Sam Bockarie, widely known as Mosquito (2 October 1964 – 5 May 2003), was a leading member of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone. Bockarie was infamous during the Sierra Leone Civil War for his brutal tactics, which included amputation, mutilation, and rape. He earned the nickname "Mosquito" for his ability to attack when his enemies were off-guard mainly during the night.
Sam Bockarie was born on 2 October 1964 in Koidu Town, Kono District in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. Bockarie was the son of a diamond miner and he was raised in his hometown of Koidu Town. Following in his father's footsteps, Bockarie dropped out of secondary school to become a diamond miner. In 1985, he left the mines and started a career as a professional disco dancer, touring the countryside. He eventually moved to Liberia, and then to Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire where he worked as a barber, electrician, and waiter.
In 1989, Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) invaded Liberia from Côte d'Ivoire, where Bockarie was living at the time. However, Bockarie did not join until later that year, when he met recruits who were talking about taking action in Sierra Leone. He went with the group to join guerilla training exercises held along the border of Sierra Leone and Liberia. He was officially a part of the newly formed RUF in 1990, and was a part of the initial excursion into Sierra Leone in 1991.
In 1992, Bockarie made the move into the upper leadership of the RUF, becoming Battle Group Commander, answerable only to the Battle Field Commander and Foday Sankoh, the leader of the RUF. In March 1997, Sankoh fled to Nigeria, where he was put under house arrest, and then imprisoned. From this time until Sankoh's release in 1999, Bockarie performed the task of director of military operations of the RUF, with alleged advice from Charles Taylor.
During this time, Sankoh worked with the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), the group of Sierra Leone Army (SLA) officers which had overthrown President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah on 25 May 1997, and held the presidency until February 1998. Bockarie held the position of Chief of Defence Staff in the RUF/AFRC led junta government. In January 1999, Bockarie along with AFRC commander Johnny Paul Koroma planned and made a devastating attack on Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
After fleeing Sierra Leone in 2000, Bockarie joined with Taylor's Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) in Liberia, (Bockarie moved to Liberia under an ecowas agreement with the then Sierra Leonean President. There is no proof that he joined the Liberian A.T.U, eventually moving to the Ivory Coast, where he participated in the rebellion led by Guillaume Soro in connection with the Gbatala base headed by Charles Taylor. Under international pressure, Taylor initiated a policy of disengagement with regards to former RUF leaders, and officially expelled Bockarie from the country, although he was reported to have continued to travel freely between Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire. To secure peace in the Ivorian Civil War, and increase trade with president Laurent Gbagbo, Taylor is said to have asked Bockarie to assassinate Ivorian rebel leader Félix Doh, who was killed in April 2003.
As early as 27 April 2003, Bockarie's actions had brought him back into Liberian territory, where Charles Taylor was now President. The UN received news of Bockarie's presence, and put pressure on Taylor to apprehend him and turn him over to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, who indicted Bockarie for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Late in the day on Monday, 5 May 2003, Bockarie was killed in what was officially reported to be a shootout with Liberian forces. There is some controversy that, since Bockarie's testimony at the SCSL could have implicated Taylor, Taylor sent the troops to find and kill Bockarie, rather than to arrest the man (Perspective, 2003). In any case, after a short time of confusion over the veracity of reports on Bockarie's death, proceedings against Bockarie by the SCSL were terminated on 8 December 2003.