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Thu, 26 May 2022 10:00
Robert is joined again by Shereen Lani Younes to continue to discuss the Liberian Civil War.
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Listen to stuff you should know on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hey everybody, Robert Evans here. And for the last two years behind the ******** listeners have funded the Portland Diaper Bank, which provides diapers for low income families. Last year y'all raised more than $21,000, which was able to purchase 1.1 million diapers for children and families in need in 2021. And this year we're trying to get $25,000 raised for the Portland Diaper Bank, which is going to allow us to help. Even more kids. So if you wanna help, you can go to B fundraiser for PDX diaper bank at GoFundMe. Just type in go fund me bTB fundraiser for PDX Diaper bank again, that's go fund me. bTB fundraiser for PDX Diaper bank. Or find the link in the show notes. Thank you all. Ohh, behind the ********. That's how I would say the show's name if we were drivetime radio DJ's. Huh? Shereen, with this, this life of podcasting with me, get up at 5:00 AM every morning and talk to people on their well, it's a wacky with the horn dog and the apple here with you to do our morning butts day travel thing. Yeah, here's the part sound and that that that could be us, Shereen. That could be how we live our lives. Anything for you, Robert. Anyway, would like kings will both get really addicted to cocaine. I mean Shereen problematically addicted to cocaine and then all OD and have to go to the hospital and then I'll become a born again Christian and I'll start another radio show, but it's super racist and right wing and then I'll become a congressman and then the vice president of the United States. That's the logical timeline and route of any white man. So I'm going to that's like the shirt I wear every day. I'm going to just pence it. Oh, Robert, Robert, everybody. We all love. We all love our former Vice President Michael Pence. Yeah. Bless. God bless. Well, pin in that. I mean, yeah, we're just talking about how God isn't real. Come on, that's an obvious joke. We were just talking about how Charles Taylor has invaded Liberia. I mean, or is like carrying out a liberation, freedom, civil war, yadda yadda yadda. Anyway, he's got his troops. They're taking more and more of the country. And there's other warlords and there's other people like fighting against the government, like it's not all Charles Taylor, but his forces are like gradually advancing on the capital and as they advance on the capital in April of 1991 of the places they born in April 1990. Little baby, little baby. Sharing. So recent. And we all baby sharene baby, baby. Charles Taylor's liberation forces reaching the outskirts of the Firestone rubber plantation now the guy in charge of it. This dude Ensminger, who's again like, the the expat, the white dude who's, like running this plantation. He he's he sends out a message to all of the Liberian like the indigenous workers who live on the plantation. And he's like, don't worry, be calm. There's nothing to fear, he says repeatedly. Like. I'm not, you know, worried about what's going to happen. The the rebels, you know aren't going to **** with you like everything's fine. Keep right on working. Now you want to guess if he's saying the same thing to the expats, the white workers who live there with their families? I don't like where this is going. He sends them a confidential letter saying due to the current unstable political situation in Liberia, we believe it is prudent to plan for the worst case scenario. He tells them to pack emergency supplies to fill up their cars to meet its secret rally points in case of an evacuation and he states the information contained in this memo. Even the very existence of this memo should not be discussed with persons covered by it. He also sends home the wives and children of all the expats who work there so well. Here's the cool thing. Wish I was promised. They're fine. Because again, Charles Taylor, also not a stupid person. I don't wanna he's he's like, he invented converse. He did after inventing converse, he invades Liberia and he's like, I'm not going to murder a bunch of like, white people working at the Firestone. That's not good for me. Like that's gonna **** *** all of these governments that I don't particularly want angry at me right now. But yeah, yeah, because that's like, that's the kind of thing that's gonna get doe a bunch of weapons from the whoever, right? Like, you don't want to murder. So he has. I don't think you ever had any intention of harming the expats. Working there just because it wouldn't have been a smart thing to do. But this has become an ethnic war at this point, right? Doe was massacring the members of ethnic groups that are opposed to him. Taylor is massacring Cron and members of like other allied like ethnic groups that are allied with Joe and his regime, right. So when Charles Taylor's forces reach the Firestone plantation, they start picking out all of the people who are members of these groups that are their enemies and massacring them. Quote from Pro Publica, the first person the rebels killed after crossing the river. According to several witnesses, was a mentally handicapped man. He was gunned down in the street. Next, the rebels began hunting down people who belonged to tribes closely associated with the ruling regime. Kevin Estell, a British expatriate who was Firestone's agricultural operations manager, recalled seeing piles of dead bodies of Liberians lying outside the Harbell supermarket. He was told the rebels had executed the men in public because they were from a rival tribe. They had been stitched, riddled with bullets from a case 47 straight up and down their bodies, he said. They were left in the street, their bodies swelling in the sun. Oh, that's good for Firestone. Like, hey, you guys are fine. Don't worry about it. White people get the **** out exactly like pretty messed up, pretty, pretty bad stuff. God ******* white people. I would say so. I would say none of that's good behavior. I would say both. Abandoning your workers, not telling them they're in danger, only protecting the white people. Yeah, I would say Firestone. Why, why don't you know this? I think there are things we do should to Firestone property. That would be good. But boycotting? I don't know if that's the most effective thing that could. I mean, I I I've gone there a bunch of times. I didn't know this blood diamond history. You know what I mean? You know, make a Molotov out of a Chuck Taylor converse and Huck it through the window of a Firestone Tire store. So yeah, when Charles Taylor invaded Liberia, his problem, his plan probably was not to spark the building of a series of child militias filled with drug, adult and heavily armed kids. But it kind of happens as the invasion proceeds, right? Once his forces are in country, they're engaging with those forces. He's running up into shortages of manpower. The decision to arm kids just becomes militarily pragmatic. So at this point, DOE has spent like the half decade. Has been in power, sending his military to different provinces and killing all of the men he can find, ****** most of the women, and then often killing them too, right? And as a result, there's a **** load of angry, starving orphans in Liberia, you know, whose parents got murdered by the regime. Now, if you're Charles Taylor, you're always short of dudes to hand guns. What's a great source of manpower? But a bunch of like 12 year old kids who were ****** *** because their families died? Yeah. If anything, they're like, they're potentially more loyal because you're giving them very loyal because their purpose and family is starving and they need an authority figure. Charles Taylor provides both, so he gives these kids guns and he gives them cocaine and other drugs. But cocaine is the big one because, man, let me tell you, I mean, this is just something I've learned a lot. If you want to get a child to fight for you, you got to give them a lot of cocaine. That's the best way to get kids to fight with you or for you, whatever. Both. Really? So these kids had been exposed to the culture of human sacrifice and corpse desecration engaged in by the most prominent and powerful adults in their world. Again, these kids grow up seeing all of seeing both kind of the president signpost aspects of this and then after the civil war they see all of these warlords doing this ****. I mean they're beyond traumatized. Can only imagine that they saw before their very eyes all the time. They're it's not, it's more than traumatized. Certain aspects of this have become normalized. This is what you do in a war. This is what you do to exert. Power, right? And to take power for yourself, to protect yourself. These are practices you engage in. So as Taylor's men take more and more of the country's journalists start to see roadblocks manned by small boys units draping their command posts with the bones and guts of slaughtered enemies and civilians for, like, ritual purposes to protect themselves. Doe responds in the predictable way by handing guns out to Cron kids and kids of any other Allied ethnic groups in Monrovia and sending them out an ad hoc death squads and platoons. To attack Taylor soldiers who by late 1990 are laying siege to the capital, these children that DOE arms and the city become known as the 1990 soldiers. At one point they attack a Lutheran Church that's filled with members of rival ethnic groups and using axes and machetes, they murder more than 600 refugees from these kind of ethnic groups that are seen as being opposed to the president. Like like kids just massacring 600 people with axes like. And again, these are like some of them are like 10, like 9 and 10. Little kids often. So Taylor has a lot of initial international support, for obvious reasons, but it becomes quickly obvious that he is just as vicious as though, right? There is not a real moral difference between these two dudes. You will do anything, yeah. Liberian ex, pat, pat positions like Ellen Sirleaf, who had supported Taylor initially, quickly dropped him and she'll get like attacked later on because she helps fund him. Early economist is this word. Yeah, yeah. But also like, you know, he didn't start off doing some of the **** he would later do. I don't know. I'm not going to weigh in on that too much. But so the good dough, Jackson dough tries to join up with Charles Taylor's forces at one point and Taylor, like, uses him a little bit as like a billboard. Look at us. You know, we're legitimate. This guy really won the election. He's on our side. But then a couple of weeks later, Jackson Doe disappears and nobody knows what happens to him. Probably because Taylor's like, well, I don't, actually. I'm going to be the President, so let's get rid of this guy. I really need it. You're not really useful here. So as all this killing continues, the world just kind of watches on in shock. Taylor's forces gradually boxed dough into pretty much just controlling the capital, and his overthrow was only halted by the arrival of an international military mission made-up by soldiers from West African states. Although Nigeria is basically 100% of the effort, and it's more or less Nigeria intervening in order to try and have things work out in a way that's best for Nigeria. Right. That's often what you'll hear people claim at least. Right. So it's because like Doe connected to the US and Nigeria, well, also wants some. Yeah. There's a number of reasons I'm not going to like, I'm not going to attempt to lay into like, but yeah, this is supposedly international mission is primarily Nigeria and it's primarily Nigerian forces. So they set up shop in the capital to like, monitor things and try to negotiate a peace between Taylor's forces and the rebel Taylor Taylor's forces and does or the the different rebel groups dominated by Taylor. Window. But this isn't really doesn't go anywhere, because none of the belligerents are really willing to discuss any kind of peace as long as DOE remains in the country and does not willing to leave. And so the situation is stymied once again, until on September 9th, 1990, President Doe gets in his motorcade to visit the international Military Missions headquarters, and through a comedic series of errors, he winds up captured by troops from the AFL, which is the party that Charles Taylor is a member of now. The AFL splits in two at one point, and Taylor is in charge of a bunch of the troops. And then another guy named Prince Johnson, who is a warlord, is, like, in control. He's, like, also a major warlord in this. Right? So these guys are in the party that Taylor's affiliated with, but they're under the command of this other warlord, Prince Johnson. And I'm going to quote from the Liberian Civil Wars. The events that followed were captured on film by a Palestinian journalist representing a Middle Eastern news agency, the result of which was a snuff film that later found its way into circulation all across West Africa. The sequence opens with Prince Johnson seated at a desk, a can of Budweiser beer in his hand, and a string of hand grenades slung around his neck opposite him, seated on the floor and dressed only in underwear, with his arms and legs tightly bound with Samuel Doe. A rambling interrogation followed, interspersed with him singing in prayer. As Prince Johnson and an audience of his men grew steadily more inebriated, Doe could be heard pleading for his arms to be loosened and appealing for brotherhood while jeers and general conversation punctuate the background scenes. Then, at a certain point, Johnson thumped the desk and ordered dose. Year to be cut off. Doe was held down by several men as one man, armed with a knife, cut off his ears as he wailed and thrashed on the floor. And so it continued. The torture went on between bouts of muddled interrogation and snippets of discussion of dose, potential to escape despite his condition. Thanks to his juju power, death no doubt came slowly, and it is generally accepted that he died in the early hours of September 10th. Wow, so pretty nasty. Also pretty similar to how the last guy goes out to how Doe kills the last president, right? That's a very good. Throwback? Yes. Liberia at this point when you've had two presidents get tortured and executed by the guy who takes over after them, that's not a good precedent, right? It's not a good track record, I would say. Like, look, the US has had some complicated history with democracy. I don't want to get up on our high horse, but I think it's fair to say that's not an ideal transition of power. You know, that's not the best way that can go. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just recently remembered how you opened up this entire story about someone named **** naked. And I'm so curious how we're going to lay there. General **** Naked's coming, baby. OK. I I would love. Yeah, that's that. He's graphic. Not as fun a figure as you're thinking right now. Well, I know you know, because I told you he's not. I know it's not as fun as he sounds, right? OK, fine. Fine, fine. So you might think this would have been the end of things, hopefully, but obviously it it. The violence just continues. Taylor's victory against DoH sets off A6 year period of kind of free for all civil warfare. Now, Taylor is in charge in the capital for much of this, but the capital city and a lot of the country gets split up by this patchwork of different militia units. They're all allied to different strong men. All of them call themselves generals. Some of them are in charge of armies that have thousands of guys. Some of them is just like a couple of dozen dudes, right? They all call themselves generals. Most of these guys are pretty young. You're talking, we're talking like their 20s, basically. None have formal military experience. Some of them had been in the Liberian military. A lot of them are just like ******* dudes who joined militias during the early stage of the Civil War and wind up, you know, in charge of units. At this point, are you? Are you? I know no one has all the answers, but like, is is Taylor, like, revered or like, oh, this person, he is faded. Us? He's feared. No, because the violence never ends. OK, like, nobody likes dope, but like, Taylor's not bringing peace to Liberia. Yeah, he is definitely very popular among members of ethnic groups that had been purged by DOE, right? But that does not. Obviously. The country kind of falls apart into this massive. Civil war afterwards. So he's not, like, widely seen as legitimate, you know, and of all these different warlords and generals and whatnot, basically, since they don't have much in the way of military experience, their understanding of war and how to prosecute it comes from American action movies. Pics of like, it's a mix of American action movies the own, like the trauma they remember from being like 12 and seeing the early days of the war, right. And then myths they kind of remember from childhood about, like, different indigenous practices. And as an adult, they adopt noms de guerre for themselves that are a dizzying mix of awesome and nonsense. Famous rebel leaders included General Chuck Norris, General 1 foot Devil, General mosquito, general mosquito spray, and of course, the guy we're going to spend most of this episode. Discussing general **** naked. So that's where that of course it's yeah. Child ******* yeah. They're ******* like kids, man. They're like, I mean like 20 or something, but like they were kids when the fighting started. In many cases, I think it's you would most likely get stunted at that age. You know what I mean? There's only so much, yeah, developing you do when you're so you're traumatized, so young and so, I don't know. Yeah, this is that by the time Taylor is in power, this is a civil war that's being fought. The kids who probably don't have a ton of memories from before **** started to go, really get really violent. Yeah, that's all they know through things. Yeah, so, general **** naked's real name was Joshua Milton blahyi. He was born on September 30th, 1971 as a member of the Sarpo tribe. One source I found, the credibly named mysteriousuniverse.org give this gives this description of his upbringing, and obviously I'm going to explain why this is largely ******** but I want to read. It's because it gives you an idea of how kind of like popularly and more in like less credible but like main, not mainstream, but like one of the ways. Like the way in which people talk about this guy's background. Most commonly, even though it's not accurate, quote as he grew, he was just another boy like so many in the world. Somewhat rebellious, yes, but there was no clue as to the darkness and atrocities that lay ahead on his path to the future. His childhood would diverge from the norm when at the tender age of 11, he was made a tribal priest after an initiation ceremony in the forest, Blaye would claim during his initiation. Ritual. He had a strange and terrifying vision in which he says the devil came to him and proclaimed him to be a great warrior who could gain vast supernatural power if only he were to practice cannibalism and perform human sacrifices, and his life would change dramatically after this. Now, these are lies. Joshua Milton Blahyi, General **** Naked, is a huge liar. The mysterious universe thing, is based heavily on a book that he wrote after he became a born again Christian. His book, titled The Redemption of an African Warlord, is a pretty standard redemption narrative. You see a lot of evangelical I used to be a Satanic priest sacrificing babies, and then you come in. It's like a huge thing. And like, especially during like this actually this exact. The satanic panic is hitting in the United States and you're getting a lot of these. Like people being like, oh, I was a devil worshipper and then I found Jesus Christ. Blah's narrative is like the same thing. One of the differences though is that he absolutely murders little kid. He he kills a **** load of people and does a bunch of like, anyway, So what you're saying is he runs this website? Was kind of based on, yeah. So Blye claims to have an engaged from an early age in elaborate nightmare acts of child sacrifice to gain powers. Like even as a little kid, he says he's doing this as the priest. True. Like, well, no, because he's not a child priest, but he's committing. But like, he's doing ****** ** things. No. As an adult he is claiming that at age 11, he becomes a priest and learns human visits by the devil and starts sacrificing people. That's pretty certainly not true. There's basically one good article about this guy that I found. It's called the greater the center. It's in The New Yorker. It's written by Damon Tabor. And a lot of reporters who aren't Tabor get kind of taken in and. Charmed by blah, he he's a very charming guy. Tabor talked to his family, though, and among other things he he pretty easily punctures the myth that blah you with some sort of child murder priest quote Harrison Shine Schaller. Another of Blaise half brothers told me that he had been unaware of Blair's life as a priest. As far as Chandler knew blah, he was merely a rebellious youth. Their mother would give him money to buy food for the family, and he would disappear into the streets of Monrovia for weeks at a time. He left school after the third grade and later sold kool-aid and Chicken Soup at a local market. Wearing a purple necktie, purple shirt, purple trousers and purple shoes so people would recognize him, he then moved on to drug trafficking and robbery. Sometimes, Chandler said, he and Blai worked together. A Nigerian soldier once asked Blair to help him gain spiritual powers. Blai prescribed a witchcraft treatment, an enema, and while the soldier was indisposed, Chandler stole his money. So this, I think, is a more credible version of his back story. He is a con man. He knows how to. He's always thinking about an angle. He wants to make money. And I think he will get into this more later, but I think he adopts this very American Christian, but although not just because Liberian Christianity has a lot in common with, like, the revival that, like, all, you see a lot of the same things over there, these revival meetings, speaking in tongues, they have as much acclaim to it as Americans do, obviously, because again, they're started out as a colony. But that's what he's doing. When you hear about these crazy stories of, like, him sacrificing babies for magical powers, that's what he's. Yeah, it's all part of the con. He is also as a warlord as we're going to get to. He commits a lot of crimes against humanity. Do not get me wrong if this is a very complicated story for that reason. So again, in order to puncture his claims about his early life, Tabor also goes on to note that while witchcraft and human sacrifice are a part of some indigenous beliefs in West Africa, nothing like the sort of child priesthood that Blaggy describes, where he's like picked to be the tribe priest at 11 and has to carry a sacrifice. Nothing like like. Anthropologists have found no evidence of anything like that existing in indigenous societies and or like communities in Liberia. Quote, David Brown, a social anthropologist who has worked in Liberia since the 1970s, said that he had never heard of a secret society that matches Blaise description. I spoke with many other experts who agreed. One called Blair's story ludicrous. And again, part of what he's playing on here is the fact that white people are willing to believe any kind of **** you tell about this stuff. I'm gonna say, like, that's why it's so many people bought into it. Oh my God, this, this. These cultures are crazy. And it's savage. Of course that would happen. Yeah, and you know what else white people are always willing to believe in? Sherene. Yeah, capitalism and the products and services that support this podcast, all backed heavily by white people. But I So what that was, I mean, that was too real. I mean, I did not enjoy that at all. Well, at all. Sometimes, sometimes things happen and they can't be stopped. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the build to find all these nuts fees. 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Hey, it's Rick Schwartz, one of your hosts for San Diego Zoo's Amazing Wildlife podcast. In this special episode, we sit down with Doctor Jane Goodall to hear her inspiring thoughts on how we can create a better future for humans, animals and the environment. If we don't help them find ways of making a living without destroying the environment, we can't save chimps, forests or anything else. And that becomes very clear when you look at poverty around the world. If you're living in poverty, you can't afford to ask as we can. Did this product harm the environment? Was it cruel to animals like, was it factory farmed? Is it cheap because of unfair wages paid to people and so alleviating poverty? Is tremendously important. Listen to amazing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. We're back from ads, so we're talking about Milton Blahyi. So Blaine now claims that when Sergeant Doe took control, and this is again, I'm going to be talking a lot about things he claims about his back story. I will tell you when it's true. I think it's true. OK, right. So one of the things blue claims is that when Sergeant Doe took control of the country right back in the 80s, he was dose official spiritual advisor. That's what sounds like ********. Absolutely. There's no evidence of this. A lot of casual write ups of of of general **** naked will say it will either just say that he was or that he sometimes they'll say he claims. I don't think they put enough emphasis on the fact that, like, there's no ******* evidence of this. One source claims he did black magic to help Doe win election or reelection, which is not true. Doe did not win reelection. He burned people's ballots and he committed genocides. I don't know he was. He does get affiliated with DOE at some point. It's not impossible. They did some sort of like maybe he said hello. The idea that like he was his spiritual, I just have not seen hard evidence of it. But to give you an idea of more of the lurid claims made about Blackie during the DOE period of time in Liberia, I'm going to quote again from mysteriousuniverse.org. You can tell that's a credible site. Yeah, 100%. He would get involved as a high priest of a secret cult that practiced black magic, human sacrifice and worshipped a God called Nyambe, always who he believed was actually the devil. During this time he claims he regularly talked to the devil as well as displayed many. Supernatural powers such as invisibility, flight, and immunity to bullets. And he was already accustomed to the sight of blood due to the monthly sacrifices he helped carry out. But it would not be until civil war came to Liberia that he would truly carve out his legacy as a ruthless, frightening force to be reckoned with and truly earned. His moniker The most evil man in the world. And he just made himself into, like, a superhero villain. That's yeah, he kind of does. Yeah, that's absurd. And he is a really bad dude, don't get me wrong. But like, well, we'll continue. So, yeah, when it comes to the question of what? Did this guy actually do right? What is his real background? Things are a lot murkier. Many sources will say that he will kind of just because he calls himself a general, we'll assume he was a major military leader. He was certainly well known. He was infamous within the city of Monrovia, which is where he was active, right, and where a lot of the fighting is occurring. A lot of people were knew him in Monrovia, but basically all good documented evidence of him as the warlord general **** naked is pretty much just 1996. Right now he's fighting, he's involved in different militias to some extent prior to that, but really his his career is **** naked is like one year, OK, that's when he's 25 if I get the math right, something like that, yeah. Now based on what his brother said, we can assume he probably spends the early year like while DOE is in power. He's probably mostly like smuggling drugs, doing some mid level scams and crimes. He's, he's not Cron, but he's like an ethnicity that is kind of allied with dose, with the Koran, with like those people. So he does when when the Civil War starts, he joins a militia that's allied with dose political party and he fights on that side of the conflict of Taylor. So he's on the losing side of the initial stage of the Civil War, right? And when Doe gets killed, Blahhh joins a militia called the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy, which is made-up of former soldiers and does army and other Cron. Charles Taylor is the big enemy that Bloggy and all of his fellows were fighting. And by the mid 1990s, Taylor. You turned the process of making child soldiers into something of a science. Taylor's small boys units numbered thousands of kids and were made-up mostly of orphans who swore allegiance to Popeye, as they called him, like Popeye. Think like Papa and he would have to prove, and he would have some prove their loyalty by killing their parents. Because they were so loyal and impressionable and drugged up, they made excellent shock troops from a right up in pro publica. He presented himself as a Baptist who neither smoked nor drank a mesmeric speaker. He would appear before adoring. Crowds dressed in fine white linen, spouting promises of democracy, jobs and better days, and other times he wore camouflage and carried an AK47. He would talk to the radio to announce the impending capture of a nearby town, then magically do it. For many in Liberia, the spirit world remains close at hand, and such a place Taylor became something more than a man's mystical, powerful, otherworldly. So this is the guy that blaggy is is fighting against, right? Right. So he starts in the mid 1990s. Yeah, it's probably, I don't think. I'm not going to say he was. Only **** naked for a year, but like he starts to like go from just being a guy involved in the Civil war to a militia leader and kind of the mid 90s when he starts recruiting children himself. Mostly kids who are like 9 to 10. Some who are like older in their teens, but like a lot of the kids he's recruiting are little kids and he he has them fight naked and he fights naked blah. He claimed that this was because being naked made his magical powers more effective. He could go invisible and he could avoid bullets more easily. And one thing people point out is that. Like, he legitimately was fighting in a bunch of battles naked. There's video of him naked with guns and, like, fighting, killing people with machetes and stuff, and he doesn't get shot like he is. It's one of those things. You can see how a mystique builds around this guy because yeah, he and his kids are fighting nude, but also like, they're winning a lot of the time, you know? And these, like, these are like street fights with guns, you know? They're like, very low, like, not. We're not talking like tanks and ****. Fighting each other helps his narrative being like, he doesn't need his armor, he doesn't. Anything well, they don't have, we'll talk about that in a bit. So he and his soldiers, they'll fight nude. They're also he's mashing cocaine up into the foods of these kids in his unit to like, make them fight better. Feel for all these children that were oht? Yeah, it's horrible. Yeah, and they massacred the **** out of anyone they see as an enemy right up from ABC notes Blaggy had a reputation for being more brutal than other military leaders. Everyone knows his nom de guerre general **** naked. He was a cannibal who prefers to who preferred to sacrifice babies because he believed their death promised the greatest amount of protection. He went into battle naked, wearing only sneakers and carrying a machete because he believed it made him invulnerable and he was in fact never hit by a bullet. His soldiers would make bets on whether a pregnant woman was carrying a boy or girl, than they would slit open her belly to see who was right. And, you know, these are things Blai claims a lot of it. Certainly true. He has soldiers who kill a **** load of women and children also. That's splitting up in the belly of a pregnant woman. You hear that a lot as like, claims of war crimes and stories and often like, I don't know the degree to which they did it. It is something he claims. A lot of things he claims are lies. That said, they do stuff that's on that level, that's documented, that's on that level of horrible. So it's not out of the question. Either. We have footage and photos of him naked and wielding rifles and machetes. Foreign journalists reported on what he did. He's a he was really doing some of this stuff. Yeah. Numerous Liberian civilians since the war have talked to breasts to have talked to press about how he'd do stuff like shoot off their legs with his handgun or machete their husband to death, kill their brothers and sisters by hacking them to pieces. So, like, again, this is very much like a lot of those traditional evangelical Christian narratives where they will, like Luridly, claim to have been doing. Parable, satanic ****. But like, also he did a bunch of that. Like, we do know, like he's not making all of this up. A lot of it's documented. It's just that there's a lot of, like, lurid occult stuff that isn't so much document that is more questionable. Anyway, years later, while he was testifying at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which we'll talk about more later. Later he claims that he talked about how he would he called it planting violence in his child soldiers, how he would radicalize them to fight for him. And the way he would do this is he would show them American action movies like Rambo and **** and a lot of these movies, different Hollywood movies, right? You'll see the same actors and multiple movies, right? And you'll die in one movie and then that actor will be back as a character, another movie, right? So he would show them multiple movies where like kind of the same actors are playing extras or bad guys and get killed, and then they're back alive in another movie. And he would explain to these kids that, like, real war works the same way. So if you kill people, they're going to come back somewhere else. He calls them. War is just an act. You're just playing a role like these, like Rambo, you know, so it's not real, so we can do whatever you know. He also testifies that when he shot and wounded enemies, he'd have his child soldiers cut them to pieces in order to desensitize them. Then they would eat and share the heart. So that's not great. For a better idea of the kind of war crimes this guy and his boys got up to, I'm going to quote again from that ABC article, and this is based on interviews with a young woman who blah, he met with after the war to apologize for murdering her family. Part of why I'm reading this is like, we can we know this is a true like again, a lot of the claims he's make aren't true. His victim is alive. Like we can talk to her. That's why I'm reading this, because this is one that we know is one of the things. So are you saying, like, he apologized when he was like, doing his Christian ****? We're we're getting to that. I want to give you an idea of one of the verified war crimes. We know that he was doing a group from the Cron tribe, was searching for enemies within the country, which in a civil war consists of any member of another tribe. Her older brother Daniel was hiding a nanny. From the Geo tribe, who had been working for the family for years. It'll be OK, the mother said. Faith heard the screams outside the huts as the men approached. Suddenly she saw a naked man with only a machete in his hand. Why is the man naked? She wondered. Then she saw the other men, about 25 of them as she estimates today, carrying guns they had heard. There was a Geo woman in the village. Daniel stood in front of the nanny to protect her. She is a human being, like you and me, he said to blai. Blai responded with an order. One of the boys stepped forward and chopped off her brother's foot. Then he Hacked Off his lower leg, followed by his thigh in his hip, methodically working his way up to up the body. Eventually her brother fell silent. Blaye told everyone to lie on the ground. His men raped her mother and her sisters and then killed them. Guy says they didn't rape her, but they did. They didn't rape me, but they did things to me I don't want to talk about. They left me with a bluish that I will always have at some point, blah. You said that things were moving too slowly and that there were other military operations to attend to. That was when he began to participate. Well, so again. To be clear, we're talking about he makes a lot of claims I don't think happened. This guy is doing some hot, like nightmarish crimes against humanity. Real bad stuff. So yeah, we so Oh my God, it's, I don't know. The things that humans are capable of truly are just mind melting. And The thing is, you you could say that if one person is capable of that, then we all are, right? If it's like, if that's what what I just. We're not all capable of physically participating in mass murder and rape, but we are saying we're all, for one thing, we're all capable of supporting the people who do that, which is really one of the stories that's most important. From the Holocaust. Exactly. No, I mean a lot of. Sorry. No, no, no. I'm just baffled by. I mean, I I know humans have done horrible things since the dawn of humans, but it's it's still so unsettling to me to really wrap your head around what that means. We it's one of those things you one of the worst crimes in the Holocaust was the Bobby Yar massacre. I think. Like 30,000 Jewish people are shot to death in a single day by by a German forces. A horrific, horrific act. Probably the biggest mass shooting of of people in history. In the same war, the United States Air Force incinerates between like 80 and 150,000 people in a single night in Tokyo, knowingly killing civilians, knowing that that's most of who. Will die as civilians that we're going to burn them to death by the 10s of thousands. Which of those is a worse war crime? Well, people have strong opinions on that, but at the end of the day, both of them are the targeted killing of civilians for different purposes, one could argue, but both are military forces using military grade weaponry to massacre civilians by the 10s of thousands. It's a thing that every side in a sufficiently large war, every side finds a reason to justify. And and so I think, as lurid as the crimes of these Liberian warlords are, you get so many. Breathless descriptions of guys like **** naked murdering little kids and ****** women and all these horrible things that happened that are worth documenting and worth discussing. But they often get talked like they are somehow separate from the kinds of war crimes that we endorse, and I don't think they are. I think the the targeting and killing and torturing and ****** of civilians is bad, whether it's being done using missiles or being done by a man with a rifle going face to face. They don't. I don't think that the separation or that we, we trade one kind of massacre for another makes a tremendous moral difference to me when you're still killing civilians. Yeah. Now, I agree with that 100%. It's a good reminder. Yeah. Sometimes I get, like, one of the arguments you make is that we usually, when we kill civilians, it's an accident. Like that guy, I mean, that family of 10 and Afghanistan, right, believe that he wanted to rape and murder these people. We didn't wanna kill that family. We just ****** **. And it's like, OK, I don't know how you want to apportion. About the morality of that you know, they totally. I just think that's well ignorance and just like just it's just if you still believe some of that ******** and after all this technology and all these things you can make and it's we we can sit at home and like debate which of those is more or less a moral act. I don't know that it matters to the people getting blown up. Exactly. Yeah. You know. But whatever. Like I I just state this because it frustrates me when like the fighting in Liberia. Then the brutality of it is seen as something exceptional rather than this is what happens when there are civil wars. You know, they're bad. That's very true. And maybe it's more digestible when things are just large numbers versus, like, this happened to this person. Yeah. And you can visualize it in your head, right? Or if it's like a like a village of people, it doesn't really. It's when I, when I read a story like that of him killing this family and, like, repeatedly ****** the women and having his soldiers do it, that is horrific. And deeply painful to hear and a way that if I say a US air strike killed a family of 11. Exactly. Yeah. Doesn't sound. Now, if I were to describe to you what shrapnel does to the bodies of little children. Yeah, if you were, then perhaps you would have that reaction to. Do you know about what that bombing did to the bodies of these people? Yeah, exactly. But it's just like sometimes, especially now, we just hear all these, like, 18 casualties and Palestine or whatever, and it's like we're desensitized. Does that ******* mean? Yeah. And we get these stories because they're they seem foreign and terrifying and like they're doing magic and they're these drug addled warlords doing these horrible things. And that's, again this. He is committing unfathomably brutal crimes in the on the same level of of her horribleness as any, like, Nazi Einsatzgruppen member carried out any of these guys slaughtering their way through Russia. Like, I, I I don't mean to mitigate what he's doing at all. I just hate that it is often portrayed as somehow separate. From the history of western warfare. No. And the way that we hear you and I think it's it's. I don't I didn't see it as you mitigating anything. I think it's just a good reminder to just, yeah. If you think this is bad, realize that it's just one other thing. But like this is also not unique. So. OK, so while you would later claim that his general **** naked, he used human sacrifice and cannibalism to gain magic powers, quote, every town I entered, they would give me the chance to do my human sacrifices, which included innocent children. He elaborated. Anytime we captured a town, I had to make a human sacrifice. They bring me a living child that I slaughter and take the heart out to eat it. I I'm perfectly wouldn't believe this happens sometimes. It is worth noting. I've read a lot of accounts that journalists have had because he's now that he's for like, apologized. He goes around and talks to his victims to try to get like, we'll get into that more later. All of their stories are horrible. They're like the one I read earlier. I have not run into any of them talking about like, yeah, we had this. He sacrificed an infant in my village or something like that. That's all from him as opposed to the things that like his victim. So I I don't know how true it is. Yeah, they're not surprised. It was a thing he did sometimes, but he's exaggerating how often it happened. Like very unclear. It's just weird to me that, like, I can come up with a lot of stories of ****** ** **** we knew this guy did, and none of them are like that kind of stuff. But whatever he did definitely kill a lot of civilians. He was definitely into like magic kind of stuff, which is not a lot of Liberian warlords are doing different kind of witch doctor kind of stuff that's usually framed right in the years since, blah, he has attempted to make amends with his victims. And overwhelmingly, I think most of them are men and boys, although a lot of them are, especially a lot of the people he does. Violence too. That's not murder, are women. There are two ways you can look at his lurid claims of committing wartime atrocities. Either he did everything he said and literally believed he was engaging in witchcraft and gaining powers, or he was making a very rational decision based on elements of the local culture and battlefield efficacy. For one thing, people in this culture, because of what everyone else has been doing, are primed to take seriously some of these signifiers of being involved in witchcraft, being a witch doctor and whatnot. So they make people take you more seriously. Also, if other people who are seen as powerful are doing sacrifices and engaging in cannibalism, than engaging in that too makes you like, he's fighting. Charles Taylor and Taylor's forces are doing stuff like this, and this makes this allows him to like, like, you have to build yourself up into like, in a mythic sense, something is formidable as what you're fighting, right? You're you're naked, not getting shot by bullets. Yeah, just like exceeds the the light. And it's also, it's worth noting in a in fighting, like what's happening in Liberia. Fighting naked does not expose you to much more danger than fighting with clothing on. OK, this is not a war. This is before people outside of like very advanced militaries have ready access to quality body armor, right? It just does not exist for most people in this fighting. And AT shirt offers no more protection from a bullet than than being naked. And in fact one one thing like this is from there. There have been forces who fought naked earlier in history and one of the things that was noted is like well, when they would get stabbed. Shot. They were less likely to die because they're not having like a filthy, matted fur or something pushed into an open wound, which most likely have infections. And and this is also where there's not a lot of great access to medical care, so it's not it sounds wacky and crazy. It's not as irrational a decision as it may seem. Weird benefits. And also seeing a naked dude charging you was terrifying as he gains a reputation from being not being able to be killed, that benefit that makes people less likely to fight. People will tell stories that like, whole towns would flee when you hear general **** naked is coming because he's a ******* dangerous, crazy person, you want to get the **** out of there, right? The legend is work. That's a benefit for him. Like, so again, as as wild as all this sounds, there are very rational reasons for everything he's doing in addition to whatever he does happen to believe. Yeah, and so again, that's just important to note that like all of the stuff that is most lurid about this makes a kind of sense as a cold blooded military calculation. Yeah, yeah, it it's a force multiplier, right? Yeah. It's like, it's like a grifting. It's like a different form of like, just like how it's just conning people and they're much more intense, violent way. I think what I want to point out is, again, you get a lot of ableism. This where people would describe behavior like what he's doing, like taking cocaine and fighting naked as insane, and like this is extremely sane. He is very much acting within the strictures of the society that has devolved in Liberia over wartime, and his actions are perfectly rational within the context that he lives. And part of the evidence for that is he survives the war. Yeah. So, Umm. And I I I tend to think he is a pretty calculating guy, you know? I mean, unfortunately, he's not stupid. It sounds like, you know. Yeah, no, you have to. Yeah, yeah, he's he's he. I think he was a pretty pragmatic dude. Yeah. So, blah. He now claims that his career as general **** naked ended after a battle on April 6th, or in some versions right before a battle to take a bridge in in like April of 1996. And he has this vision, and I'm going to quote from a write up in The New Yorker. I met Jesus there for the first time, he said in his memoir, Blah. He describes killing a child near the this bridge by opening the little girl's back and plucking out her heart. Her blood was still in his hands, he told me when he heard a voice. When I looked back, I saw a man standing there. He was so bright, brighter than the sun. The voice told him. Repent and live or refuse and die. I wanted to continue fighting, but my mind never left this person. How bright he was and how passionate his words blah, he continued. He soon quit fighting, leaving his child soldiers defend for themselves, and he began sleeping in a Pew in a nearby church. The pastor there gathered his congregation and they asked God to strip Blaha of his demonic powers. The next day Blai went to see his commanding officer, handed over his weapons and ambulance, and said my new commander is Jesus Christ, I OK, I what is the benefit? OK as a grifter, as a con man? What was the reason he just like, there has to be a benefit to this. We are getting to that, so it is worth noting. The context that this year, 1996, the year he claims he converted and left war behind, is also the year there is a ceasefire in Liberia, right? That's a good thing to note, yeah, everyone is ******* exhausted at this point for like 16 years, basically, they've been either at war or they've just been this dictator has been purging people. There's been Coos. It's been like, it's been like 15 plus years of just like constant, traumatizing ********. Everyone's exhausted and they agree. Like, OK, let's have a ******* election and we'll see if that works any better than what we've been doing. Umm. So Charles Taylor is like in charge in Monrovia at this point, and he decides to run for president. And since violence has gotten kind of out of favour, he declares that he's been born again as a Christian. So why is not is not like his rival does. His rival dust gets him, like starts signaling some of this witchcraft **** and like using child soldiers, blah, he does it. Charles Taylor becomes born again, blah. Yeah, right. Like that's an element here. Now, there is widespread skepticism about Charles Taylor's claims. That he's born again, and it's generally seen as a ploy to make himself more palatable. The next year, in 1997, he runs for presidents under the incredible slogan he killed my momma, he killed my paw, I'll vote for him. That was not where I thought that was going, right? Yes, that's pretty quite quite a presidential slogan, actually. Rhyme or something interesting and New Yorker explains quote. The phrase was darkly ironic. Taylor was claiming to be the only leader powerful enough to prevent another war. Right. So like, that's his, that's what he's saying is like, yeah, man, I killed your ******* family. But now I've got what it the, the amount the might that it will take to keep Liberia peaceful. So vote for me like no one else is going to to to to defeat me like this. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And he wins the election. You can either say this is because of his brilliant strategy or because it's not not a great election. Election, whatever. Taylor wins or wins, you know, however you want to see it. And he immediately sets to persecuting. Rifles, including blocky, the former general **** naked flees to Ghana, where he lives in a refugee camp, and he claims he learns to read and studies the Bible during this time. Of course he does. And he also says this is when he starts spending time face to face with people who had been his victims, who are like, what the **** are you doing here? You're the reason that we had to leave, you know? So he spends like a decade kind of hiding. In 1999, the Civil War starts up again, right? They have like 3 years during where there's this election and Taylor wins. And then another rebel invades the same way Taylor had from like, a bordering country and tries to house though, right? I mean, like, right? You know this, none of this should be surprising. By 2003, at least 1/4 of a million people have been killed in the two Liberian civil wars. And this has now been going like the civil wars have been going on for 14 years, right? And then you had dose rain before that, which was pretty nasty. People just have nothing left in them. But the war has, like I say, regular people, the the warlords and the their ******* child armies. All they do is keep escalating and as kind of the year begins, Taylor is fighting for his life. In the city against a siege from an opposing rebel party, just like Doe had been doing against him, right? This is like the third time this **** has happened. So it is at this point that the women of Liberia start to get seriously politically organized. Women bore the brunt of the violence in both civil wars, and there had been attempts to organize nonviolent protest campaigns earlier in the first civil war. I think one of the issues is that Muslim and Christian women have trouble, like organizing together for a variety of reasons, and I'm going to tell you this story. Which is pretty ******* cool. But you know what else is pretty cool? Let's see, what is it this time? Well, it's not mono. That was last episode. Not mono is pretty cool. It's all the cool. Kids are getting it because they're making out. In my high school, if you didn't get it, that means you weren't kissing anybody. I know. You're not. You're not you're not getting any action if you're not catching mono, right? I didn't. No, actually, no. That's because all your all your players not clear. Yeah. Yeah. Neither did I. It's about makes sense anyway. Wamp, wamp, go ahead. I have faith in everyone hears ability to catch mono. Mint Mobile offers premium wireless starting at just 15 bucks a month. And now for the plot twist. Nope, there isn't one. Mint Mobile just has premium wireless from 15 bucks a month. There's no trapping you into a two year contract. You're opening the bill to find all these nuts fees. There's no luring you in with free subscriptions or streaming services that you'll forget to cancel and then be charged full price for none of that. For anyone who hates their phone Bill, Mint Mobile offers premium wireless for just $15.00 a month. Mint Mobile will give you the best rate whether you're buying one or for a family. And it meant. Family start at 2 lines. 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If we don't help them find ways of making a living without destroying the environment, we can't save chimps, forests or anything else. And that becomes very clear when you look at poverty around the world. If you're living in poverty, you can't afford to ask as we can. Did this product harm the environment? Was it cruel to animals like, was it factory farmed? Is it cheap because of unfair wages paid to people and so alleviating poverty? Is tremendously important. Listen to amazing wildlife on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. We're back. Ohh. So it is, you know, bad stuff. This has mostly been bad stuff, but now we're going to talk about some cool **** because all of the women in Liberia start to organize a protest campaign for women. Women, let's bring women into the story. Finally. They've been involved just mostly getting murdered and raped. Now they are going to. I mean, it's been horrible. And that's part of why this is able to happen. And this is one of the coolest stories I've ever heard. OK. So to explain what happened next, I'm going to quote from an article in the Journal of International Women's Studies by Maxwell Ajay, Ajay ADGADJEI. So there you go and go. Often a cycle of violence and with no hope for a better future, a group of Liberian women under the leadership of Lema Gabali came together to form the women of Liberia mass action for peace WLMP to demand an immediate end to the conflict, initially Kabali. The Christian social worker with the Lutheran Church had intended the organization to include include a small group of Christian women who would meet regularly to pray for peace. However, when word spread about their meetings through the community, one Muslim policewoman, Asatu Bah Kenneth, became highly impressed with the women's vision and volunteered to mobilize Muslim women to join the movement. Following initial concerns that having Muslims in their ranks would dilute their faith, the Christian women ultimately resolved that because bullets don't pick and choose between Christian and Muslim women, it would be in their interests. Work together for peace. Very good. More importantly, having a united front of Christian and Muslim women would send a clear message to the people of Liberia that neither the government forces, predominantly Christian nor Lu Rd forces, predominantly Muslim, were fighting for their religious interests. While addressing WLMP for the first time, Gabai declared that in the past we were silent. But after being killed, raped, dehumanized and infected with diseases, war has taught us that the future lies in saying no to violence and yes to peace for the thousands of women. Gathered this impassioned speech by gabali, more than any ethnic or religious affinities represented the level of frustration with the conflict and the extent to which they were willing to commit to bring peace to their country. O Gabali and her fellow organizers start holding rallies at mosques, markets and churches. They'll do 3 rallies a week, one at a mosque, one in a market, one at a church. These are all like to so that they're reaching everyone, right? These are the three places everyone's going to go to at least one of these three places. And they start reaching out to other women and gradually expanding the reach of their organization and demanding peace. Uh, once they've built themselves up into a sizable organization and they've had time to discuss a more detailed plan of action, they issued a statement condemning all sides in the civil war for their abuses of women and children, basically saying none of you were legitimate because all of you were just massacring people, which is not an inaccurate way to analyze the Liberian Civil War. Next quote, in defiance of President Taylor's ban on public marches, WLMP staged its first mass protest. Monrovia's fish Market a location that would make the president see them on his daily commute to the office. While using radio and printed Flyers to to spread word about the protest, gavali and her team encouraged women to show up for the protests in white clothing without any jewelry or makeup for them. This would send a signal about their serious commitment to peace and unrelenting desire to remain independent of either side of the conflict. Heading to their calls on the radio, over 2500 women from different social backgrounds clad in white T-shirts showed up daily for the SIT in protests which took place over the next several weeks. In each of the gatherings, the women would sit, dance and sing for peace while displaying placards and banners with messages such as the women of Liberia want peace now, we are tired, we want peace, no more war, etcetera. For a while Taylor was able to ignore the women, but their crowds kept growing larger and larger. He was eventually forced to take their petition and promise his willingness to hold ceasefire talks with the rebels. They didn't consider this the end though, and brainstormed other tactics to apply pressure eventually. They decided to go on a sex strike, and this is a quote again from the same document. To prevent their husbands from forcibly having sex with them, they set up safe spaces where they could stay and sleep together. After some initial setbacks, the strategy seemed to be effective as many men began to pray with their wives and demand an end to the conflict. More importantly, the sex strike gave the campaign extremely valuable media attention outside of Liberia. Following the successes with the sex strike and President Taylor's meeting, the women turned their attention to the rebels, demanding that they too agree to attend the peace talks. Upon hearing that the warlords were meeting at a hotel in a neighboring country, Sierra Leone, a delegation of the women travelled to the country. On their arrival, the delegation was able to arrange a private meeting with the warlords and get them to commit to attending peace talks. Damn, so women are geniuses. It's a pretty good story. You know it. It's not. There's other stuff going on, other factors working for peace, obviously, like talk about these ceasefires and stuff have been going on for what it is. Not just this that leads to an end, but this plays a significant role in the end of the Second Liberian Civil War. Which is pretty cool. Yeah. I think that's. I mean, yeah. I mean, not that we need more evidence of this, but women smarter than men, you know what I mean? So that's just this is definitely, definitely a story where the women are the ones who are much smarter and also very much like have you. So Liz Estrada is this old Greek play about the Peloponnesian War with the plot of, like, this is the plot of it, like, the women in Athens decide to go on like a sex strike to force it into the war. I mean, like, if you think about it, if nothing else is working, you use what is weaponized to you like, for your benefit, you know what I mean? Or like for you to take advantage of what people see you as it. And it's important to note like, they have to. There's a lot that they have to do in order to make this work, including setting up safe spaces where they cannot get like that. That the document that I cited there you should is really worth reading because there's a lot more that goes like there's a ton of organizations. This is a very involved process I'm giving you. Like, really broad strokes here. Uh. So Taylor is eventually forced to resign and go into exile. International peacekeeping troops enter the country, the rebels lay down some of their arms. And and broadly speaking, things get a lot better. There were elections and more elections, and these all eventually culminate in the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who becomes Liberia's first female president. So this is all great, and things in Liberia get much better because of this. But peace is only achieved because there's with there have to be a lot of ugly. Compromises, right? So when the war ends. One side isn't crushed. Everyone's got people under arms. The country is filled with 10s of thousands of men and boys who have done the things we just talked about, why you're doing, who have raped women in mass and like gunned down babies and all this kind of ****. These guys are like still around. But also, what are you going to do about it? If you start going after every individual who committed a war crime into militia, how does that not cause another civil war? Because they're going to pick up guns again and also their families are going to be ******. The ethnic group is going to be like. Well, they did what they did because that was done to us and they were defending us. And like, it's it's a really messy problem, right? We have achieved peace. What do we do? To what extent can we punish the people who did bad things during the war? How? Like, how? So this is not, they don't have a simple answer to this, but they decide to hold a truth and reconciliation Commission. And the purpose of this is to investigate the worst offenders and basically go through this list of people they know had done ****** ** **** talk to as many of them as they can, investigate it and then decide, broadly speaking, do we pardon them or do we prosecute them? You know, and this is where general **** naked comes back into the historic record. So he's been, he's been hiding for like a decade, you know, hanging around. When he hears about this, he shows up on day one of the hearings and becomes. The first warlord to testify, he admits of his own volition. Yeah, he shows he enters, that he's not even in the country. He comes back to testify. He is the first, I think, like the only person to to admit to war crimes on this level. He admits in front of this to recruiting child soldiers, to ****** women, to murdering civilians, to sacrificing babies, to everything we've talked about. He admits his personal death toll at 20,000 people. Now that's not possible. He he is in. He is effectively leading a platoon. There's like 30-40 kids that he's commanding at any given time, maybe a company at the most. There's just no way he killed 1/10 of the people who died in the Liberian Civil War. Yeah, but this guy exaggerates, right? We know that, right? Right. He's a fan. And also there's a vice documentary about him, which we'll talk about in a bit. There's problematic aspects of that, but some of the Liberians who were interviewed in that suggest that, well, he's not literally saying me and my forces killed 20,000, but we were the side we were working on and the period where I was one of the leaders of that side. Build, which is broadly plausible. Right. And, you know, so that's the thing you'll hear. The Commission did not really question him on anything. They seemed to kind of be in awe of him. And the fact that he's coming and admitting and he's saying that, like, I feel terrible, you know, it is. It's the smart move. If. Yeah, if you did something stupid and you immediately admit to it, there's something almost endearing about it. You know what I mean? Yeah. It's just, yeah. That's why I always, when I finish drunk, driving my forerunner through a trailer park and shooting an AK47 out the window. I always leave a note that says real sorry. And that's why everybody loves me. I'm just saying, if y'all cheat on your partners instead of getting caught, if you admit to it, less likely they're gonna hate you. You know what I mean? Stuff like that. Not the AK, whatever the **** that you just said. But also, none of this works on cops, so don't try it. O the Commission does not really question him on any of this stuff. One member tells him he has good leadership qualities. They seem to just be blown away that this guy is like coming to them and just saying what people broadly know is true. Next, from The New Yorker quote, Blah's testimony was front page news in Liberia. Strangers hugged him on the streets of Monrovia, and journalists came from all over the world to interview him. The Daily Mail ran a profile under the headline face to face with general **** naked, the most evil man in the world. Vice featured bloggie in a lurid travel documentary. Called the Vice guide to Liberia, which has been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube, Bojan Jancek, the pastor of an evangelical church in the East Village, saw the video and later became one of Blaise benefactors. Blaggy has written five books, a memoir told titled The Redemption of an African Warlord. It was published in 2013 by a small Christian press and the forward Jancik wrote. Not since the conversion of Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus have I ever heard a conversation, a conversion story more radically compelling. So I'm, I'm trying to look him up because I need to know. Again we talked about this before, I'm sure on an episode I've been on. But like if you're you said he was charming, but if you're good looking ish, even above average, you can get away with more ****. So I wanna know what he looks like really. I mean, he's not. He's he's he's he's he's like a big dude. He's pretty like muscular. So he's not really BLAHYEYI. He's not really my. I'm kind of more into like, anyway, whatever. But you said he was charismatic, so it's probably he's very charismatic. The reason he's conning, I'm sure, I'm sure I'm sure some. And he when he's younger, I'm sure he's also considering more handsome. OK, sorry, but I think he's just he's a really good talker, you know? That's kind of more the the deal, I guess. More than attraction, that's what. Or attractiveness, that's what probably gets you more cons. It's the talking ability. Yeah, yeah. So blah used detractors will argue that he pretty much just partied his fame as the repentant warlord into a new career. Charismatic and well spoken he's been. And again, he's in this like this vice documentary early on and it gets him a benefactor. Somebody starts giving him money to like do things to like try and make things right and he he he like right after he gets kind of famous for going to this thing. He establishes a home for former child soldiers, like a rehab home to like help them. It definitely exists or it has it points. There's a vice documentary from 2011 called the, I think it's called the Redemption of General **** naked. And it films him and his soldiers and like or these kit former child soldiers and they're all saying like, oh, he saved my life. I would have died with I was living on the street. He's, you know, he's, he's, he did bad things. But like you know, he's, he's our, our, our basically our father now he's like he's saving us. But interestingly that documentary is filming him while he gets a death threat. And he flees the country for Ghana, and his soldiers all wind up back on the street and are like, what the ****? He abandoned us while he lives in a hotel. So yeah, that that. There's there's criticisms of vices, coverage of him, which spans a couple of pieces, but they do get that piece of his, his life, I mean. That it had more than anything. Like, imagine this. You're in hiding. And you, you. He he thinks of a way that not only can he get out of hiding, but he can be *******. He can benefit off of it and make money. You know what I mean? Like, he he did the perfect con. He's smart. So by the time that New Yorker article comes out, he's back to running a halfway house. He comes back to Monrovia, he starts another halfway house. He's running one again for these child soldiers in Monrovia. And this seems to be thanks. He gets the funding to do this from a white American. Lady named Brenda Webber, who saw the redemption of general **** naked, one of the vice documentaries, and contacted him on Facebook. Now she and her husband owns a small farm, how modern everything is all the time when you're talking Facebook. So she sees this guy and she is taken by him and she wants to help and she does this like. Big a lot of white ladies do where they decide, like and white dudes, just white people thing where they decide I want to help. Africa. Yeah, and this guy seems legit. Let me just give him a bunch of money to do a thing. So yeah, they they do this. They, they set up a halfway house using this lady's money. And in in The New Yorker interview this woman, she's getting grifted and conned out of her life savings. I also don't care too much, she says during the interview. Quote, I could just tell he was genuine. I knew he wasn't the same. Person, that he was a totally different man. And then she would go on to say **** like this. You should see them when someone cares, especially a white woman from America, and makes them feel like they are worth something for the first time in years. Jesus. This is what she's saying about, like, the child soldiers that she's helping to fund, like a like, well, when a white woman likes, then they feel great. Like, yeah, I don't care that this lady is getting grifted. Yeah, no, me either. But also, yeah, whole, like, psychological study about how serial killers or whatever. Even if they're in jail like women are, there's like, there's, it's certainly a thing that had a number of serial killers have had, like, women fall in love with them. I wonder what that's about. That's a bigger topic than we can get next time in therapy. Yeah. So yeah, so she's, she's at this point when New Yorker writes about them, she is sending blah, $800 a month. Half of it goes to him directly for him to live on and again to a white lady living in like, you know, running a pharmacy well. He's just he's living off $400.00 a month. It doesn't sound like a lot, but that's ten times the local wage, so that's pretty good money for him. The other half is supposed to go to run this home for child soldiers, right? But we'll talk about that in a second. It's also worth noting she's spending more than 800 bucks a month by the time The New Yorker gets to her. She says that in the first year she ran through their entire family savings account, a $40,000, and she's taking out like a $50,000 credit line in order to continue funding it. And she's. She's definitely the same. Kind of, like, really frustrating evangelical prosperity gospel **** that like blah, he is selling out. Maybe she like redemption Bonnie. Well, exact, she tells The New Yorker. I know everything's going to be fine. You can't give and give like that and not get something in return. And she's like hasn't told her husband she's spending all their money on this. And, like, but like, she believes, you know, you give money for God, and God will make you make it right. It's just so full of money back, you know? Yeah. And I think that New Yorker article makes it really clear. The vice, the redemption of general **** naked vice documentary. I actually. And this is like not the first thing they do about him. I don't think it's. Yeah, but it is it. I came away being like, well, this dudes a ******* con, man. I guess you can kind of make either conclusion from it. It's kind of murky. I mean, if you. Or easily. Or like if you have a predisposition to maybe believe religious stories about redemption or like someone that claims he found God. Like maybe that's something different. You know what I mean? I don't know. Yeah. Now, The New Yorker article, though, I I want to read another quote from it that kind of further makes that case. At one point, another resident of the house pulled me aside and told me that Blaggy was misappropriating the program's money for his own benefit. The administration is run by his entire family and no one really questions it sometimes, the young man added, the residents of the house went without breakfast, or their meals consisted of plain rice with salt and pepper. When Western reporters arrive, blah, you and his staff say, OK, stand in front of this camera and tell the man we are just. Joshua Blahyi beneficiaries but what have I benefited? When one of the residents texted Webber to report that they weren't being fed breakfast, she started sending an additional $300.00 a month, blah. He hadn't told her about the problem, she believed out of concern for her finances. I wholeheartedly trust Joshua, she went on. If he ever makes a mistake. It's not willfully now that Cohen has been successful in a lot of foreign journalists. The linchpin of his entire act, though, the meat thing that he makes sure to do whenever he's interviewed is find one of the people he victimized and asked them to forgive him on camera. Now, there are some of these people who he's like, helped in one way. He's given him money and he has like, good relations with them, but it is really ugly and a lot of them haven't. And he'll, like, harass them on camera to demand, like he'll say stuff like, you have to forgive me and I want to play a clip from one of these moments. He's this is a woman. He murdered her brother in front of her. So it's like, does he think they're less likely to say, I mean, yeah, that's probably what he's thinking. Like they're less likely to say watch it and watch it and watch her face. OK. Like, this is from 2011, 2011. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I beg you, forgive me. No, no, don't beg you. Already happy. I kill you better out of madness, but please, I will be able to play the better for you. I mean, I'm not be able to do everything that your brother can do, but I will stand there whenever you need a brotherly counsel. If whenever you need a battery protection. Trying to call on me. I beg you, please. So the whole time this has happened because if you just hear what he's saying, it may sound OK, she is turning away and trying to get away from him, and he has repeatedly standing in front of her and stopping her from leaving while he says all this. And there are people in the background, like nodding along 20, saying too, so it's not letting her go. When she wants to leave, there's no part of her that wants anything. What he's saying, like there's a moment that like where her eye is just like are so dead and they're staring off. I see he's like, I can be your brother. She's like, I'm out of here. Yeah. She's also cornered with a camera in her face, too. Yeah, exactly. Camera interface. Yeah, it's it's pretty gross. So, yeah, that's the episode. There's more to say about the Liberian Civil War. Charles Taylor just got sentenced to prison, by the way. He's one of the people who does not get like, they record the the truth and reconciliation thing recommends prosecution. Right. He goes to the. The International Criminal Court. Uh, and he's. Yeah, he does a whole. He does a whole thing, and he gets sentenced to, like, 50 years in prison. So that's good, I guess. I mean, whatever. Yeah. I mean, it's like, **** him. He shouldn't be allowed to just retire. It's good. It's good. It's good when war criminals get punished for being war criminals. I feel mixed about Blackie. Where? He's not doing nothing. And there's definitely people who, at least on camera, will say that, like, he's helped them. He's helped them after the war and stuff. But he's also like, he goes to all these revival meetings. He's like, raising money and it's questionable where it goes. And it's like, I don't know, I don't know what you do. I'm not going to tell the Liberians one way or the other. This is how you should handle the aftermath of your civil war. But also this this guy is a pretty familiar kind of grifter. Yeah, no, I agree. I usually these grifters. Somehow are able to live a long life just continuing some type of grift and like, look at him now, he's like, he's only 50. He has a you know what I mean? It's, I don't know. It's he's doing great. He's doing great, all things considered. He *******. He won. Yeah. You know who else wins? Shereen? Who? Everyone who listens to your plugs. That's correct. Robert. Wow, thank you so much. You can follow me if you want on the Internet. Twitter is Shiro hero 666 and Instagram is just Shiro hero. I have some poetry books out that you can buy if you want. And a podcast as well, ethnically ambiguous. And that's about that's that's enough for today. Yay. All right, *************. That's the episode. So get get out of here. Thanks for having me go home also, Robert. I do think, but we bonded on this episode. Do you feel it? We had, like, that whole discussion about whatever the **** that was. Yeah, that was like, that was a conversation that we just happened to record, you know what I mean? That was that was you want to you want to smoke weed and listen to King Crimson? Alright, OK, bye. Behind the ******** is a production of cool zone media from more from cool zone media. Visit our website coolzonemedia.com or check us out on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Hello, I'm Erica Kelly from the podcast Southern Fried True crime, and if you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's breaker handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to spreaker.com. 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