During Liberia’s 14-year civil war, a ruthless and feared warrior rose to oust their terrible dictator, former President Charles Taylor. It wasn’t at all for the right cause, as this warlord committed unimaginable heinous crimes resulting in 20,000 deaths. He was known by his nom de guerre “General Butt Naked.”

Freely Admitting His Crimes

General Blahyi trained child soldiers in Liberia not to fear death. Photograph: Chris Hondros/Getty Images.

As funny as his alias sounds, Joshua Milton Blahyi’s graphic deeds were nothing to laugh about. He controlled the streets of Monrovia wearing nothing but his sneakers, as he believed that he was invincible, for the babies he sacrificed offered the greatest amount of protection. He was, in fact, never hit by a bullet. The Liberian war lasted from 1989 to 2003, with a death toll of 250,000. Twenty thousand of those were caused by General Butt Naked. His only weapon was his machete and the 20,000 children he recruited as his soldiers, whom he taught that killing was a game. The excerpt of the record of his hearing is as follows:

“‘I recruited children who were nine or 10 years old.’ Is this correct?”

“Yes.”

“‘I planted violence into them. I explained to them that killing people was a game.’ Is this correct?”

“Correct.”

“‘When I shot and wounded an enemy, I would rip open his back and eat his live heart.’ Is this correct?”

“Let me be more precise…I also laid down the body and had my child soldiers cut the person to pieces so that they wouldn’t have any feelings for people.”

General Butt Naked’s soldiers would also bet on whether a pregnant woman was carrying a boy or a girl before they slit open her belly to check who was right.

He also confessed to pulling unsuspecting children in the water and breaking their necks just for fun.

Faith Gwae was one of General Butt Naked’s victims. Here’s her story from spiegel.de:

It was July 1991, and she and her family were living on the outskirts of Zwedru in eastern Liberia. When they turned the radio to the BBC, they heard the news about the war. They wondered whether they should stay or leave. It was the rainy season, and the rivers were swollen. The Cavalla River, which forms the border between Liberia and Ivory Coast, was impassable. “The war won’t last long,” her mother said, so the family decided to stay.

A group from the Krahn tribe was searching for enemies within the country, which, in a civil war, consisted of any member of another tribe. Her older brother, Daniel, hid a nanny from the Gio tribe who had been working for the family for years. “It’ll be okay,” 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 carrying guns as she estimates today.

They had heard that there was a Gio 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 Blahyi. Blahyi 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 and hip, methodically working his way up the body. Eventually, her brother fell silent.

Blahyi told everyone to lie on the ground. His men raped her mother and her sisters and then killed them. Gwae says: “They didn’t rape me, but they did things to me that I don’t want to talk about. They left me with a blemish that I will always have.” At some point, Blahyi said that things were moving too slowly and that there were other military operations to attend to. That was when he began to participate.

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He had done all these and more when he was just 19 years old.

A Changed Person?

In an unexpected turn of events, General Butt Naked is now Blahyi the Evangelist. When Taylor was ousted in 2003, he changed his course and decided to be a pastor. He also provides food and clothing to his former soldiers and has adopted three children, and his wife said he’s now a changed person. He thinks his children are proud of him.

 

Blahyi is now a priest. Photo: That Shelf

When he isn’t preaching, the now-clothed Blahyi spends his time visiting his victims and asking for “forgiveness that comes from the victim’s heart.” That includes Faith Gwae, who, just like the other 76 families he visited, did not want to do anything with him. Was he doing it in an effort to cover the murders that he did?

Why Is He Not in Prison?

A crime as brutal and heinous as what he did sure deserved a heavy punishment. Even he said that he would willingly accept life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Incredibly, the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission actually praised General Butt Naked for his candor and cooperation with them in confessing his crimes and recommended amnesty for his atrocities. He and the other warlords still walk free with nothing but the burden of their conscience as punishment.

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