Cameroon: Three Cameroonian-Americans Risk 38 Years Jail Term for Sponsoring Violence in Cameroon

“If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of up to 15 years in prison for the material support charges, up to three years in prison for the receiving money from a ransom demand charge and up to 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy charge,” US DOJ said.

Three American citizens of Cameroonian origin risk a 38-year jail term having been indicted for supporting violence in Cameroon.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday announced the arrest and initial court appearance of Messrs Claude Chi, 40; Francis Chenyi, 49; Lah Langmi, 46.

“Three defendants were arrested today and made their initial court appearances in connection with an indictment, unsealed today,” the statement said.

It noted that they are being charged for their roles in a conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a conspiracy to kidnap persons and use weapons of mass destruction in a foreign country.

“If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of up to 15 years in prison for the material support charges, up to three years in prison for the receiving money from a ransom demand charge and up to 20 years in prison for the money laundering conspiracy charge,” US DOJ said.

They are charged in a four-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Missouri, on 18 November.

“The federal indictment alleges that Messrs Chi, Chenyi and Langmi have supported and raised funds for separatist fighters in Cameroon since 1 January, 2018. As alleged, they each held senior level positions within an organisation that supported and directed the militant separatist group known as the Ambazonian Restoration Forces and other separatist fighters in Cameroon’s Northwest Region,” the US said.

Funds raised and how?

According to the indictment, they allegedly solicited and raised funds for equipment, supplies, weapons and explosive materials to be used in attacks against the Cameroonian government and its friends.

Commenting on how the funds were raised, it said “through online chat applications and payment platforms from individuals located in the United States and abroad.”

And transferred from various financial and cryptocurrency accounts controlled by the defendants through intermediaries to the separatist fighters to support attacks in Cameroon.

In addition to over $350,000 raised through voluntary donations, the defendants conspired with others to kidnap Caneroonians for ransom and extorting their relatives in the US to pay.

The ransom payments were subsequently transferred to the separatist fighters to fund their operations.

Also, the defendants authored a document that included a list of expenditures related to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), firearms and ammunition.

Other expenditures included funds related to the kidnapping of Cardinal Christian Tumi and of a Cameroonian traditional leader named Sehm Mbinglo II on 5 November, 2020.

Charges against them

They are charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources intended to be used to carry out a conspiracy to kill, kidnap and maim persons in a foreign country.

One count of providing material support or resources intended to be used to carry out a conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States.

They are additionally charged with one count of receiving money from a ransom demand and one count of participating in a money laundering conspiracy.

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