MINNEAPOLIS — A member of the Liberian security forces under the regime of Liberian President Charles Taylor was removed Tuesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). Alexander Mentol Zinnah, 56, arrived in Liberia escorted by ERO officers on board an ICE charter removal flight and was turned over to Liberian law enforcement authorities.
In 2017, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) St. Paul arrested Zinnah for immigration violations and violating the terms of his parole into the U.S. HSI St. Paul’s investigation revealed Zinnah was a member of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), a rebel group led by Charles Taylor that engaged in a wide range of human rights abuses including massacres, torture, and kidnapping. Zinnah was also a member of the Liberian National Police and served as a commander in Grand Gedeh County, Liberia, during the time that Charles Taylor was President of Liberia. Charles Taylor was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to 50 years imprisonment by an international court for human rights violations in Liberia from 1997-2003. He is currently serving his sentence in the United Kingdom.
The immigration court issued Zinnah a final order of removal (deportation order) May 7, 2019. His appeal of the immigration judge’s decision was denied by the Board of Immigration appeals Jan. 6 and his petition of habeas corpus, requesting release from custody, was dismissed by a U.S. District Court on Feb. 14. The immigration case was litigated by ICE St. Paul Office of the Principal Legal Advisor.
The enforcement efforts targeting Zinnah were supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, track and prosecute human rights abusers, the HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.
Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 450 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and/order physically removed from the United States more than 1050 known or suspected human rights violators. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 167 such individuals from the United States.
Currently, HSI has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,640 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 76,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 315 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S.
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.