From SAS to Blood Diamond Wars
Even by SAS standards this is the story of an outstanding warrior.
On the point of being demobbed from the SAS, Fred Marafono was recruited by David Stirling for his private security company. After Stirling’s death, Fred found himself in the midst of Sierra Leone’s Blood Diamond wars, and formed an unbreakable bonding with the country’s champion of democracy, Chief Hinga Norman, whose leadership and tragic death are integral to the story.
Fred was recruited by Simon Mann for the finest of all private military companies in Africa, Executive Outcomes. Fewer than two hundred of them defeated the rebels in their strongholds. Through political weakness, Executive Outcomes were made to leave the country, and chaos ensued. Committed men like Hinga Norman and British High Commissioner Peter Penfold saw that in the absence of military commitment from the west, only high caliber mercenaries would win the fight to restore democracy: three of them kept a vital air bridge open - ‘What God abandoned, these defended’. Fred’s final action was supporting the SAS in their brilliant hostage release, ‘Operation Barras.’
Peter Penfold sums it all up in the book’s foreword, writing of the, ‘confidence, trust and admiration I have for this remarkable man.’
rebels. Word of the company’s presence got around, and over the next two days, as they cleared the Kono district, local people came out to cheer them, hailing them as liberators and heroes, calling them ‘Bafana Bafana’, which was the name of the South African national soccer team. The rule of law was re-established, and the presence of Sierra Leone troops with EO helped to restore people’s confidence in the army. The next operation that EO undertook was to Gandorhun, south east of the Kono
to the heavy load, and after about 20 minutes dark clouds became visible en route, pushing in from the west. This forced them to go further north to see if they could fly around it, but at 40 minutes into their flight, Juba realized it was a serious squall reaching into Guinea. He therefore decided to return to ECOMOG HQ , Monrovia and wait to see if they could get through the next day. After landing, when Juba went to Operations to debrief on the mission, he was informed that the Kenema base had
working order. Then three days later, he took off in the gunship on an armed reconnaissance because of an emergency that had arisen. He had JJ as one of the crew. He was over a very hostile area, 120 kilometres from DHQ , an area that had not been known about during the EO days (Juba felt that it may have been because of strong political connections with the RUF). It only became apparent when he entered the area and realized how it was possible for the rebels to move from the south-east of the
other government ministers with an interest in it as well and, in his view, they conspired, to keep the Chief away from developing it as it would not bring bribe money into their pockets. It was, according to me, a corrupt government network to sideline him. He had true intentions for this development.39 No obstacles were put in Fred’s way at this stage, and he went to visit the Chief as often as he could, and responded as best the could to requests for help. For example, on 14 April, at the
pay back the shilling. Fred Marafono That same day, in London, Fred received a call from Lansana Jawara in Dakar with the news that Chief Sam Hinga Norman had died around 11.00 am. Apparently, the Chief had already prepared a list of people to be contacted in case anything happened to him. It included Peter Penfold and myself. He was always a thorough man in everything he did. I sat down and cried. I spoke to him only two days previously, when he told me he was looking forward to going back