By December 15, 2010, it broke the record for longest serving spacecraft at Mars, with 3,340 days of operation. As of 2019 October it is in a polar orbit around Mars with a semi-major axis of about 3,800 km or 2,400 miles. It has enough propellant to function until 2025.
On May 28, 2002 (sol 210), NASA reported that Odyssey's GRS instrument had detected large amounts of hydrogen, a sign that there must be ice lying within a meter of the planet's surface, and proceeded to map the distribution of water below the shallow surface. The orbiter also discovered vast deposits of bulk water ice near the surface of equatorial regions.
Odyssey has also served as the primary means of communications for NASA's Mars surface explorers in the past decade, up to the Curiosity rover. By December 15, 2010, it broke the record for longest serving spacecraft at Mars, with 3,340 days of operation, claiming the title from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor. It currently holds the record for the longest-surviving continually active spacecraft in orbit around a planet other than Earth, ahead of the Pioneer Venus Orbiter (served 14 years) and the Mars Express (serving over 14 years), at 18 years, 8 months and 17 days.
In August 2000, NASA solicited candidate names for the mission. Out of 200 names submitted, the committee chose Astrobiological Reconnaissance and Elemental Surveyor, abbreviated ARES (a tribute to Ares, the Greek god of war). Faced with criticism that this name was not very compelling, and too aggressive, the naming committee reconvened. The candidate name "2001 Mars Odyssey" had earlier been rejected because of copyright and trademark concerns. However, NASA e-mailed Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka, who responded that he would be delighted to have the mission named after his books, and he had no objections. On September 20, NASA associate administrator Ed Weiler wrote to the associate administrator for public affairs recommending a name change from ARES to 2001 Mars Odyssey. Peggy Wilhide then approved the name change.
The three primary instruments Odyssey uses are the:
Mars Odyssey launched from Cape Canaveral on April 7, 2001, and arrived at Mars about 200 days later on October 24. The spacecraft's main engine fired in order to decelerate, which allowed it to be captured into orbit around Mars. Odyssey then spent about three months aerobraking, using friction from the upper reaches of the Martian atmosphere to gradually slow down and reduce and circularize its orbit. By using the atmosphere of Mars to slow the spacecraft in its orbit rather than firing its engine or thrusters, Odyssey was able to save more than 200 kilograms (440 lb) of propellant. This reduction in spacecraft weight allowed the mission to be launched on a Delta II 7925 launch vehicle, rather than a larger, more expensive launcher.
Aerobraking ended in January 2002, and Odyssey began its science mapping mission on February 19, 2002. Odyssey's original, nominal mission lasted until August 2004, but repeated mission extensions have kept the mission active.
About 85% of images and other data from NASA's twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have reached Earth via communications relay by Odyssey. The orbiter helped analyze potential landing sites for the rovers and performed the same task for NASA's Phoenix mission, which landed on Mars in May 2008. Odyssey aided NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which reached Mars in March 2006, by monitoring atmospheric conditions during months when the newly arrived orbiter used aerobraking to alter its orbit into the desired shape.
Odyssey is in a Sun-synchronous orbit, which provides consistent lighting for its photographs. On September 30, 2008 (sol 2465) the spacecraft altered its orbit to gain better sensitivity for its infrared mapping of Martian minerals. The new orbit eliminated the use of the gamma ray detector, due to the potential for overheating the instrument at the new orbit.
MARIE hardware, designed to measure radiation
The payload's MARIE radiation experiment stopped taking measurements after a large solar event bombarded the Odyssey spacecraft on October 28, 2003. Engineers believe the most likely cause is that a computer chip was damaged by a solar particle smashing into the MARIE computer board.
The orbiter's orientation is controlled by a set of three reaction wheels and a spare. When one failed in June 2012, the fourth was spun up and successfully brought into service. Since July 2012, Odyssey has been back in full, nominal operation mode following three weeks of 'safe' mode on remote maintenance.
On February 11, 2014, mission control accelerated Odyssey's drift toward a morning-daylight orbit to "enable observation of changing ground temperatures after sunrise and after sunset in thousands of places on Mars". The orbital change occurred gradually until November 2015. Those observations could yield insight about the composition of the ground and about temperature-driven processes, such as warm seasonal flows observed on some slopes, and geysers fed by spring thawing of carbon dioxide (CO2) ice near Mars' poles.
By 2008, Mars Odyssey had mapped the basic distribution of water below the shallow surface. The ground truth for its measurements came on July 31, 2008, when NASA announced that the Phoenix lander confirmed the presence of water on Mars, as predicted in 2002 based on data from the Odyssey orbiter. The science team is trying to determine whether the water ice ever thaws enough to be available for microscopic life, and if carbon-containing chemicals and other raw materials for life are present.
The orbiter also discovered vast deposits of bulk water ice near the surface of equatorial regions. Evidence for equatorial hydration is both morphological and compositional and is seen at both the Medusae Fossae formation and the Tharsis Montes.
Odyssey and Curiosity
Mars Odyssey's THEMIS instrument was used to help select a landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). Several days before MSL's landing in August 2012, Odyssey's orbit was altered to ensure that it would be able to capture signals from the rover during its first few minutes on the Martian surface.Odyssey also acts as a relay for UHF radio signals from the (MSL) rover Curiosity. Because Odyssey is in a Sun-synchronous orbit, it consistently passes over Curiosity's location at the same two times every day, allowing for convenient scheduling of contact with Earth.
^Christensen, P. R.; Jakosky, B. M.; Kieffer, H. H.; Malin, M. C.; McSween Jr., H. Y.; Nealson, K.; Mehall, G. L.; Silverman, S. H.; Ferry, S.; Caplinger, M.; Ravine, M. (2004). "The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) for the Mars 2001 Odyssey Mission". Space Science Reviews. 110 (1–2): 85. Bibcode:2004SSRv..110...85C. doi:10.1023/B:SPAC.0000021008.16305.94.
Payloads are separated by bullets ( · ), launches by pipes ( | ). Crewed flights are indicated in bold text. Uncatalogued launch failures are listed in italics. Payloads deployed from other spacecraft are denoted in brackets.
During the first year of the war, the RUF took control of large swathes of territory in eastern and southern Sierra Leone, which were rich in alluvial diamonds. The government's ineffective response to the RUF, and the disruption in government diamond production, precipitated a military coup d'état in April 1992 by the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC). By the end of 1993, the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) had succeeded in pushing the RUF rebels back to the Liberian border, but the RUF recovered and fighting continued. In March 1995, Executive Outcomes (EO), a South Africa-based private military company, was hired to repel the RUF. Sierra Leone installed an elected civilian government in March 1996, and the retreating RUF signed the Abidjan Peace Accord. Under UN pressure, the government terminated its contract with EO before the accord could be implemented, and hostilities recommenced.
In May 1997 a group of disgruntled SLA officers staged a coup and established the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) as the new government of Sierra Leone. The RUF joined with the AFRC to capture Freetown with little resistance. The new government, led by Johnny Paul Koroma, declared the war over. A wave of looting, rape, and murder followed the announcement. Reflecting international dismay at the overturning of the civilian government, ECOMOG forces intervened and retook Freetown on behalf of the government, but they found the outlying regions more difficult to pacify.
In January 1999, world leaders intervened diplomatically to promote negotiations between the RUF and the government. The Lome Peace Accord, signed on 27 March 1999, was the result. Lome gave Foday Sankoh, the commander of the RUF, the vice presidency and control of Sierra Leone's diamond mines in return for a cessation of the fighting and the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to monitor the disarmament process. RUF compliance with the disarmament process was inconsistent and sluggish, and by May 2000, the rebels were advancing again upon Freetown.
As the UN mission began to fail, the United Kingdom declared its intention to intervene in the former colony and Commonwealth member in an attempt to support the weak government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. With help from a renewed UN mandate and Guinean air support, the British Operation Palliser finally defeated the RUF, taking control of Freetown. On 18 January 2002, President Kabbah declared the Sierra Leone Civil War over.
In 1961, Sierra Leone gained its independence from the United Kingdom. In the years following the death of Sierra Leone’s first prime minister Sir Milton Margai in 1964, politics in the country were increasingly characterized by corruption, mismanagement, and electoral violence that led to a weak civil society, the collapse of the education system, and, by 1991, an entire generation of dissatisfied youth were attracted to the rebellious message of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and joined the organization.Albert Margai, unlike his half-brother Milton, did not see the state as a steward of the public, but instead as a tool for personal gain and self-aggrandizement and even used the military to suppress multi-party elections that threatened to end his rule.
When Siaka Stevens entered politics in 1968, Sierra Leone was a constitutional democracy. When he stepped down, seventeen years later, Sierra Leone was a one-party state. Stevens' rule, sometimes called "the 17 year plague of locusts", saw the destruction and perversion of every state institution. Parliament was undermined, judges were bribed, and the treasury was bankrupted to finance pet projects that supported insiders. When Stevens failed to co-opt his opponents, he often resorted to state sanctioned executions or exile.
In 1985, Stevens stepped down, and handed the nation’s preeminent position to Major General Joseph Momoh, a notoriously inept leader who maintained the status quo. During his seven-year tenure, Momoh welcomed the spread of unchecked corruption and complete economic collapse. With the state unable to pay its civil servants, those desperate enough ransacked and looted government offices and property. Even in Freetown, important commodities like gasoline were scarce. But the government hit rock bottom when it could no longer pay schoolteachers and the education system collapsed. Since only wealthy families could afford to pay private tutors, the bulk of Sierra Leone’s youth during the late 1980s roamed the streets aimlessly. As infrastructure and public ethics deteriorated in tandem, much of Sierra Leone’s professional class fled the country. By 1991, Sierra Leone was ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world, even though it benefited from ample natural resources including diamonds, gold, bauxite, rutile, iron ore, fish, coffee, and cocoa.
Diamonds and the "resource curse"
The Eastern and Southern districts in Sierra Leone, most notably the Kono and Kenema districts, are rich in alluvial diamonds, and more importantly, are easily accessible by anyone with a shovel, sieve, and transport. Since their discovery in the early 1930s, diamonds have been critical in financing the continuing pattern of corruption and personal aggrandizement at the expense of needed public services, institutions, and infrastructure. The phenomenon whereby countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to nonetheless be characterized by lower levels of economic development is known as the "resource curse".
Alluvial diamond miner
The presence of diamonds in Sierra Leone invited and led to the civil war in several ways. First, the highly unequal benefits resulting from diamond mining made ordinary Sierra Leoneans frustrated. Under the Stevens government, revenues from the National Diamond Mining Corporation (known as DIMINCO) – a joint government/DeBeers venture – were used for the personal enrichment of Stevens and of members of the government and business elite who were close to him. When DeBeers pulled out of the venture in 1984, the government lost direct control of the diamond mining areas. By the late 1980s, almost all of Sierra Leone's diamonds were being smuggled and traded illicitly, with revenues going directly into the hands of private investors. In this period the diamond trade was dominated by Lebanese traders and later (after a shift in favor on the part of the Momoh government) by Israelis with connections to the international diamond markets in Antwerp. Momoh made some efforts to reduce smuggling and corruption in the diamond mining sector, but he lacked the political clout to enforce the law. Even after the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) took power in 1992, ostensibly with the goal of reducing corruption and returning revenues to the state, high-ranking members of the government sold diamonds for their personal gain and lived extravagantly off the proceeds.
Diamonds also helped to arm the RUF rebels who used funds harvested from the alluvial diamond mines to purchase weapons and ammunition from neighboring Guinea, Liberia, and even SLA soldiers. But the most significant connection between diamonds and war is that the presence of easily extractable diamonds provided an incentive for violence. To maintain control of important mining districts like Kono, thousands of civilians were expelled and kept away from these important economic centers.
Although diamonds were a significant motivating and sustaining factor, there were other means of profiting from the Sierra Leone Civil War. For instance, gold mining was prominent in some regions. Even more common was cash crop farming through the use of forced labor. Looting during the Sierra Leone Civil War did not just center on diamonds, but also included that of currency, household items, food, livestock, cars, and international aid shipments. For Sierra Leoneans who did not have access to arable land, joining the rebel cause was an opportunity to seize property through the use of deadly force. But the most important reason why the civil war should not be entirely attributed to conflict over the economic benefits incurred from the alluvial diamond mines is that the pre-war frustrations and grievances did not just concern that of the diamond sector. More than twenty years of poor governance, poverty, corruption and oppression created the circumstances for the rise of the RUF, as ordinary people yearned for change.
As a result of the First Liberian Civil War, 80,000 refugees fled neighboring Liberia for the Sierra Leone – Liberian border. This displaced population, composed almost entirely of children, would prove to be an invaluable asset to the invading rebel armies because the refugee and detention centers, populated first by displaced Liberians and later by Sierra Leoneans, helped provide the manpower for the RUF’s insurgency. The RUF took advantage of the refugees, who were abandoned, starving, and in dire need of medical attention, by promising food, shelter, medical care, and looting and mining profits in return for their support. When this method of recruitment failed, as it often did for the RUF, youths were often coerced at the barrel of a gun to join the ranks of the RUF. After being forced to join, many child soldiers learned that the complete lack of law – as a result of the civil war – provided a unique opportunity for self-empowerment through violence and thus continued to support the rebel cause.
Russian businessman Viktor Bout supplied Charles Taylor with arms for use in Sierra Leone and had meetings with him about the operations.
The Sierra Leone Civil War
SLA response; Sobels
SLA soldiers and advisers
The initial rebellion could have easily been quelled in the first half of 1991. But the RUF – despite being both numerically inferior and extremely brutal against civilians – controlled two-thirds of Sierra Leone by the year’s end. The SLA’s equally poor behavior made this outcome possible. Often afraid to directly confront or unable to locate the elusive RUF, government soldiers were brutal and indiscriminate in their search for rebels or sympathizers among the civilian population. After retaking captured towns, the SLA would perform a ‘mopping up’ operation in which the towns people were transported to concentration camp styled ‘strategic hamlets’ far from their homes in Eastern and Southern Sierra Leone under the pretense of separating the population from the insurgents. However, in many cases, this was followed by much looting and theft after the villagers were evacuated.
The SLA's sordid behavior inevitably led to the alienation of many civilians and pushed some Sierra Leoneans to join the rebel cause. With morale low and rations even lower, many SLA soldiers discovered that they could do better by joining with the rebels in looting civilians in the countryside instead of fighting against them. The local civilians referred to these soldiers as ‘sobels’ or ‘soldiers by day, rebels by night’ because of their close ties to the RUF. By mid-1993, the two opposing sides became virtually indistinguishable. For these reasons, civilians increasingly relied on an irregular force called the Kamajors for their protection.
A grassroots militia force, the Kamajors operated invisibly in familiar territory and was a significant impediment to marauding government and RUF troops. For displaced and unprotected Sierra Leonans, joining the Kamajors was a means of taking up arms to defend family and home due to the SLA’s perceived incompetence and active collusion with the rebel enemy. The Kamajors clashed with both government and RUF forces and was instrumental in countering government soldiers and rebels who were looting villages. The success of the Kamajors raised calls for its expansion, and members of street gangs and deserters were also co-opted into the organization. However, the Kamajors became corrupt and deeply involved in extortion, murder, and kidnappings by the end of the conflict.
National Provisional Ruling Council
Within one year of fighting, the RUF offensive had stalled, but it still remained in control of large territories in Eastern and Southern Sierra Leone leaving many villages unprotected while also disrupting food and government diamond production. Soon the government was unable to pay both its civil servants and the SLA. As a result, the Momoh regime lost all remaining credibility and a group of disgruntled junior officers led by Captain Valentine Strasser overthrew Momoh on 29 April 1992. Strasser justified the coup and the establishment of the National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) by referencing the corrupt Momoh regime and its inability to resuscitate the economy, provide for the people of Sierra Leone, and repel the rebel invaders. The NPRC’s coup was largely popular because it promised to bring peace to Sierra Leone. But the NPRC’s promise would prove to be short lived.
Woman in a Sierra Leone village
In March 1993, with much help from ECOMOG troops provided by Nigeria, the SLA recaptured the Koidu and Kono diamond districts and pushed the RUF to the Sierra Leone – Liberia border. The RUF was facing supply problems as the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) gains inside Liberia were restricting the ability of Charles Taylor’s NPFL to trade with the RUF. By the end of 1993, many observers thought that the war was over because for the first time in the conflict the Sierra Leone Army was able to establish itself in the Eastern and the Southern mining districts.
However, with senior government officials neglectful of the conditions faced by SLA soldiers, front line soldiers became resentful of their poor conditions and began helping themselves to Sierra Leone’s rich natural resources. This included alluvial diamonds as well as looting and ‘sell game’, a tactic in which government forces would withdraw from a town but not before leaving arms and ammunition for the roving rebels in return for cash. Renegade SLA soldiers even clashed with Kamajor units on a number of occasions when the Kamajors intervened to halt the looting and mining. The NPRC government also had a motivation for allowing the war to continue, since as long as the country was at war the military government would not be called upon to hand over rule to a democratically elected civilian government. The war dragged on as a low intensity conflict until January 1995 when RUF forces and dissident SLA elements seized the SIEROMCO (bauxite) and Sierra Rutile (titanium dioxide) mines in the Moyamba and Bonthe districts in the country's south west, furthering the government’s economic struggles and enabling a renewed RUF advance on the capital at Freetown.
In March 1995, with the RUF within twenty miles of Freetown, Executive Outcomes, a private military company from South Africa, arrived in Sierra Leone. The government paid EO $1.8 million per month (financed primarily by the International Monetary Fund), to accomplish three goals: return the diamond and mineral mines to the government, locate and destroy the RUF’s headquarters, and operate a successful propaganda program that would encourage local Sierra Leoneans to support the government of Sierra Leone. EO’s military force consisted of 500 military advisers and 3,000 highly trained and well-equipped combat-ready soldiers, backed by tactical air support and transport. Executive Outcomes employed black Angolans and Namibians from apartheid-era South Africa’s former 32 Battalion, with an officer corps of white South Africans.Harper’s Magazine described this controversial unit as a collection of former spies, assassins, and crack bush guerrillas, most of whom had served for fifteen to twenty years in South Africa’s most notorious counter insurgency units.
As a military force, EO was extremely skilled and conducted a highly successful counter insurgency against the RUF. In just ten days of fighting, EO was able to drive the RUF forces back sixty miles into the interior of the country. EO outmatched the RUF forces in all operations. In just seven months, EO, with support from loyal SLA and the Kamajors battalions, recaptured the diamond mining districts and the Kangari Hills, a major RUF stronghold. A second offensive captured the provincial capital and the largest city in Sierra Leone and destroyed the RUF’s main base of operations near Bo, finally forcing the RUF to admit defeat and sign the Abidjan Peace Accord in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire on 30 November 1996. This period of relative peace also allowed the country to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in February and March 1996.Ahmad Tejan Kabbah (of the Sierra Leone People's Party [SLPP]), a diplomat who had worked at the UN for more than 20 years, won the presidential election.
The Abidjan Peace Accord mandated that Executive Outcomes was to pull out within five weeks after the arrival of a neutral peacekeeping force. The main stumbling block that prevented Sankoh from signing the agreement sooner was the number and type of peacekeepers that were to monitor the ceasefire. Additionally, continued Kamajor attacks and the fear of punitive tribunals following demobilization kept many rebels in the bush despite their dire situation. However, in January 1997, the Kabbah government – beset by demands to reduce expenditures by the International Monetary Fund – ordered EO to leave the country, even though a neutral monitoring force had yet to arrive. The departure of EO opened up an opportunity for the RUF to regroup for renewed military attacks. The March 1997 arrest of RUF leader Foday Sankoh in Nigeria also angered RUF members, who reacted with escalated violence. By the end of March 1997, the peace accord had collapsed.
After the departure of Executive Outcomes, the credibility of the Kabbah government declined, especially among members of the SLA, who saw themselves being eclipsed by both the RUF on one side and the independent but pro-government Kamajors on the other. On 25 May 1997, a group of disgruntled SLA officers freed and armed 600 prisoners from the Pademba Road prison in Freetown. One of the prisoners, Major Johnny Paul Koroma, emerged as the leader of the coup and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) proclaimed itself the new government of Sierra Leone. After receiving the blessing of Foday Sankoh, who was then living under house arrest in Nigeria, members of the RUF – supposedly on its last legs – were ordered out of the bush to participate in the coup. Without hesitation and encountering only light resistance from SLA loyalists, 5,000 rag-tag rebel fighters marched 100 miles and overran the capital. Without fear or reluctance, RUF and SLA dissidents then proceeded to parade peacefully together. Koroma then appealed to Nigeria for the release of Sankoh, appointing the absent leader to the position of deputy chairman of the AFRC. The joint AFRC/RUF leadership then proclaimed that the war had been won, and a great wave of looting and reprisals against civilians in Freetown (dubbed "Operation Pay Yourself" by some of its participants) followed. President Kabbah, surrounded only by his bodyguards, left by helicopter for exile in nearby Guinea.
The AFRC junta was opposed by members of Sierra Leone's civil society such as student unions, journalists associations, women's groups and others, not only because of the violence it unleashed but because of its political attacks on press freedoms and civil rights. The international response to the coup was also overwhelmingly negative. The UN and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) condemned the coup, foreign governments withdrew their diplomats and missions (and in some cases evacuated civilians) from Freetown, and Sierra Leone's membership in the Commonwealth was suspended. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also condemned the AFRC coup, and ECOMOG forces demanded that the new junta return power peacefully to the Kabbah government or risk sanctions and increased military presence.
ECOMOG’s intervention in Sierra Leone brought the AFRC/RUF rebels to the negotiating table where, in October 1997, they agreed to a tentative peace known as the Conakry Peace Plan. Despite having agreed to the plan, the AFRC/RUF continued to fight. In March 1998, overcoming entrenched AFRC positions, the ECOMOG forces retook the capital and reinstated the Kabbah government, but let the rebels flee without further harassment. The regions lying just beyond Freetown proved much more difficult to pacify. Thanks in part to bad road conditions, lack of support aircraft, and a revenge driven rebel force, ECOMOG’s offensive ground to a halt just outside Freetown. ECOMOG’s forces suffered from several weakness, the most important being, poor command and control, low morale, poor training in counterinsurgency, low manpower, limited air and sea capability, and poor funding.
Unable to consistently defend itself against the AFRC/RUF rebels, the Kabbah regime was forced to make serious concessions in the Lome Peace Agreement of July 1999.
Given that Nigeria was due to recall its ECOMOG forces without achieving a tactical victory over the RUF, the international community intervened diplomatically to promote negotiations between the AFRC/RUF rebels and the Kabbah regime. The Lome Peace Accord, signed on 7 July 1999, is controversial in that Sankoh was pardoned for treason, granted the position of Vice President, and made chairman of the commission that oversaw Sierra Leone’s diamond mines. In return, the RUF was ordered to demobilize and disarm its armies under the supervision of an international peacekeeping force which would initially be under the authority of both ECOMOG and the United Nations. The Lome Peace Agreement was the subject of protests both in Sierra Leone and by international human rights groups abroad, mainly because it handed over to Sankoh, the commander of the brutal RUF, the second most powerful position in the country, and control over all of Sierra Leone’s lucrative diamond mines.
Following the Lome Peace Agreement, the security situation in Sierra Leone was still unstable because many rebels refused to commit themselves to the peace process. The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration camps were an attempt to convince the rebel forces to literally exchange their weapons for food, clothing, and shelter. During a six-week quarantine period, former combatants were taught basic skills that could be put to use in a peaceful profession after they return to society. After 2001, DDR camps became increasingly effective and by 2002 they had collected over 45,000 weapons and hosted over 70,000 former combatants.
In October 1999 the UN established the United Nations Mission to Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). The main objective of UNAMSIL was to assist with the disarmament process and enforce the terms established under the Lome Peace Agreement. Unlike other previous neutral peacekeeping forces, UNAMSIL brought serious military power. The original multi-national force was commanded by General Vijay Jetley of India. Jetley later resigned and was replaced by Lieutenant General Daniel Opande of Kenya in November 2000. Jetley had accused Nigerian political and military officials at the top of the UN mission of "sabotaging peace" in favor of national interests, and alleged that Nigerian army commanders illegally mined diamonds in league with RUF. The Nigerian army called for General Jetley's resignation immediately after the report was released, saying they could no longer work with him.
UNAMSIL forces began arriving in Sierra Leone in December 1999. At that time the maximum number of troops to be deployed was set at 6,000. Only a few months later, though, in February 2000, a new UN resolution authorized the deployment of 11,000 combatants. In March 2001 that number was increased to 17,500 troops, making it at the time the largest UN force in existence, and UNAMSIL soldiers were deployed in the RUF-held diamond areas. Despite these numbers, UNAMSIL was frequently rebuffed and humiliated by RUF rebels, being subjected to attacks, obstruction and disarmament. In the most egregious example, in May 2000 over 500 UNAMSIL peacekeepers were captured by the RUF and held hostage. Using the weapons and armored personnel carriers of the captured UNAMSIL troops, the rebels advanced towards Freetown, taking over the town of Lunsar to its northeast. For over a year later, the UNAMSIL force meticulously avoided intervening in RUF controlled mining districts lest another major incident occur. After the UNAMSIL force had essentially rearmed the RUF, a call for a new military intervention was made to save the UNAMSIL hostages and the government of Sierra Leone. After Operation Palliser and Operation Khukri the situation stabilized and UNAMSIL gain control.
In late 1999, the UN Security Council asked Russia for participation in a peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone. The Federation Council of Russia decided to send 4 Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters with 115 crew and technical personnel into Sierra Leone. Many of them had combat experience in Afghanistan and Chechnya. The destroyed Lungi civil airfield in the suburbs of Freetown became their base of operations. A Ukrainian Detached Recovery and Restoring Battalion, and aviation team were stationed near Freetown. The two post-Soviet troop contingents got along well, and left together after the UN mandate for peacekeeping operations ended in June 2005.
Operation Khukri was a unique multinational operation launched in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), involving India, Nepal, Ghana, Britain and Nigeria. The aim of the operation was to break the two-month-long siege laid by armed cadres of the RUF around two companies of 5/8 Gorkha Rifles (GR) Infantry Battalion Group at Kailahun by affecting a fighting break out and redeploying them with the main battalion at Daru. About 120 special forces operators commanded by Major (now Lt. Col.) Harinder Sood were airlifted from New Delhi to spearhead the mission to rescue 223 men of the 5/8 Gorkha Rifles who were surrounded and besieged by the RUF rebels for over 75 days. The mission was a total success which resulted in safe rescue of all the besieged men and inflicted several hundreds of casualties on the RUF, where Indian troops were part of a multinational UN peacekeeping force.
A British Sea Harrier jet, such as those used to support government forces
In May 2000, the situation on the ground had deteriorated to such an extent that British paratroopers were deployed in Operation Palliser to evacuate foreign nationals and establish order. They stabilized the situation, and were the catalyst for a ceasefire that helped end the war. The British forces, under the command of Brigadier David Richards, expanded their original mandate, which was limited to evacuating commonwealth citizens, and now aimed to save UNAMSIL from the brink of collapse. At the time of the British intervention in May 2000, half of the country remained under the RUF’s control. The 1,200 man British ground force – supported by air and sea power – shifted the balance of power in favor of the government and the rebel forces were easily repelled from the areas beyond Freetown.
End of the war
Several factors led to the end of the civil war. First, Guinean cross-border bombing raids against villages believed to be bases used by the RUF working in conjunction with Guinean dissidents were very effective in routing the rebels. Another factor encouraging a less combative RUF was a new UN resolution that demanded that the government of Liberia expel all RUF members, end their financial support of the RUF, and halt the illicit diamond trade. Finally, the Kamajors, feeling less threatened now that the RUF was disintegrating in the face of a robust opponent, failed to incite violence like they had done in the past. With their backs against the wall and without any international support, the RUF forces signed a new peace treaty within a matter of weeks.
On 18 January 2002, President Kabbah declared the eleven-year-long Sierra Leone Civil War officially over. By most estimates, over 50,000 people had lost their lives during the war. Countless more fell victim to the reprehensible and perverse behavior of the combatants. In May 2002 President Kabbah and his SLPP, won landslide victories in the presidential and legislative elections. Kabbah was re-elected for a five-year term. The RUF's political wing, the Revolutionary United Front Party (RUFP), failed to win a single seat in parliament. The elections were marked by irregularities and allegations of fraud, but not to a degree that significantly affected the outcome.
War atrocities and crimes against humanity
During the Sierra Leone Civil War numerous atrocities were committed including war rape, mutilation, and mass murder, causing many of the perpetrators to be tried in international criminal courts, and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission. A 2001 overview noted that there had been "serious and grotesque human rights violations" in Sierra Leone since its civil war began in 1991. The rebels, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), had "committed horrendous abuses". The report noted that "25 times as many people" had already been killed in Sierra Leone than had been killed in Kosovo at the point when the international community decided to take action. "In fact, it has been pointed out by many that the atrocities in Sierra Leone have been worse than was seen in Kosovo."
A school in Koindu destroyed by RUF rebel forces. In total, 1,270 primary schools were destroyed in the War.
These crimes included but are not limited to:
List of crimes
Mass killings of civilians – The most notorious mass killing was the 1999 Freetown massacre. This took place in January 1999 when the AFRC/RUF set upon Freetown in a bloody assault known as "Operation No Living Thing" in which rebels entered neighborhoods to loot, rape and kill indiscriminately. A Human Rights Watch report documented the atrocities committed during this attack. The report estimated that over 7,000 people were killed and that at least half of them were civilians. Reports from survivors describe perverse brutality including incinerating people alive while locked in their houses, hacking civilians' hands and other limbs off with machetes and even eating them.
Drafting of Underage Soldiers – About one quarter of the soldiers serving in the government armed forces during the civil war were under age 18. "Recruitment methods were brutal – sometimes children were abducted, sometimes they were forced to kill members of their own families so as to make them outcasts, sometimes they were drugged, sometimes they were forced into conscription by threatening family members." Child soldiers were deliberately overwhelmed with violence "in order to completely desensitize them and make them mindless killing machines".
Mass War Rape – During the war gender specific violence was widespread. Rape,sexual slavery and forced marriages were commonplace during the conflict. The majority of assaults were carried out by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), The Civil Defence Forces (CDF), and the Sierra Leone Army (SLA) have also been implicated in sexual violence. The RUF, even though they had access to women, who had been abducted for use as either sex slaves or combatants, frequently raped non-combatants. The militia also carved the RUF initials into women's bodies, which placed them at risk of being mistaken for enemy combatants if they were captured by government forces. Women who were in the RUF were expected to provide sexual services to the male members of the militia. And of all women interviewed, only two had not been repeatedly subjected to sexual violence; gang rape and individual rapes were commonplace. A report from PHR stated that the RUF was guilty of 93 per cent of sexual assaults during the conflict. The RUF was notorious for human rights violations, and regularly amputated arms and legs from their victims.Trafficking by military and militias of women and girls, for use as sex slaves is well documented. With reports from recent conflicts such as those in, Angola, the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the DRC, Indonesia, Colombia, Burma and Sudan. During the decade long civil conflict in Sierra Leone, women were used as sex slaves having been trafficked into refugee camps. According to PHR, one third of women who reported sexual violence had been kidnapped, with fifteen per cent forced into sexual slavery. The PHR report also showed that ninety four per cent of internally displaced households had been victims of some form of violence. PHR estimated that there were between 215,000 and 257,000 victims of rape during the conflict.
Cry Freetown the 2000 documentary film directed by Sorious Samura shows accounts of the victims of the Sierra Leone Civil War and depicts the most brutal period with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels burning houses and The ECOMOG soldiers summarily executing suspects. Sorious Samura films Nigerian soldiers executing suspects without trial including women and children.
After the war
On 28 July 2002 the British withdrew a 200-strong military contingent that had been in country since the summer of 2000, leaving behind a 140-strong military training team with orders to professionalize the SLA and Navy. In November 2002, UNAMSIL began a gradual reduction from a peak level of 17,800 personnel. Under pressure from the British, the withdrawal slowed, so that by October 2003 the UNAMSIL contingent still stood at 12,000 men. As peaceful conditions continued through 2004, however, UNAMSIL drew down its forces to slightly over 4,100 by December 2004. The UN Security Council extended UNAMSIL’s mandate until June 2005 and again until December 2005. UNAMSIL completed the withdrawal of all troops in December 2005 and was succeeded by the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL).
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
The Lome Peace Accord called for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to provide a forum for both victims and perpetrators of human rights violations during the conflict to tell their stories and facilitate healing. Subsequently, the Sierra Leonean government asked the UN to help set up a Special Court for Sierra Leone, which would try those who "bear the greatest responsibility for the commission of crimes against humanity, war crimes and serious violations of international humanitarian law, as well as crimes under relevant Sierra Leonean law within the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996." Both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Special Court began operating in the summer of 2002.
After the war many of the children who were abducted and used in the conflict need some form of rehabilitation, debriefing and care after the conflict came to an end. Only a handful of the children could be immediately sent home after six weeks of debriefing at a center for ex-combatants. This is due to many of the children suffering from drug withdraw symptoms, brainwashing, physical and mental wounds, as well as a lack of memory of who they were or where they came from before the conflict.
There was an estimated one to two million displaced persons and refugees who wanted to or needed to be returned to their villages.
Reportedly thousands of small villages had been severely damaged due to looting, and targeted destruction of property that was held by perceived enemies. There was also heavy destruction of clinics and hospitals, leading to a concern about infrastructure stability.
The European Union [EU] sent budgetary support with the support of the IMF, the World Bank and the UK in an effort to stabilize the economy and the government. The amount; €4,75 million was made available by the EU from 2000 to 2001, for the government finance interalia, and social services. After the contribution made by the Bangladesh UN Peacekeeping Force, the government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah declared Bengali an honorary official language in December 2002.
Diamond revenues in Sierra Leone have increased more than tenfold since the end of the conflict, from $10 million in 2000 to about $130 million in 2004, although according to the UNAMSIL surveys of mining sites, "more than 50 per cent of diamond mining still remains unlicensed and reportedly considerable illegal smuggling of diamonds continues".
Stephen J. Rapp, chief prosecutor
On 13 January 2003, a small group of armed men tried unsuccessfully to break into an armory in Freetown. Former AFRC-junta leader Koroma, after being linked to the raid, went into hiding. In March, the Special Court for Sierra Leone issued its first indictments for war crimes during the civil war. Sankoh, already in custody, was indicted, along with notorious RUF field commander Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie, Koroma, the Minister of Interior and former head of the Civil Defense Force, Samuel Hinga Norman, and several others. Norman was arrested when the indictments were announced, while Bockarie and Koroma remained at large (presumably in Liberia). On 5 May 2003, Bockarie was killed in Liberia. President Taylor expected to be indicted by the Special Court and had feared Bockarie’s testimony. He is suspected of ordering Bockarie's murder, although no indictments are pending.
Several weeks later, word filtered out of Liberia that Koroma had been killed as well, although his death remains unconfirmed. In June the Special Court announced Taylor’s indictment for war crimes. Sankoh died in prison in Freetown on 29 July 2003 from a pulmonary embolism. He had been ailing since a stroke the year prior.
In August 2003 President Kabbah testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on his role during the civil war. On 1 December 2003, Major GeneralTom Carew, who had been the Chief of Defence Staff for the Government of Sierra Leone and an important figure in the SLA, was reassigned to civilian duties. In June 2007, the Special Court found three of the eleven people indicted – Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu – guilty of war crimes, including acts of terrorism, collective punishments, extermination, murder, rape, outrages upon personal dignity, conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces, enslavement and pillage.
The use of children in both the rebel (RUF) military and the government militia is depicted in Ishmael Beah's 2007 memoir, A Long Way Gone.
In the 2012 Documentary La vita non perde valore, by Wilma Massucco, former child soldiers and some of their victims talk about the way how they feel and live, ten years after the Sierra Leone civil war ending, thanks to the personal, familiar and social rehabilitation provided to them by Father Giuseppe Berton, an Italian missionary of the Xaverian order. The documentary has been analyzed in different Universities, becoming subject of various degrees,.
Mariatu Kamara wrote about being attacked by the rebels and having her hands chopped off in her book The Bite of the Mango. Ishmael Beah wrote a foreword to Kamara's book.
Jonathon Torgovnik wrote about eight women that he interviewed after the war had ended in his book; Girl Soldier: Life After War in Sierra Leone. In the book he describes the experiences of the eight women who were abducted during the war and forced to fight in it.
The documentary movie Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars tells the story of a group of refugees who fled to Guinea and created a band to ease the pain of the constant difficulty of living away from home and community after the atrocities of war and mutilation.
In 2000 the Sierra Leonean journalist, cameraman and editor, Sorious Samura released his documentary Cry Freetown. The self-funded film depicted the most brutal period of the civil war in Sierra Leone with RUF rebels capturing the capital city in the late 1990s. The film won, among other awards, an Emmy Award and a Peabody.
^Malan, Mark, Phenyo Rakate and Angela MacIntyre (January 2002). "Chapter Three: UNAMSIL's Troubled Debut". Peacekeeping in Sierra Leone: UNAMSIL Hits the Home Straight. Pretoria, South Africa: Institute for Security Studies. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2010.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
Heupel, Monika & Bernhard Zang (2010). "On the Transformation of Warfare: a Plausibility Probe of the New War Thesis". Journal of International Relations and Development. 13 (1): 26–58. doi:10.1057/jird.2009.31.
Jalloh, S. Balimo (2001). "Conflicts, Resources and Social Instability in Subsahara Africa – The Sierra Leone Case". Internationales Afrika-Forum. Germany. 37 (2): 166–80.
Iraq disarmament crisis: UN Security Council Resolution 1441: The United Nations Security Council unanimously approves a resolution on Iraq, forcing Saddam Hussein to disarm or face “serious consequences”.
Resolution 1441 stated that Iraq was in material breach of the ceasefire terms presented under the terms of Resolution 687. Iraq's breaches related not only to weapons of mass destruction (WMD), but also the known construction of prohibited types of missiles, the purchase and import of prohibited armaments, and the continuing refusal of Iraq to compensate Kuwait for the widespread looting conducted by its troops during the 1990–1991 invasion and occupation. It also stated that "...false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations."
"In violation of Security CouncilResolution 1373, Iraq supports terrorist organizations that direct violence against Iran, Israel, and Western governments....And al-Qaida terrorists escaped from Afghanistan are known to be in Iraq."
Iraq used proceeds from the "oil for food" U.N. program to purchase weapons rather than food for its people.
Iraq flagrantly violated the terms of the weapons inspection program before discontinuing it altogether.
Following the speech, intensive negotiations began with other members of the Security Council. In particular, three permanent members (with veto power) of the Council were known to have misgivings about an invasion of Iraq: Russia, China, and France.
In the meantime, Iraq, while denying all charges, announced that it would permit the re-entry of United Nations arms inspectors into Iraq. The United States characterized this as a ploy by Iraq and continued to call for a Security Council resolution which would authorize the use of military force.
The resolution text was drafted jointly by the United States and the United Kingdom, the result of eight weeks of tumultuous negotiations, particularly with Russia and France. France questioned the phrase "serious consequences" and stated repeatedly that any "material breach" found by the inspectors should not automatically lead to war; instead the UN should pass another resolution deciding on the course of action. In favour of this view is the fact that previous resolutions legitimizing war under Chapter VII used much stronger terms, like "...all necessary means..." in Resolution 678 in 1990 and that Resolution 1441 stated that the Security Council shall "remain seized of the matter."
Security Council vote
On 8 November 2002, the Security Council passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous 15–0 vote; Russia, China, France, and Arab states such as Syria voted in favor, giving Resolution 1441 wider support than even the 1990 Gulf War resolution.
[T]his resolution contains no "hidden triggers" and no "automaticity" with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the Council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA or a Member State, the matter will return to the Council for discussions as required in paragraph 12. The resolution makes clear that any Iraqi failure to comply is unacceptable and that Iraq must be disarmed. And, one way or another, Iraq will be disarmed. If the Security Council fails to act decisively in the event of further Iraqi violations, this resolution does not constrain any Member State from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq or to enforce relevant United Nations resolutions and protect world peace and security.
The ambassador for the United Kingdom, the co-sponsor of the resolution, said:
We heard loud and clear during the negotiations the concerns about "automaticity" and "hidden triggers" – the concern that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action; that on a decision so crucial any Iraqi violations should be discussed by the Council. Let me be equally clear in response... There is no "automaticity" in this resolution. If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the Council for discussion as required in paragraph 12. We would expect the Security Council then to meet its responsibilities.
The message was further confirmed by the ambassador for Syria:
Syria voted in favour of the resolution, having received reassurances from its sponsors, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, and from France and Russia through high-level contacts, that it would not be used as a pretext for striking against Iraq and does not constitute a basis for any automatic strikes against Iraq. The resolution should not be interpreted, through certain paragraphs, as authorizing any State to use force. It reaffirms the central role of the Security Council in addressing all phases of the Iraqi issue.
Iraq agreed to the Resolution on 13 November. Weapons inspectors returned on 27 November, led by Hans Blix of UNMOVIC and Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The inspectors had been absent from Iraq since December 1998 when they were withdrawn immediately prior to Operation Desert Fox.
Inspectors began visiting sites where WMD production was suspected, but found no evidence of such activities, except for 18 undeclared 122mm chemical rockets that were destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision. As was discovered after the invasion of Iraq, no production of WMDs was taking place, and no stockpiles existed. U.N. inspectors also found that the Al-Samoud 2 and Al-fatah missiles violated U.N. range restrictions, the former also being partially destroyed under UNMOVIC supervision. Debate about Resolution 1441 therefore turns on whether, despite the absence of WMDs and the acceptance of inspections, Iraq failed to comply with the terms of the Resolution, and whether an invasion was justified in the absence of any further UN Security resolutions on the subject.
On 7 December 2002, Iraq filed its 12,000-page weapons declaration with the UN in order to meet requirements for this resolution. The five permanent members of the Security Council received unedited versions of the report, while an edited version was made available for other UN Member States. On 19 December, Hans Blix reported before the United Nations and stated in regards to Iraq's 7 December report (unedited version): "During the period 1991–1998, Iraq submitted many declarations called full, final and complete. Regrettably, much in these declarations proved inaccurate or incomplete or was unsupported or contradicted by evidence. In such cases, no confidence can arise that proscribed programmes or items have been eliminated." By March, Blix declared that the 7 December report had not brought any new documentary evidence to light.
Iraq continued to fail to account for substantial chemical and biological stockpiles which UNMOVIC inspectors had confirmed as existing as late as 1998. Iraq claimed that it had disposed of its anthrax stockpiles at a specific site, but UNMOVIC found this impossible to confirm since Iraq had not allowed the destruction to be witnessed by inspectors as required by the pertinent Resolutions. Chemical testing done at the site was unable to show that any anthrax had been destroyed there.
Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei presented several reports to the UN detailing Iraq's level of compliance with Resolution 1441. On 27 January 2003 Chief UN Weapons Inspector Blix addressed the UN Security Council and stated "Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance–not even today–of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace." Blix went on to state that the Iraqi regime had allegedly misplaced "1,000 tonnes" of VX nerve agent—one of the most toxic ever developed.
By mid-February the issues of anthrax, the nerve agent VX and long-range missiles remained unresolved. Blix's 7 March report stated "Iraq, with a highly developed administrative system, should be able to provide more documentary evidence about its proscribed weapons programmes. Only a few new such documents have come to light so far and been handed over since we began inspections."
Blix's report also stated:
What are we to make of these activities? One can hardly avoid the impression that, after a period of somewhat reluctant cooperation, there has been an acceleration of initiatives from the Iraqi side since the end of January. This is welcome, but the value of these measures must be soberly judged by how many question marks they actually succeed in straightening out. This is not yet clear. Against this background, the question is now asked whether Iraq has cooperated "immediately, unconditionally and actively" with UNMOVIC, as required under paragraph 9 of resolution 1441 (2002). The answers can be seen from the factual descriptions I have provided. However, if more direct answers are desired, I would say the following:
The Iraqi side has tried on occasion to attach conditions, as it did regarding helicopters and U-2 planes. Iraq has not, however, so far persisted in these or other conditions for the exercise of any of our inspection rights. If it did, we would report it.
It is obvious that, while the numerous initiatives, which are now taken by the Iraqi side with a view to resolving some long-standing open disarmament issues, can be seen as "active", or even "proactive", these initiatives 3–4 months into the new resolution cannot be said to constitute "immediate" cooperation. Nor do they necessarily cover all areas of relevance. They are nevertheless welcome and UNMOVIC is responding to them in the hope of solving presently unresolved disarmament issues.
At this point, the US Administration asserted that Iraq remained in material breach of the UN Resolutions, and that, under 1441, this meant the Security Council had to convene immediately "in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security".
Before the meeting took place, French president Jacques Chirac declared on 10 March that France would veto any resolution which would automatically lead to war. This caused open displays of dismay by the U.S. and British governments. The drive by Britain for unanimity and a "second resolution" was effectively abandoned at that point.
In the leadup to the meeting, it became apparent that a majority of UNSC members would oppose any resolution leading to war. As a result, no such resolution was put to the Council.
At the Azores conference of 16 March, Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Spanish prime minister José María Aznar as well as Portuguese prime minister José Manuel Barroso who hosted the meeting, announced the imminent deadline of 17 March for complete Iraqi compliance, with statements such as "Tomorrow is a moment of truth for the world". On the 17th, speeches by Bush and UK Foreign SecretaryJack Straw explicitly declared the period of diplomacy to be over, as declared by Resolution 1441's prohibition on giving Iraq new opportunities for compliance, and that no further authorization from the UN would be sought before an invasion of Iraq (see 2003 invasion of Iraq). The USA and Britain, while admitting that such a resolution was diplomatically desirable, insisted that Iraq had now been given enough time (noting also the time since the first disarmament resolutions of 1991) to disarm or provide evidence thereof, and that war was legitimized by 1441 and previous UN resolutions. Non-permanent Security Council member Spain declared itself with the USA and Britain. Nevertheless, this position taken by the Bush administration and its supporters, has been and still is being disputed by numerous legal experts. According to most members of the Security Council, it is up to the council itself, and not individual members, to determine how the body's resolutions are to be enforced.
The Bush administration commissioned the Iraq Survey Group to determine whether in fact any WMD existed in Iraq. After a year and half of meticulously combing through the country, the administration's own inspectors reported:
While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad's desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered.
The review was conducted by Charles A. Duelfer and the Iraq Survey Group. In October 2004, Bush said of Duelfer's analysis: "The chief weapons inspector, Charles Duelfer, has now issued a comprehensive report that confirms the earlier conclusion of David Kay that Iraq did not have the weapons that our intelligence believed were there."
The snipers were John Allen Muhammad (aged 41 at the time) and Lee Boyd Malvo (aged 17 at the time), who traveled in a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice sedan. Their crime spree, begun in February 2002, included murders and robberies in the states of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and Washington, which resulted in seven deaths and seven wounded people; in ten months, the snipers killed 17 people and wounded 10 others.
In 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated Malvo's three life sentences without parole in Virginia on appeal, with re-sentencing ordered pursuant to the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012), which held that mandatory life sentences for juvenile criminals without possibility of parole violated the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, with oral arguments held on October 16, 2019. Should he be resentenced, Malvo's minimum prison sentence will be determined by a judge; the available maximum sentence would be life imprisonment. The ruling does not apply to the six life sentences Malvo received in Maryland. On February 25, 2020, after the passage of a Virginia law allowing those who are serving life sentences for offenses committed before the age of 18 to seek release after serving 20 years, the U.S. Supreme Court case was dismissed at the request of lawyers on both sides.
On February 16, 2002, 21-year-old cashier Keenya Nicole Cook was shot and killed by Lee Malvo at the front door of her aunt's home in Tacoma, Washington. Cook's aunt, Isa Nichols, had been good friends with John Allen Muhammed's ex-wife Mildred and had encouraged her to seek a divorce.
On March 19, 2002, Jerry Taylor, 60, was killed by a single shot to the chest fired from long range as he practiced chip shots at a Tucson, Arizona golf course. Muhammed's sister lived near the golf course and he was visiting her at the time of the shooting.
Two deaths and four injuries followed in other states from March through July 2002.
On August 1, 2002, John Gaeta, 51, was changing a tire at a parking lot in Hammond, Louisiana, and was shot in the neck by Malvo. The bullet exited through Gaeta's back, and he pretended to be dead while Malvo stole his wallet. Gaeta ran to a service station after the shooter left and discovered that he was bleeding; he went to a hospital and was released within an hour. On March 1, 2010, he received a letter of apology from Malvo.
On September 5, 2002, at 10:30 p.m., Paul LaRuffa, a 55-year-old pizzeria owner, was shot six times at close range while locking up his Italian restaurant in Clinton, Maryland. LaRuffa survived the shooting, and his laptop computer was found in John Allen Muhammad's car when he and Malvo were arrested.
On September 21, 2002, at 12:15 a.m., 41-year-old Million A. Woldemariam was fatally shot in the head and back with a .22-caliber pistol in Atlanta, Georgia. Woldemariam was helping the owner of a Sammy's Package Store close up for the night when the shooting occurred.
Nineteen hours later on the same day, Claudine Parker, a 52-year-old liquor store clerk in Montgomery, Alabama, was shot in the chest and killed during a robbery. Her co-worker, 24-year-old Kellie Adams, was critically wounded with a shot through the neck but survived. Evidence found at the crime scene eventually tied this killing to the Beltway attacks and allowed authorities to identify Muhammad and Malvo as suspects, although this connection was not made until October 17.
A hole was cut at the rear of the blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice driven by Muhammad and Malvo, as a firing port to be used during their attacks. This allowed them to remain hidden and escape the scene following their attacks.
At 5:20 p.m. on Wednesday, October 2, 2002, a shot was fired through a window of a Michaels craft store in Aspen Hill. The bullet narrowly missed Ann Chapman, a cashier at the store. Since no one was injured, the shot was assumed to be random and no serious alarms were raised. However, approximately one hour later, at 6:30 p.m., James Martin, a 55-year-old program analyst at NOAA, was shot and killed at 2201 Randolph Road in the parking lot of a Shoppers Food Warehouse grocery store, located in Wheaton.
At 7:41 a.m., James L. Buchanan, a 39-year-old landscaper known as "Sonny", was shot dead at 11411 Rockville Pike near Rockville, Maryland. Buchanan was shot while mowing the grass at the Fitzgerald Auto Malls.
At 8:12 a.m., 54-year-old part-time taxi cab driver, Prem Kumar Walekar, was killed in Aspen Hill in Montgomery County, while pumping gasoline into his taxi at a Mobil station at Aspen Hill Road and Connecticut Avenue.
At 8:37 a.m., Sarah Ramos, a 34-year-old babysitter and housekeeper, was killed at 3701 Rossmoor Boulevard at the Leisure World Shopping Center in Norbeck. She had gotten off a bus and was seated on a bench reading a book.
At 9:58 a.m., in what was to be the last killing of the morning, 25-year-old Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera was killed while vacuuming her Dodge Caravan at the Shell station at the intersection of Connecticut and Knowles Avenues in Kensington, Maryland.
The snipers then waited until 9:20 p.m. before shooting Pascal Charlot, a 72-year-old retired carpenter, while he was walking on Georgia Avenue at Kalmia Road, in Washington, D.C. Charlot died less than an hour later.
In each shooting, the victims were killed by a single bullet fired from some distance and in each case, the killers struck and then vanished. This pattern was not detected until after the shootings occurred on October 3.
Fear quickly spread throughout the region as news of the shootings spread. At a press conference meeting, Chief of Police for Montgomery County, MD, Charles Moose, informed parents that schools were on a code blue alert; keeping children indoors and that for the time being the schools were safe. Many parents went to pick up their children at school early, not allowing them to take a school bus or walk home. Montgomery County Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, and private schools went into a lockdown, with no recess or outdoor physical education classes. Other school districts in the area also took precautionary measures, keeping students indoors. During the course of the shootings, law enforcement agencies from neighboring states became embedded in the investigation through telephone tips. In fact, even the small South Bethany Police Department in Delaware received a tip of a possible suspect vehicle located nearby. That tip was investigated and cleared as unrelated. Many other police departments, both large and small, played a role during the active investigation.
Police had only a few pieces of evidence to work with; including one initial report that during the Silver Spring attack[clarification needed] someone had reportedly seen a white box truck. After the murder in Washington, D.C., witnesses then began telling police that they had seen a blue Chevrolet Caprice instead of the white box truck. They also had initially believed that all the murders were carried out with the use of a .223 caliber rifle.
At this point Malvo and Muhammad started covering a wider area and taking two or three days between shootings.
On October 4, 43-year-old homemaker Caroline Seawell was wounded in the chest at 2:30 p.m. in the parking lot of another Michaels store at Spotsylvania Mall in Spotsylvania, while she was loading purchases into her minivan. By this point, hundreds of journalists had converged to cover the unfolding events. School officials reassured the public that they were taking every measure possible to protect children: by tightening security and canceling all outdoor activities.
On October 7, at 8:09 a.m., Iran Brown, a 13-year-old student, was shot in the chest and critically wounded as he arrived at the Benjamin Tasker Middle School at 4901 Collington Road in Bowie, Maryland, in Prince George's County (Brown's name was initially concealed from the public but was later revealed). His aunt, Tanya Brown, was a nurse who had just brought him to school. She rushed him to a hospital emergency room. Despite serious injuries, including damage to several major organs, Brown survived the attack and ultimately testified at Muhammad's trial. At this crime scene the authorities discovered a shell casing as well as a Tarot card (the Death card) inscribed with the phrase, "Call me God" on the front and, on three separate lines on the back, "For you mr. Police." "Code: 'Call me God'." "Do not release to the press." Despite police efforts to honor the request not to release information about the card to the press, details were made public by WUSA-TV and then by The Washington Post, just one day later.
By this point, gas stations had begun to put tarps up to conceal their customers (see Public reaction, below). Malvo and Muhammad did not commit any more shootings for five days.
On October 19 at 8:00 p.m., 37-year-old Jeffrey Hopper was shot in a parking lot near the Ponderosa Steakhouse at State Route 54 in Ashland, Virginia, about 90 miles (145 km) south of Washington, near Interstate 95. His wife Stephanie called out to passers-by, who phoned for an ambulance, enabling Hopper to survive his injuries. Authorities discovered a four-page letter from the shooter in the woods that demanded $10 million and made a threat to children.
On October 21, Richmond-area police arrested two men, one with a white van, outside a gas station. The men turned out to be illegal immigrants with no connection to the shooter and they were remanded into federal custody (what was then the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which subsequently deported them).
The next day, October 22, bus driver Conrad Johnson, 35, was shot at 5:56 a.m. while standing on the steps of his bus at the 14100 block of Grand Pre Road in Aspen Hill, Maryland. Chief Moose released part of the content of one of the shooter's letters, in which he declares, "Your children are not safe, anywhere, at any time." Johnson later died of his injuries.
While no shootings occurred on October 23, the day is significant for two events. First, ballistics experts confirmed Johnson as the 10th fatality in the Beltway shootings. Second, in a yard in Tacoma, Washington, police searched with metal detectors for bullets, shell casings, or other evidence that might provide a link to the shooters. A tree stump believed to have been used for target practice was seized.
With seven separate shooting victims, including six deaths, in the first 15 hours of the D.C. area spree, the North American media soon devoted enormous coverage to the shootings. By the middle of October 2002, all news television networks provided live coverage of the aftermath of each attack, with the coverage often lasting for hours at a time. The Fox show America's Most Wanted devoted an entire episode to the shooters in hopes of aiding in their capture. Much of the coverage of the case in The New York Times was written by Jayson Blair and subsequently found to be fabricated; the ensuing scandal led the newspaper's two top editors, Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd, to resign.
During the weeks when the attacks occurred, fear of the apparently random shootings generated a great deal of public apprehension, especially at service stations and the parking lots of large stores. People pumping gasoline at gas stations would walk around their cars quickly, hoping that they would be a harder target to hit. After consistent phone calls to national media outlets by Lisa Notgrass of Lake Jackson, Texas, some stations put up tarps around the awnings over the fuel pumps so people would feel safer. Also, many people would attempt to fuel their vehicles at the naval base of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, as they felt it was safer inside the guarded fence. Various government buildings such as the White House, U.S. Capitol, and the Supreme Court building, and memorial tourist attractions at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. also received heightened security. For the duration of the attacks, United States Senate pages received a driven police escort to and from the United States Capitol every day and were not allowed to leave their residence hall for any reason except work. Drivers of white vans and box trucks were viewed with suspicion from other motorists as initial media reports indicated the suspect may be driving such a vehicle.
After the specific threat against children was delivered, many school groups curtailed field trips and outdoors athletic activities based upon safety concerns. At the height of the public fear, some school districts, such as Henrico County Public Schools and Hanover County Public Schools, after the Ponderosa shooting, simply closed school for the day. Other schools such as the MJBHA, canceled all outdoor activities after the shooting at the Connecticut and Aspen Hill intersection. Others changed after-school procedures for parents to pick up their kids to minimize the amount of time children spent in the open. Extra police officers were placed in schools because of this fear. In addition to this, Joel Schumacher's film Phone Booth was deemed potentially upsetting enough that its release was delayed for months until 2003.
Police responded within minutes to reports of attacks during the three weeks of the sniper attacks, cordoning off nearby roads and highways and inspecting all drivers, thereby grinding traffic to a halt for hours at a time. Police canvassed the area, talking to people, and collected surveillance tapes.
By Friday night, October 4, the five shootings on October 3 and two on October 2 were forensically linked to the same gun.
Eyewitness accounts of the attacks were mostly confused and spotty. Hotlines set up for the investigation were flooded with tips. Early tips from eyewitnesses included reports of a white box truck with dark lettering, speeding away from the Leisure World shopping center, with two men inside. Police across the area and the state of Maryland were pulling over white vans and trucks. A gray car was spotted speeding away after the October 4 shooting in Spotsylvania.
The shooter attempted to engage the police in a dialogue, compelling Moose to tell the media cryptic messages intended for the sniper. At several scenes of shootings, Tarot cards were left as calling cards, including one Death card upon which was written "Call me God" on the front and on the back, on three separate lines, the words, "For you mr. Police." "Code: 'Call me God'." "Do not release to the press." This information was leaked to the press and misquoted often as "I am God" or some similar misquote of the actual words on the tarot card. At later scenes of crimes the shooter left long, handwritten notes sealed inside plastic bags, including a rambling one that demanded $10,000,000 and threatened the lives of children in the area.
A telephone call from the shooter(s) was traced to a pay telephone at a gasoline station in Henrico County, Virginia. Police missed the suspects by a matter of a few minutes, and initially detained occupants of a van at another pay telephone at the same intersection.
On the phone call, the sniper, boasting of his cleverness, mentioned a previous unsolved murder in "Montgomery". This was identified as the September 21 shooting at a liquor store in Montgomery, Alabama. On October 17 authorities said they matched Malvo's fingerprint found at the Benjamin Tasker Middle School site with one lifted from the Montgomery liquor store scene. After further research into Malvo's background, the police found he had close ties to John Allen Muhammad.
Despite an apparent lack of progress publicly, federal authorities were making significant headway in their investigation and developed leads in Washington state, Alabama, and New Jersey. They learned that Muhammad's ex-wife, who had obtained a protective order against him, lived near the Capital Beltway in Clinton, a community in suburban Prince George's County, Maryland adjacent to Montgomery County. Information was also developed about an automobile purchased in New Jersey by Muhammad.
Police discovered that the New Jersey license plate number issued for Muhammad's 1990 Chevrolet Caprice had been checked by radio patrol cars several times near shooting locations in various jurisdictions in several states, but the car had not been stopped because law enforcement computer networks did not indicate that it was connected to any criminal activity and they were focused exclusively on the "white van".
On October 3, 2002, police in Washington, D.C. stopped the Caprice for a "minor traffic infraction", two hours prior to the shooting of Pascal Charlot. Witnesses later reported seeing a Caprice near the scene of his shooting.
On October 8, 2002, Baltimore Police Department investigated a dark blue Chevrolet Caprice with a person sleeping inside that was parked near the Jones Falls Expressway at 28th Street in Baltimore. The officers were concerned that the driver's license was from Washington state while the vehicle was registered in New Jersey. Although the vehicle was suspicious enough for them to investigate, and it fit the description of a vehicle associated with the shooting in Washington, D.C. five days earlier, the officers did not question the occupants extensively, nor did they search the vehicle.
Authorities were quick to issue a media alert to the public to be on the lookout for a dark blue Chevrolet Caprice sedan. For the public, as well as for law enforcement agencies throughout the region, this was a major change from the mysterious "white box truck" earlier sought based upon reported sightings.
The rest area in which Muhammad and Malvo were captured; the blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice driven by them is visible.
The blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice driven by Muhammad and Malvo, at the rest area where they were captured. Glass shards on the ground are a result of the shattering of the car's windows during the arrest.
The crime spree came to a close at 3:15 a.m. on October 24, 2002, when Muhammad and Malvo were found sleeping in their car, a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice (which had been dismissed earlier in the investigation), at a rest stop off Interstate 70 near Myersville, Maryland, and were arrested on federal weapons charges. Police were tipped off by Whitney Donahue, who noticed the parked car. Four hours earlier, Montgomery County police chief Charles Moose had relayed this cryptic message to the sniper: "You have indicated that you want us to do and say certain things. You have asked us to say, 'We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose.' We understand that hearing us say this is important to you". Moose asked the media "to carry the message accurately and often." This statement may refer to a Cherokee fable, but analysts disagree.
Trooper First Class D. Wayne Smith of the Maryland State Police was the first to arrive at the scene and immediately used his light blue unmarked police vehicle to block off the exit by positioning the car sideways between two parked tractor-trailers. As more troopers arrived, they effectively sealed off the rest area at both the entrance and exit ramps without the suspects being aware of a rapidly growing police presence. Later, as truck driver Ron Lantz was attempting to exit the rest area, his tractor-trailer was commandeered by troopers who used the truck, in place of the police car, to complete the roadblock at the exit. With the suspects' escape route sealed off, the SWAT officers moved in to arrest them.
A stolen Bushmaster.223-caliber weapon and bipod were found in a bag in Muhammad's car. Ballistics tests later conclusively linked the seized rifle to 11 of the 14 shootings, including one in which no one was hurt.
Conclusions of investigations
Logistics and tactics
The attacks were carried out with a stolen Bushmaster XM-15semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle equipped with a Bushnellholographic weapon sight effective at ranges of up to 300 meters (984 feet), which was found in the vehicle. The trunk of the Chevrolet Caprice was modified to serve as a "rolling sniper's nest". The back seat was modified to allow a person access to the trunk. Once inside, the sniper could lie prone and take shots through a small hole created for that purpose near the license plate.
Investigators and the prosecution suggested during pre-trial motions that Muhammad intended to kill his second ex-wife Mildred, who he felt had estranged him from his children. According to this theory, the other shootings were intended to cover up the motive for the crime. Muhammad believed that the police would not focus on an estranged ex-husband as a suspect if Mildred appeared to be a random victim of a serial killer. During the attacks, Muhammad frequented the neighborhood where she lived, and some of the incidents occurred nearby. Additionally, he had earlier made threats against her. Mildred herself said that she was his intended target. However, Judge LeRoy Millette Jr. prevented prosecutors from presenting that theory during the trial, saying that a link had not been firmly established.
While imprisoned, Malvo wrote a number of erratic diatribes about what he termed "jihad" against the United States. "I have been accused on my mission. Allah knows I'm gonna suffer now," he wrote. Because his rants and drawings featured not only such figures as Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, but also characters from the film series The Matrix, these musings were dismissed as immaterial. Some investigators reportedly said they had all but eliminated terrorist ties or political ideologies as a motive. Nonetheless, in at least one of the ensuing murder trials, a Virginia court found Muhammad guilty of killing "pursuant to the direction or order" of terrorism.
At the 2006 trial of Muhammad, Malvo testified that the aim of the killing spree was to kidnap children for the purpose of extorting money from the government and to "set up a camp to train children how to terrorize cities," with the ultimate goal being to "shut things down" across the United States.
Before the trial, Chief Moose engaged in a publicity tour for his book on the sniper investigation, including appearances on Dateline NBC, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show. Assistant Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney James Willett told The Washington Post, "Personally, I don't understand why someone who's been in law enforcement his whole life would potentially damage our case or compromise a jury pool by doing this."
Change of venue requests by defense attorneys were granted, and the first trials were held in the independent cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach in southeastern Virginia, more than 100 miles (160 km) from the closest alleged attack (in Ashland, Virginia).
During their trials in the fall of 2003, involving two of the victims in Virginia, Muhammad and Malvo were each found guilty of murder and weapons charges. The jury in Muhammad's case recommended that he be sentenced to death, while Malvo's jury recommended a sentence of life in prison without parole instead of the death penalty. The judges concurred in both cases. Alabama law enforcement authorities allege that the snipers engaged in a series of previously unconnected attacks prior to October 2 in Montgomery, Alabama. Other charges are also pending in Maryland and other communities in Virginia.
After the initial convictions and sentencing, Will Jarvis, the Assistant Prince William County prosecutor, stated he would wait to decide whether to try Malvo on capital charges in his jurisdiction until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on whether juveniles may be subject to the penalty of execution. While that decision in an unrelated case was still pending before the high court, in October 2004, under a plea agreement, Malvo pleaded guilty in another case in Spotsylvania County, for another murder to avoid a possible death penalty sentence, and agreed to additional sentencing of life imprisonment without parole. Malvo had yet to face trial in Prince William County.
In March 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in Roper v. Simmons that the Eighth Amendment prohibits execution for crimes committed when under the age of 18. In light of this Supreme Court decision, the prosecutors in Prince William County decided not to pursue the charges against Malvo. Prosecutors in Maryland, Louisiana, and Alabama were still interested in putting both Malvo and Muhammad on trial. As Malvo was 17 when he committed the crimes, he could no longer face the death penalty but still could be extradited to Alabama, Louisiana, and other states for prosecution. At the time of the Roper v. Simmons ruling, Malvo was 20 years old and was held at Virginia's maximum security Red Onion State Prison in Pound, Wise County.
"Muhammad, with his sniper team partner, Malvo, randomly selected innocent victims," Virginia Supreme Court Justice Donald Lemons wrote in the decision. "With calculation, extensive planning, premeditation and ruthless disregard for life, Muhammad carried out his cruel scheme of terror."
Muhammad's death penalty was affirmed by the Virginia Supreme Court on April 22, 2005, when it ruled that he could be sentenced to death because the murder was part of an act of terrorism. This line of reasoning was based on the handwritten note demanding $10 million. The court rejected an argument by defense lawyers that Muhammad could not be sentenced to death because he was not the triggerman in the killings linked to him and Malvo.
On September 16, 2009, the circuit court judge Mary Grace O'Brien set an execution date by lethal injection for November 10, 2009. His attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his execution, but it was denied. They also requested clemency from Virginia GovernorTim Kaine, but this was denied as well. The execution began shortly after 9 p.m. on November 10, and he was pronounced dead at 9:11 p.m.
In May 2005, Virginia and Maryland announced that they had reached agreements to allow Maryland to proceed with prosecuting charges there, where the most shootings occurred. There were media reports that Malvo and his legal team were willing to negotiate his cooperation, and he waived extradition to Maryland.
Muhammad and his legal team responded by fighting extradition to Maryland. Muhammad's legal team was ultimately unsuccessful, and extradition was ordered by a Virginia judge in August 2005.
Maryland agreed to transfer Muhammad and Malvo back to the Commonwealth of Virginia after their trials. A date for Muhammad's pending execution in Virginia had been set for November 10, 2009.
Malvo pleaded guilty to six murders and confessed to others in other states while being interviewed in Maryland and testifying against Muhammad. Malvo was sentenced to six consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole, but in 2017, his sentence in Virginia was overturned after an appeal.
On May 30, 2006, a Maryland jury found John Allen Muhammad guilty of six counts of murder in Maryland. In return, he was sentenced to six consecutive life terms without possibility of parole on June 1, 2006.
On May 6, 2008, it was revealed that Muhammad had asked prosecutors in a letter to help him end legal appeals of his conviction and death sentence "so that you can murder this innocent black man." An appeal filed by Muhammad's defense lawyers in April 2008 cited evidence of brain damage that might render Muhammad incompetent to make legal decisions, and that he should not have been allowed to represent himself at his Virginia trial.
In John Allen Muhammad's May 2006 trial in Montgomery County, Maryland, Lee Boyd Malvo took the stand and confessed to the 17 murders. He also gave a more detailed version of the pair's plans. Malvo, after extensive psychological counseling, admitted that he was lying at the earlier Virginia trial where he had admitted to being the trigger man for every shooting. Malvo claimed that he had said this in order to protect Muhammad from a potential death sentence, and because it was more difficult to obtain the death penalty for a minor. Malvo said that he wanted to do what little he could for the families of the victims by letting the full story be told. In his two days of testimony, Malvo outlined detailed aspects of all the shootings.
Part of his testimony concerned Muhammad's complete multiphase plan. His plan consisted of three phases in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. Phase one consisted of meticulously planning, mapping, and practicing their locations around the D.C. area. This way after each shooting, they would be able to quickly leave the area on a predetermined path, and move on to the next location. Muhammad's goal in Phase One was to kill six white people a day for 30 days. Malvo went on to describe how Phase One did not go as planned due to heavy traffic and the lack of a clear shot or getaway at locations.
Phase Two was meant to take place in Baltimore, Maryland. Malvo described how this phase was close to being implemented, but was not carried out. Phase Two was intended to begin by killing a pregnant woman by shooting her in the stomach. The next step would have been to shoot and kill a Baltimore police officer. Then, at the officer's funeral, they planned to detonate several improvised explosive devices complete with shrapnel. These explosives were intended to kill a large number of police, since many police would attend another officer's funeral.
The last phase was to take place during or shortly after Phase Two, which was to extort several million dollars from the United States government. This money would be used to finance a larger plan, to travel north to Canada. Along the way, they would stop in YMCAs and orphanages recruiting other impressionable young boys with no parents or guidance. Muhammad thought he could act as their father figure as he did with Malvo.
Once he recruited a large number of young boys and made his way up to Canada, he would begin their training. Malvo described how John Muhammad intended to train boys in weapons and stealth as he had been taught. Finally, after their training was complete, John Allen Muhammad would send them out across the United States to carry out mass shootings in many other cities, just as he had done in Washington and Baltimore. These attacks would be coordinated and be intended to send the country into chaos that had already been built up after 9/11.
Civil and regulatory actions
According to The Seattle Times in a story of April 20, 2003, Muhammad had honed his marksmanship at Bull's Eye's firing range. The newspaper also reported that Malvo told investigators that he shoplifted the 35-inch-long (89 cm) carbine from the "supposedly secure store."
According to U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) officials, the store and its owners had a long history of firearms sales and records violations and a file 283 pages thick. In July 2003, the ATF revoked the federal firearms license of Brian Borgelt, a former staff sergeant with the U.S. Army Rangers and owner of Bull's Eye Shooter Supply. Later that month he transferred ownership of the store to a friend and continued to own the building and operate the adjacent shooting gallery.
On January 16, 2003, the Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, on behalf of the families of many of the victims of the sniper attacks both in and out of the D.C. area who were killed (including Hong Im Ballenger, "Sonny" Buchanan Jr., Linda Franklin, Conrad Johnson, Sarah Ramos, and James L. Premkumar Walekar) as well as two victims who survived the shooting (Rupinder "Benny" Oberoi and 13-year old Iran Brown) filed a civil lawsuit against Bull's Eye Shooter Supply and Bushmaster Firearms, Inc. of Windham, Maine, the gun distributor and manufacturer that made the rifle used in the crime spree, as well as Borgelt, Muhammad, and Malvo. Muhammad, who had a criminal record of domestic battery, and Malvo, a minor, were each legally prohibited from purchasing firearms.
The suit claimed that Bull's Eye Shooter Supply ran its gun store in Tacoma, Washington, "in such a grossly negligent manner that scores of its guns routinely "disappeared" from its store and it kept such shoddy records that it could not account for the Bushmaster rifle used in the sniper shootings when asked by federal agents for records of sale for the weapon." It was alleged that the dealer could not account for hundreds of guns received from manufacturers in the years immediately prior to the Beltway sniper attacks. It was also claimed that Bull's Eye continued to sell guns in the same irresponsible manner even after Muhammad and Malvo were caught and found to have acquired the weapon there. Bushmaster was included in the suit because it allegedly continued to sell guns to Bull's Eye as a dealer despite an awareness of its record-keeping violations.
The case had been set for trial in April 2005; however the parties settled before then. Bushmaster said it settled because of escalating legal fees and the dwindling amount of insurance money it had left for the case. Bull's Eye contributed $2 million and Bushmaster contributed $500,000 to an out-of-court settlement. Bushmaster also agreed to educate its dealers on safer business practices.
After the settlement was announced, WTOP radio in Washington, D.C., reported that Sonia Wills, mother of victim Conrad Johnson, said her family took part in the lawsuit more to send a message than to collect money. "I think a message was delivered that you should be responsible and accountable for the actions of irresponsible people when you make these guns and put them in their hands," she said.
Execution of John Allen Muhammad
In the days leading up to his execution, John Allen Muhammad spent time with his lawyer working out a final appeal to the Supreme Court. It was reported that the two had become close friends, with Muhammad telling his lawyer, "I love you, brother," and granting him permission to write a book about the trial.
Muhammad was executed by lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia on November 10, 2009. The execution procedure began at 9:06 p.m. EST; Muhammad was pronounced dead five minutes later. It was reported that when asked if he had any last words, Muhammad made no reply. Twenty-seven people, including victims' family members, witnessed his execution.
Brookside Gardens' Reflection Terrace was built in fall 2004 in memory of the sniper victims
During the fall of 2007, BET showcased a documentary on the Beltway snipers in its American Gangster series.
In June 2008, Barbara Kopple released her documentary The D.C. Sniper's Wife, which told the story through the eyes of Mildred Muhammad, wife of John Allen Muhammad. Mildred was to appear on CNN's Larry King Live on November 9, the day before her ex-husband's execution.
An episode of Serial..., a TLC show about serial killers, also covered the shootings.
On January 3, 2011, Canadian actor William Shatner spoke at length with three survivors of the sniper shootings—Paul LaRuffa, Kellie Adams, and Caroline Seawell—on The Biography Channel's Aftermath with William Shatner.
The 2013 film Blue Caprice, also known as The Washington Snipers in some regions, is based on the attacks, focusing heavily on the father-son relationship between Muhammed and Malvo.
The attacks were mentioned in the TV show Castle by Richard Castle in S4E9 "Kill Shot".
On July 22, 2015, an episode of the Lifetime Movie Network's Monster in My Family featured Mildred Muhammad meeting with surviving victims along with family members of the deceased, with Lee Malvo also appearing in the episode while in prison.
In an episode of The Cleveland Show, the main character makes a reference saying "Why can't you be more like the D.C. Sniper's son?".
An episode of FBI, which aired October 16, 2018, contained many elements similar to the D.C. Sniper story.
An episode of , which aired November 10, 2018, chronicled the case.
The 2019 American independent drama, Desert Shores is set during the sniper attacks and contains references to the incidents as well as actual news footage and recordings. It is based on George McCormick's short story D.C..
^Meserve, Jeanne (October 20, 2003). "Sniper Trial in Virginia Beach, Virginia Opens". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2013. The strongest piece of evidence in this case, the Bushmaster rifle, found with Muhammad and Malvo at the time of their arrest and linked through ballistics testing like this with Meyers' murder and other D.C. sniper slayings. The Chevy Caprice in which they were found had a sniper perch and firing port in the trunk.
^ abMacGillis, Alec; Del Quentin Wilber & Jeff Barker (2002-10-04). "Random shootings target victims in Montgomery during a 16-hour period". The Baltimore Sun.
^ ab"Arbitrary Victims, Identical Fate; County's Growing Diversity Reflected in Those Gunned Down". The Washington Post. 2002-10-04.
MV Le Joola was a Senegalese government-owned roll-on/roll-offferry that capsized off the coast of The Gambia on 26 September 2002, with 1,863 deaths and 64 survivors. It is thought to be the second-worst non-military disaster in maritime history.
The ship was plying the route from Ziguinchor in the Casamance region to the Senegalese capital, Dakar, when it ran into a violent storm, farther out to sea than it was licensed to sail. The estimated 2000 passengers aboard (about half of whom lacked tickets) would have amounted to at least three times the ship's . The large numbers sleeping on-deck (and thus above its center of buoyancy) added further instability. Rescue operations did not start for several hours.
A government inquiry principally blamed negligence, and accusations were levelled at both the Senegalese president and prime minister.
Route and approximate location of the sinking of Le Joola.
The ship was named Le Joola after the Jola people of southern Senegal. It was constructed in Germany and was delivered in 1990. She was 79 m (259 ft 2 in) long and 12 m (39 ft 4 in) wide, had two motors, and was equipped with some of the latest safety equipment available at the time of the disaster. Le Joola usually traveled twice a week and often carried women who sold mangoes and palm oil in Dakar. At the time of the disaster, the ship had been out of service for almost a year undergoing repairs, which included replacement of the port side engine.
Voyage and incident
At about 1:30 pm on 26 September 2002, Le Joola set sail from Ziguinchor in the Casamance region on one of its frequent trips between southern Senegal and Dakar. Although the ship was designed to carry a maximum of 580 passengers and crew, an estimated 1,863 passengers are believed to have been on board, including 185 people who boarded the ship from Carabane, an island where there was no formal port of entry or exit for passengers. The exact number of passengers remains unknown (some Senegalese organizations put the number at over 2,000), but there were 1,034 travelers with tickets. The rest of the passengers were either not required to hold tickets (children aged less than 5) or had been permitted to travel for free, as often happened.
The last call from the ferry staff was broadcast to a maritime security center in Dakar at 10 pm and reported good sailing conditions. At around 11pm, the ship sailed into a storm off the coast of Gambia. As a result of the rough seas and wind, the ferry capsized, throwing passengers and cargo into the sea, all within five minutes.
While many of the ship's passengers may have died during or immediately following the capsizing, a large number probably survived, only to drown while awaiting rescue. Government rescue teams did not arrive at the scene until the morning following the accident, although local fishermen rescued some survivors from the sea several hours before. Only 64 passengers survived. Of more than 600 women on board, only one woman, Mariama Diouf, survived; she was pregnant at the time.
Some time before official rescue teams arrived, local fishermen with pirogues in the area of the tragedy started the first efforts to pull survivors out of the water. They were able to rescue a few people but also recovered several bodies that were floating around Le Joola. At 2pm, they rescued a 15-year-old boy. The boy confirmed that there were still many people trapped alive inside the ship; there were reports of noises and screaming coming from within.
Le Joola remained capsized but afloat until around 3pm, at which point it finally sank stern first, taking with it those who were unable to get out of the ship.
The colossal loss of life caused by the tragedy was a great shock to many in Senegal and immediately led to calls from the press and public for an explanation of the disaster. The Senegalese government established an inquiry to investigate. The French courts also launched a probe into the disaster as several French nationals were among the dead. According to many sources, the accident was caused by a variety of factors, including possible negligence. While rough seas and wind were directly responsible for the capsizing, the ferry was built only to be sailed in coastal waters but was sailing beyond this coastal limit when it capsized. Overcrowding is one of the most commonly mentioned factors in the disaster, both for the capsizing and the high number of deaths. Due to the heat and claustrophobic conditions below deck, as many passengers as possible usually slept on the upper level, making the ship more unstable. The ship was only 12 years old and was built to be in service for at least 30 years but had suffered a number of technical problems in the years before it capsized. These problems are now attributed to poor maintenance by its owners and not to any design or manufacturing flaws.
At least 1,863 people died, although the exact number will never be known due to a large number of unticketed passengers on board. Among the dead were 1,201 male victims (61.5%) and 682 female victims (34.9%). The gender of 70 victims is unknown. The dead included passengers from at least 11 countries: Cameroon, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, France, Spain, Norway, Belgium, Lebanon, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
On 28 September 2002, environmental activist Haïdar El Ali and his diving team explored the disaster area. They saw no survivors, but many bodies of men, women and children inside the ship. 300 corpses trapped inside were freed. Another 100 that were around the ship were also recovered. 551 dead bodies were recovered in total. Of that number, 93 were identifiable and given back to families. The remaining bodies were put to rest in specially-constructed cemeteries in , , , and on the Gambian coast. National funerals were held on 11 October 2002, at the Esplanade du Souvenir in Dakar.
Reparations and memorials
Memorial plaza in Ziguinchor near the place passengers embarked on Le Joola
The Senegalese government initially offered families a payment of around US$22,000 per victim and fired several officials, but no one has ever been prosecuted, and the official report was closed a year after the disaster. Officials were charged with failure to respond quickly enough to the disaster, including high-ranking members of the Armed Forces of Senegal who were moved to other posts. Despite this, little light was ever cast upon those who allowed the ferry to be overloaded or poorly maintained. Prime Minister Mame Madior Boye was dismissed by President Abdoulaye Wade after the disaster with much of her cabinet, reportedly for mishandling the rescue. In the 2007 election, Wade's rival and former Prime Minister, Moustapha Niasse, accused Wade of covering up their responsibility for the disaster. Families of victims, many of whom have been unwilling or unable to claim reparation, have continued to be highly critical of the government over its handling of the rescue, the operation of the ferry which led to the disaster, and the reparation process.
The families of French victims refused the 2003 reparations packages, and have pursued the Senegalese authorities in French courts. On 12 September 2008, French judge Jean-Wilfrid Noël handed down an indictment of nine Senegalese officials, including Boye and former Army Chief of Staff General Babacar Gaye. Senegalese official and popular reaction against these charges coming from the former colonial power have been hostile, with the Senegalese government issuing an arrest warrant for Noël in return.
A documentary by Senegalese journalist was broadcast on the ninth anniversary of the tragedy, 26 September 2011. The documentary detailed the story of some of the survivors and questioned the slow rescue work.
Senegalese footballer Aliou Cisse lost 12 members of his family in the incident, and his club Birmingham City, in England, displayed a large Senegalese flag to remember the midfielder's family, and the other people who lost their lives.
Status of disaster
The sinking of Le Joola is the second-worst non-military maritime disaster in number of lives lost. The first is considered to be MV Doña Paz in 1987 with an estimated number of over 4,000 dead. RMS Titanic, which sank in 1912 with 1,517 lives lost, would be third according to the World Almanac and the New York Times.
The United States pulls out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Statement on Formal Withdrawal From the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty June 13, 2002.
Six months ago, I announced that the United States was withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and today that withdrawal formally takes effect. With the treaty now behind us, our task is to develop and deploy effective defenses against limited missile attacks. As the events of September 11 made clear, we no longer live in the cold war world for which the ABM Treaty was designed. We now face new threats, from terrorists who seek to destroy our civilization by any means available to rogue states armed with weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Defending the American people against these threats is my highest priority as Commander in Chief.
The new strategic challenges of the 21st century require us to think differently. But they also require us to act. I call on the Congress to approve the full amount of the funding I have requested in my budget for missile defense. This will permit the United States to work closely with all nations committed to freedom to pursue the policies and capabilities needed to make the world a safer place for generations to come.
I am committed to deploying a missile defense system as soon as possible to protect the American people and our deployed forces against the growing missile threats we face. Because these threats also endanger our allies and friends around the world, it is essential that we work together to defend against them, an important task which the ABM Treaty prohibited. The United States will deepen our dialog and cooperation with other nations on missile defenses.
Last month, President Vladimir Putin and I agreed that Russia and the United States would look for ways to cooperate on missile defenses, including expanding military exercises, sharing early warning data, and exploring potential joint research and development of missile defense technologies. Over the past year, our countries have worked hard to overcome the legacy of the cold war and to dismantle its structures. The United States and Russia are building a new relationship based on common interests and, increasingly, common values. Under the Treaty of Moscow, the nuclear arsenals of our nations will be reduced to their lowest levels in decades. Cooperation on missile defense will also make an important contribution to furthering the relationship we both seek.
D.C. sniper attacks of 2002, shooting spree in the Washington, D.C., area that killed 10 people and injured 3 over a three-week period in October 2002. The shooters, John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, chose targets seemingly at random and brought daily life in the area to a virtual standstill.
The attacks began on October 2, 2002, when a bullet shattered the window of a craft store in Aspen Hill, Maryland, narrowly missing a cashier. Less than an hour after that incident, a 55-year-old man was shot and killed while walking across a parking lot in Wheaton, Maryland. Although the shootings were not initially recognized as being connected, law-enforcement authorities soon realized that those two acts of violence were just the first of what would be more than a dozen linked shootings over the next 23 days.
By the end of the day on October 3, five more victims had been shot and killed in the Washington metropolitan area. Investigators determined that bullets from several of the first seven shootings were fired from the same weapon—a high-powered .223-calibre rifle. On the morning of October 7, a 13-year-old boy was shot and injured in front of his middle school in Bowie, Maryland. Muhammad and Malvo left a tarot card with a note to law enforcement written on it, but it contained no specific demands. More than 30 different law-enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels would ultimately work together to track, identify, and capture the parties responsible for the attacks.
Other than conflicting reports of a white van, a white box truck, and a dark Chevrolet Caprice near the scenes of the incidents, police had no clear leads. Criminal profilers predicted that the sniper was most likely a white male, but that assumption was based largely on the characteristics of past serial killers and not the sniper case itself. From October 9 to October 14, two men and a woman were killed in separate incidents in northern Virginia.
On October 19 a 13th shooting occurred at a restaurant in Ashland, Virginia. Law-enforcement officials found a second note at the crime scene, demanding money and instructing the police to call at a certain time and place. The phone number provided in the note was not valid, but technicians at the U.S. Secret Service crime lab were able to match the handwriting to the tarot card left at the scene of an earlier shooting.
The Bali Bombings bombs are detonated in the Sari Club in Kuta, Bali.
Two bombs ripped through the Kuta area of the Indonesian tourist island of Bali on 12 October 2002, leaving 202 people dead. The Bali bombing plot were probably sown in a hotel room in southern Thailand. It was believed to have ordered a new strategy of hitting soft targets, such as nightclubs and bars rather than high-profile sites like foreign embassies. The final death toll was 202, mainly comprising Western tourists and holiday-makers in their 20s and 30s who were in or near Paddy’s Pub or the Sari Club, but also including many Balinese Indonesians working or living nearby, or simply passing by. Hundreds more people suffered horrific burns and other injuries. The largest group among those killed were holidayers from Australia with 88 fatalities. On 14 October, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1438 condemning the attack as a threat to international peace and security.