STUTTGART, Germany, Sep 6 – Born in the 1960s, he is a man described as callous and wicked; a warlord on the run.
Joseph Kony is a wanted man for the terror he caused women and children in Uganda, where his evil operations first started before he fled to South Sudan and later to his current hideout in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Kony was the man responsible for kidnappings of thousands of children whom he used as soldiers and sex slaves.
Those who questioned or opposed him were either killed or their limbs, ears and even noses chopped off.
He is a man whose cause for terror was to install a Government in Uganda based on the 10 commandments, as listed in the Bible.
Ironically, the sixth commandment reads “Thou shall not kill.”
“I will communicate with Museveni through the holy spirits and not through the telephone,” BBC reports quote him as once having said.
But there was hope when the Ugandan army joined by a 100 special trained US soldiers launched a finely tuned manhunt of the Lord Resistance Army movement (LRA) leader and his members in CAR.
The US soldiers joined the search for the warlord in 2011 until both forces called off the operation April this year saying Kony and his movement had been weakened.
In March, the US said the hunt for Kony and his ‘army’ was no longer a priority. “Kony is not an issue,” General Thomas Waldhauser, the head of US Africa Command said in a press conference.
– The Search for Kony –
Several East African journalists including this reporter from Capital FM caught up with the General in the US Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, where he shed light of the operation and why it was stopped despite Kony remaining at large.
According to him, the threat may not have been fully eliminated, but it has been degraded.
“Although we did not get Kony himself, the mission got to a time where it was probably time to move on,” he said.
The role of the US, he pointed out, was to train and advise the African forces, those of Uganda during the search mission.
But it is not yet over, he assures.
For example, this week, the command is set to carry out a “90-day assessment” on Kony and his activities since the operation was stopped.
“We have not taken our eyes off the ball totally from that part of the continent,” he said.
“We are watching closely.”
– Security by-product –
It is an operation that cost the United States about $800 million according to Gen. Waldhauser.
“It is unfortunate that we did not get Kony but we learnt a lot of lessons,” he asserted.
He said they were aware that something else “could crop up” (from Kony and his movement) but insisted that together with other African forces, the “eye was still on the ball.”
The Africa command boss however insisted that LRA had been weakened to “irrelevancy.”
Currently, the movement is believed to only have about 100 ‘soldiers’, while Kony has aged and may not offer same leadership as a decade ago.
The International Criminal Court issued a warrant of arrest for him in 2005, accusing him of war crimes.
According to LRA Crisis Tracker, a monitoring group, the movement was responsible for 563 abductions in 171 attacks in 2016 against 737 people who were kidnapped in 2015 during some 222 attacks.
Kony also has a $5m (Sh500 million) bounty on his head.