Long Reads Pick of the Week: The Monster Next Door

Since I spend so much time reading long-form non-fiction online, I’m going to link to my favourite one every week for anyone who’s interested in similar reading.

Beatrice Munyenyezi claimed she was a refugee from the Rwandan genocide. Federal agent Brian Andersen suspected she was someone far more sinister.

The article features a chilling portrayal of the Rwandan genocide – when over 100 days in 1994, more than eight hundred thousand people were slaughtered by Hutu extremists – and an investigation of a woman who, detectives believed, had conned her way into claiming political asylum in the USA. You can read the article here.

Beatrice Munyenyezi’s Rwandan ID card

One evening, Andersen and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Capin were taking the long and bumpy road back to their hotel in Kigali. They had been up since 4:30 a.m., interviewing eyewitnesses who described atrocity after atrocity, including stories of children being hacked to death. Suddenly, Andersen turned to his friend. He realized there was one person who had repeatedly been mentioned that day and during the previous month of interviews. It wasn’t much to go on—only a nickname, spoken more than a decade later in frightened whispers.

They called her Commando, or the Commander, and for good reason. She ran what one witness called a “particularly brutal” Hutu-controlled roadblock in front of the Hotel Ihuriro, and she had a reputation for swift and ruthless violence that startled even the young Interahamwe paramilitary men, who admitted to killing hundreds on her orders.

Under later court testimony, several witnesses placed the Commander at the roadblock, where she decided who lived or died, based on their identity cards. They also placed her at the scene of numerous atrocities. But there was one horrific incident that was retold by ex–Hutu military members. It was the story of the nun. No matter who told the grisly tale, it always began with her screams.

The Monster Next Door by Michele McPhee, Boston Magazine

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