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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Liberia bans Bin Laden pictures
A Liberian refugee ship
Thousands fled Liberia for the US during civil conflict
By Jonathan Paye-Lahley in Monrovia

The Liberian government has deployed police across the country to arrest any one found selling or buying photographs of Osama Bin Laden.

He is the prime suspect named by the US for the terror attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Police Director Paul Mulbah said anyone now involved with the photos would be treated as "terrorists".

Bin Laden has denied any responsibility.

Osama Bin Laden 'Soldier of Islam' poster
Arrest for Liberians selling or buying Bin Laden posters

The weekend directive followed a brisk trade by newspaper vendors and street sellers in the capital of pirated and copied photographs of Saudi dissident Bin Laden.

The Police Director said although people buying the pirated photographs of Bin Laden were doing so "out of mere curiosity", it could give a negative interpretation of the situation.

Thousands fled

He said if the sales were left to go on unchecked, it would appear as if Liberians were happy with the Saudi-born "terrorist."

Liberia was founded nearly 200 years ago as home for freed black slaves from America.

It was to the US that thousands of Liberians fled during the outbreak of a bitter civil war in 1989 that later brought President Charles Taylor to power.

President Charles Taylor of Liberia
Mr Taylor was quick to ban anti-American comments and actions

The order to arrest those found violating the ban, police sources say, was taken by Mr Taylor himself.

The deployment of troops to crack down on violators coincided with a big memorial service in Monrovia on Sunday in honour of the 5,000 feared dead or missing in the carnage.

Meanwhile, the authorities have detained the host of a radio talk show and closed down the station following anti-American comments on the privately-owned DC101.1.

Some callers had made remarks in support of the attacks during a discussion on United Nations sanctions against Liberia.

Liberia has been campaigning for the lifting of the 12-month sanctions placed on the country because of Monrovia's apparent failure to sever ties with rebels in Sierra Leone.

See also:

16 Feb 01 | Africa
UN delays Liberia sanctions
25 Jan 01 | Africa
UN debates Liberia sanctions
15 May 00 | Africa
Diamonds: A rebel's best friend
12 Feb 01 | Africa
Timeline: Liberia
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Liberia
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