THE HAGUE, Netherlands - The CIA and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi both had a hand in Charles Taylor's rise to power as Cold War politics and pan-African struggles helped propel him to the presidency in Liberia, according to his testimony yesterday at his war-crimes trial.
Taylor sketched a turbulent African continent in the 1980s that was the backdrop for American anticommunist efforts and African freedom fighters backed by Gadhafi fighting to shake off "the yoke of colonialism."
He is charged with 11 counts of crimes against humanity and using child soldiers in his role backing rebels in Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war.
In 10 hours of testimony over two days, he portrayed himself as a liberator of the Liberian people. He described a tumultuous period of coups and executions in Liberia, a nation buffeted by Cold War politics after a sergeant major in the army, Samuel Doe, seized power in a bloody coup in 1980.
Taylor gave an animated account of his falling-out with Doe, his flight to the United States for safety, and his escape via a sheet knotted to a window's bars from a Massachusetts prison where he was being held on an extradition request after the regime accused him of embezzling $900,000.
Taylor said that U.S. authorities helped organize his escape days before a failed 1985 coup by Gen. Thomas Quiwonkpa, who was later butchered by Doe loyalists.
He said he was "100 percent positive" the CIA bought weapons used by Quiwonkpa in a coup that Taylor supported.