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Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony

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Joseph Kony is an African terrorist who is the head of the Lord's Resistance Army
Lord's Resistance Army
The Lord's Resistance Army insurgency is an ongoing guerrilla campaign waged since 1987 by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group, operating mainly in northern Uganda, but also in South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 (LRA), a guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 group that is engaged in a violent campaign to establish theocratic
Theocracy
Theocracy is a form of organization in which the official policy is to be governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided, or simply pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religious sect or religion....

 government based on the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 in Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

. The LRA say that God has sent spirits to communicate this mission directly to Kony.

The LRA has earned a reputation for its actions against the people of several countries, including northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan. The LRA has abducted and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them, and has also forced the internal displacement of over 2,000,000 people since its rebellion began in 1986.

Biography


Joseph Kony was born in 1961 in Odek, a village east of Gulu
Gulu
Gulu is a city in Northern Uganda. It is the commercial and administrative centre of Gulu District. The city is located at 2˚46'48N 32˚18'00E, on the metre gauge railway from Tororo to Pakwach. Gulu is located approximately , by road, north of Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city...

 in northern Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 Kony was the son of farmers. He had a good relationship with his siblings, but if they crossed him he came down hard on them. When confronted, he often resorted to his fists rather than parrying verbally. He was teased in school about his size and the teachers gave him a hard time for his low grades. His father was a lay catechist of the Catholic Church and his mother was an Anglican. Kony was an altar boy for several years, but he stopped attending church at about the age of 15. As a teenager, Kony apprenticed as the village witch doctor
Witch doctor
A witch doctor originally referred to a type of healer who treated ailments believed to be caused by witchcraft. It is currently used to refer to healers in some third world regions, who use traditional healing rather than contemporary medicine...

 under his older brother, Jamie Brow, and when his older brother died, he took over full responsibility. A high-school dropout, Kony first came to prominence in January 1986. His group was one of many premillennialist
Premillennialism
Premillennialism in Christian end-times theology is the belief that Jesus will literally and physically be on the earth for his millennial reign, at his second coming. The doctrine is called premillennialism because it holds that Jesus’ physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration...

 groups that sprang up in Acholiland in the wake of the wildly popular Holy Spirit Movement
Holy Spirit Movement
The Holy Spirit Movement was the Ugandan rebel group led by Alice Auma, a spirit-medium who claimed to receive direction from the spirit Lakwena. Alice, an ethnic Acholi, was purportedly directed to form the HSM by Lakwena in August 1986...

 of Alice Auma
Alice Auma
Alice Auma was an Acholi spirit-medium who, as the head of the Holy Spirit Movement, led a millennial rebellion against the Ugandan government forces of President Yoweri Museveni from August 1986 until November 1987...

 (aka Lakwena). However, the conflict in the north began with the resentment among the Acholi at their relative loss of influence after the overthrow of Acholi President Tito Okello
Tito Okello
General Tito Lutwa Okello , was a Ugandan Military officer and politician. He was the President of Uganda from 29 July 1985 until 26 January 1986.-Background:Tito Okello was born in 1914 in Kitgum District...

 by Yoweri Museveni
Yoweri Museveni
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is a Ugandan politician and statesman. He has been President of Uganda since 26 January 1986.Museveni was involved in the war that deposed Idi Amin Dada, ending his rule in 1979, and in the rebellion that subsequently led to the demise of the Milton Obote regime in 1985...

 and his National Resistance Army
National Resistance Army
The National Resistance Army , the military wing of the National Resistance Movement , was a rebel army that waged a guerrilla war, commonly referred to as the Luwero War or "the war in the bush", against the government of Milton Obote, and later that of Tito Okello.NRA was supported by Muammar...

 (NRA) during the Ugandan Bush War
Ugandan Bush War
The Ugandan Bush War refers to the guerrilla war waged between 1981 and 1986 in Uganda by the National Resistance Army against the government of Milton Obote, and later that of Tito Okello.-Events leading to the war:Following the Uganda-Tanzania War that removed Idi Amin in 1979, a...

, ending in 1986.

Originally Kony's group was named the United Holy Salvation Army (UHSA) and was not perceived as a threat by the NRA. By 1988, with the accord between NRA and the Uganda People's Democratic Army
Uganda People's Democratic Army
The Uganda People's Democratic Army was a rebel group operating in northern Uganda from March 1986 to June 1988.In January, 1986, the government of Ugandan President Tito Okello was overthrown by the rebel National Resistance Army under the command of Yoweri Museveni, which took the capital city...

 and addition of its remnant troops as well as forced recruitment of children the United Holy Salvation Army was becoming a formidable resistance army. The bulk of his foot soldiers were children. He is estimated to have taken 104,000 or more boys and girls since the LRA started fighting in 1986. He often killed their family and neighbors when abducting these children, forcing them to fight for him. With these remnants of UPDA was commander Odong Latek
Odong Latek
Justine Odong Latek was a brigadier in the government Uganda National Liberation Army . Following the victory of Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army in 1986, Latek formed the rebel Uganda People's Democratic Army . On 20 August 1986, the UPDA began attacks upon NRA units in Acholiland...

, who convinced Kony to use standard military tactics as opposed to its previous attempts which involved attacking in cross-shaped formations and the use of holy water
Holy water
Holy water is water that, in Catholicism, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and some other churches, has been sanctified by a priest for the purpose of baptism, the blessing of persons, places, and objects; or as a means of repelling evil.The use for baptism and...

. The new tactics proved successful and the UHSA delivered several small but stinging defeats against the NRA. After these victories the NRA responded by significantly weakening the Kony's group with political actions and a military campaign named Operation North.

By 1992, Kony had renamed the group United Democratic Christian Army and it was at this time that they kidnapped
Aboke abductions
The Aboke abductions were the abductions of 139 female secondary school students by rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army from St. Mary's College boarding school in Aboke, northern Apac District, Uganda on 10 October 1996. The deputy head mistress of the college, Sister Rachele Fassera of Italy,...

 44 girls from the Sacred Heart Secondary and St. Mary's girls schools. Operation North was devastating to what would become the Lord's Resistance Army
Lord's Resistance Army
The Lord's Resistance Army insurgency is an ongoing guerrilla campaign waged since 1987 by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group, operating mainly in northern Uganda, but also in South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 and with their number reduced from thousands to hundreds still engaged in retaliatory attacks on civilians and NRA collaborators.

Betty Bigombe remembered that the first time she met Kony, his followers used oil to ward-off bullets and evil spirits
Demon
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

. In a letter regarding future talks, Kony stated that he must consult the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

. When the talks did occur they insisted on participation of religious leaders and opened the proceedings with prayers led by LRA's Director of Religious Affairs Jenaro Bongomi. Finally, during the 1994 peace talks Kony appeared preceded by men in robes sprinkling holy water
Holy water
Holy water is water that, in Catholicism, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and some other churches, has been sanctified by a priest for the purpose of baptism, the blessing of persons, places, and objects; or as a means of repelling evil.The use for baptism and...

.

Many international attempts at peace and an end to the abduction of children by Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army
Lord's Resistance Army
The Lord's Resistance Army insurgency is an ongoing guerrilla campaign waged since 1987 by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group, operating mainly in northern Uganda, but also in South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 occurred between 1996 and 2001. All of them failed to end the abductions, rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

, child soldiers, and civilian casualties including attacks on refugee camps. After the September 11th attacks, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 declared the Lord's Resistance Army
Lord's Resistance Army
The Lord's Resistance Army insurgency is an ongoing guerrilla campaign waged since 1987 by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group, operating mainly in northern Uganda, but also in South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 a terrorist group and Joseph Kony a terrorist.

Joseph Kony was thought among followers and detractors alike to have been possessed by spirits
Demonic possession
Demonic possession is held by many belief systems to be the control of an individual by a malevolent supernatural being. Descriptions of demonic possessions often include erased memories or personalities, convulsions, “fits” and fainting as if one were dying...

; he has been portrayed as either the Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

 or the Devil. He reportedly made annual trips to the Ato Hills in Uganda. He would allegedly ascend to the highest of the hills and lie down in the hot sun for days. He would be covered by a blanket of red termites that slashed deeply into his skin. Oil from the Yao plant was spread over his body. Then he would enter a cave and stay in seclusion for weeks. Kony believes in the literal protection provided by a cross symbol and tells his child soldiers a cross on their chest drawn in oil would protect them from bullets. Kony insists that he and the Lord's Resistance Army are fighting for the Ten Commandments.
"Yes, we are fighting for Ten Commandments," "Is it bad? It is not against human rights. And that commandment was not given by Joseph. It was not given by LRA. No, those commandments were given by God."

Indictment



On October 6, 2005, it was announced by the International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

 (ICC) that arrest warrants had been issued for five members of the Lord's Resistance Army
Lord's Resistance Army
The Lord's Resistance Army insurgency is an ongoing guerrilla campaign waged since 1987 by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group, operating mainly in northern Uganda, but also in South Sudan and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 for crimes against humanity
Crime against humanity
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

 following a sealed indictment. On the next day Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

n defense minister Amama Mbabazi
Amama Mbabazi
Patrick Amama Mbabazi is a senior Ugandan lawyer and politician. He is the current Prime Minister of Uganda, a position he has held since 24 May 2011. Prior to his current position, he served as the Minister for Security in the Ugandan Cabinet, from February 2009 until May 2011...

 revealed that the warrants include Joseph Kony, his deputy Vincent Otti
Vincent Otti
Vincent Otti was deputy-leader of the Lord's Resistance Army , a rebel guerrilla army operating mainly in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. He was one of the five persons for whom the International Criminal Court issued its first arrest warrants on 8 July 2005...

, and LRA commanders Raska Lukwiya
Raska Lukwiya
Raska Lukwiya was the third highest ranking leader of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group founded in northern Uganda. Believed to be a native of Uganda's northern Gulu District, Lukwiya served successively as Brigade General, Deputy Army Commander and Army Commander of the LRA, the last being...

, Okot Odiambo and Dominic Ongwen
Dominic Ongwen
Dominic Ongwen is the Brigade Commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group founded in northern Uganda. As the head of one of the four LRA brigades, Ongwen is a member of the "Control Altar" of the LRA that directs military strategy...

. According to spokesmen for the military, the Ugandan army killed Lukwiya on August 12, 2006.

A week later, on October 13, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo
Luis Moreno Ocampo
José Luis Moreno OcampoMoreno Ocampo's surnames are often hyphenated in English-language media to distinguish Moreno as a surname, rather than a given name. is an Argentine lawyer who has been the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court since June 16, 2003...

 released details on Kony's indictment. There are 33 charges, 12 counts are crimes against humanity, which include murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement and rape. There are another 21 counts of war crimes which include murder, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, inducing rape, and forced enlisting of children into the rebel ranks. Ocampo said that "Kony was abducting girls to offer them as rewards to his commanders."

On July 31, 2006, Kony met with several cultural, political, and religious leaders from northern Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 at his hideout in the Congolese forests to discuss the war. The following day, August 1, he crossed the border into Sudan to speak with Southern Sudan Vice President Riek Machar
Riek Machar
Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon , is the first vice-president of the independent Republic of South Sudan.Riek Machar obtained a PhD in mechanical engineering in 1984 and then joined the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army during the Second Sudanese Civil War...

. Kony later told reporters that he would not be willing to stand trial at the ICC because he had not done anything wrong.

On November 12, 2006, Kony met Jan Egeland
Jan Egeland
Jan Egeland was the United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator from June 2003 to December 2006. Egeland was appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and succeeded Kenzo Oshima...

, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Undersecretary-General for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief. Kony told Reuters
Reuters
Reuters is a news agency headquartered in New York City. Until 2008 the Reuters news agency formed part of a British independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data...

: "We don't have any children. We only have combatants."

On August 28, 2008, the United States Treasury Department placed Kony on its list of "Specially Designated Global Terrorist
Specially Designated Global Terrorist
Specially Designated Global Terrorist is a designation authorized under U.S. Executive Order 13224 , among other executive orders, and Title 31, Parts 595, 596, and 597 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, among other U.S. laws and regulations. SDGT designations are administered and enforced...

s," a designation that carries financial and other penalties. It is not known whether Kony has any assets that are affected by this designation.

The Ugandan military has attempted to kill Kony for most of the insurgency. Uganda's latest attempt towards tracking down Kony has been to enlist the help of former LRA combatants to search remote areas of the Central African Republic, the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he was last seen.

U.S. action against Kony


In May 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 signed into law the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, legislation aimed at stopping Kony and the LRA. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 on March 11, 2010 with 65 senators as cosponsors, then passed unanimously in the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 on May 13, 2010 with 202 representatives as cosponsors.

In November 2010, Obama delivered a strategy document to Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, asking for more money to disarm Kony and the LRA.

In October 2011, Obama authorized the deployment of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. troops to central Africa. They will help regional forces “remove from the battlefield” Joseph Kony and senior LRA leaders. "Although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense," Obama said in a letter to Congress.

See also


  • Children of War
    Children of War
    Children of War is an award-winning, feature-length documentary film directed by Bryan Single and released in 2010. Filmed in northern Uganda over a period of three years, the story follows the journey of a group of former child soldiers as they undergo a process of trauma therapy and emotional...

  • The World's 10 Most Wanted
    The World's 10 Most Wanted
    The World's Most Wanted Fugitive is a list published by the American publishing and media company Forbes. The list contains ten fugitives that Forbes, with the help of international law enforcement agencies, deems as the world's most wanted. The list was first published in April 2008...

  • Invisible Children
    Invisible Children
    Invisible Children: Rough Cut is a 2003 American documentary film. Its subject is the abduction and forced enlistment of children by the sectarian Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda.-Synopsis:...

    (2003 documentary film)

External links