned, from unconfirmed sources, that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sworn that she would rather kill herself than face a war crimes court for her association in the Liberian conflict. Her small group of wealthy Liberian supporters and immediate family members hold a similar view.
According to research and witnesses with knowledge of the NPFL’s formation, current Liberia’s president Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf provided the seed money, solicited from donors under false pretense to fund the civic work and democratic activities of the ACDL, but instead the funds were diverted to organize the NPFL, recruit and transport fighters from Liberia into training camps in Libya and Burkina Faso, as well as purchase arms and ammunition. President Sirleaf orally admitted issuing a check of $10,000 dollars to the NPFL in its startup phases.
According to information obtained by Globe Afrique, some of the most concerned American Catholics involved in restarting the investigation into the murders of the nuns include prominent lawyers of the Catholic faith based in New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Illinois, and Kansas City, Missouri. A globally respected and human rights focused Catholic Cardinal who prefers anonymity, for now, is said to have expressed strong interest in pursuing the matter with the Vatican in the coming months.
Among those concerned also include few members of the U.S. Congress, both in the House and the Senate who share the Catholic faith. According to a Congressional Aide, “the fact that those nuns were U.S. citizens should draw the furiousness of all Americans and nothing should be left unturned in uncovering these matters. Those who founded the ACDL should face US laws and President Trump will ensure it happens if this comes to his full attention.”
A New York-based private investigation firm is currently investigating the state and IRS registration, tax exemption status, and other activities of the ACDL when it existed in the United States. Few Analysts say it would be considered a federal crime for those who founded the ACDL and who deceived the IRS in their application regarding the nature of the business they were engaged in.
Derick Pearson, a global security analyst in New York City says, in any case, the ACDL membership may have violated two key rules of U.S. laws. Deception with the IRS and using a US-based and registered nonprofit organization to undermine and violently seek to overthrow a government, it does not matter whether that government was dictatorial or not, is a serious crime. The religious order that the Catholic nuns belong to has not officially commented on any investigations, but sources close to the group say they seem to welcome and embrace the notion.
One of the Catholic lawyers pursuing leads on the case says one of those implicated by numerous reports in the killings of the nuns is Christopher Vambo, a former Taylor commander who used the nom-de-guerre General Mosquito. According to U.S. intelligence, Christopher Vambo may not have been the one that executed the Catholic nuns, but the Catholic nuns were executed under his command, according to some findings from preliminary investigations. Vambo, who works as a security guard for one of the country’s largest communications firms in Monrovia, is believed to be an asset for future investigations, charges, and trials of the organizers and funders of the ACDL which founded the NPFL rebel group.
Although no killers have been brought to justice, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched an inquiry, but officials say steadfast reluctance by the Liberian government, under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to prosecute those blamed for atrocities and economic crimes and theft has meant that none of the suspects has ever faced trial.
Sources citing a senior Vatican official and a dedicated Catholic member of the US Congress from Massachusetts say more pressure will be brought to bear on the next Liberian government to ensure investigations and prosecutions take place, bringing to justice individuals who violated U.S. laws.
“Nobody is and should be above the law,” the lawmaker added.
Dominic Sackie, a Liberian financial analyst in South Carolina, says, “Now, one can deduce why the 2017 Liberia’s presidential election is very important to the Liberian leader. This election is about preventing prosecution and hindering justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia as well as for investigations into economic crimes and corruption.”