By Daniel Bates
Last updated at 9:18 PM on 17th January 2012
Charles Taylor worked for U.S. intelligence agencies during his rise to become one of Africa’s most notorious dictators.
The former Liberian despot was employed by the Pentagon’s spy arm from the early 1980s onwards for an undisclosed number of years, according to reports.
It is thought he was hired in order to get information on the former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, possibly including details about the Lockerbie bombing.
Taylor had been imprisoned in the U.S. before escaping mysteriously in 1985. Returning to Liberia he led rebels in a bloody civil war to oust the Doe regime and become president himself in 1997
Former intelligence officials said that over time Taylor would have been used by the U.S. for information on everything from African issues to arms sales in the Soviet Union
The link between Taylor and American intelligence agencies has long been rumoured but it was confirmed in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Boston Globe which had been put in six years ago.
The Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s spy wing, admitted there was a relationship but refused to elaborate, claiming it could harm U.S. national security.
It also revealed that there were at least 48 documents covering several decades on Taylor, but did not comment further.
The disclosure immediately raised questions over Taylor’s escape from a prison in Boston in 1985.
He had fled there from Liberia amid accusations he embezzled £680,000 and was arrested and put in jail.
Taylor then managed to flee the U.S., even though four others who fled with him were recaptured, and begin his rise to become the country’s leader.
Former intelligence officials said that over time Taylor would have been used by the U.S. for information on everything from African issues to arms sales in the Soviet Union.
The relationship appears to have ended by 1997 when Taylor assumed power in Liberia following a series of bloody civil wars.
The 63-year-old is now awaiting sentence in a special UN court in The Hague after admitting to a string of war crime charges including murder, rape and using child soldiers during a war with neighbouring Sierra Leone whilst he was president.
Allan White, a former U.S. Defence Department investigator who helped prosecute Taylor, told the Boston Globe that the disclosure was something he had long suspected.
He said: ‘I think the intelligence community’s past relationship with Taylor made some in the U.S. government squeamish about a trial, despite knowing what a bad actor he was’.
During Taylor’s trial the model Naomi Campbell gave evidence and denied claims he had given her a ‘blood diamond’ in 1997 as they both visited Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
She claimed she did not realise it was a diamond as they were ‘very small, dirty-looking stones’ and she was used to seeing them sparkle.