Entries in Joseph Kony (8)


US General: American Military Spies 'Across Africa'

Sam Farmar/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- America's top commander in Africa revealed that the U.S. military has conducted spy operations all over the continent as part of the fight against international adversaries from al Qaeda-allied terror groups that target the homeland to suspected war criminals like Joseph Kony.

"Do we collect information across Africa? Yes, we do," U.S. Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, said in a leadership conference at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies Monday.

In an attempt to clarify recent press reports that the U.S. military had set up "spy locations" throughout Africa, Ham said that U.S. troops do at times go on "short-term deployments of capabilities" in various African nations, but always with the permission of the host country.

Ham did not explain what exactly those capabilities are, but gave as an example the hunt for Joseph Kony, the notorious leader of the brutal Lord's Resistance Army -- a hunt the U.S. military has supported with the permission of four local governments. Last October, President Obama announced that 100 American special operations troops had been sent to central Africa to help track Kony.

"To have some intelligence collection capability that has the ability to monitor the areas in which we believe the Lord's Resistance Army is operating, to be able to see, to be able to listen, to be able to collect information which we then pass to the four nations, four African nations, which are participating, I think is a good way ahead," Ham said.

Ham's admission comes two weeks after the Washington Post reported that the U.S. military had secretly expanded its presence in Africa to include a network of small air bases used to spy on terrorist organizations there. According to the Post, the military uses small, unarmed turbo-prop planes disguised as private charters to carry out sensitive intelligence collection.

Part of that program appeared to have been revealed in February when the Department of Defense announced the deaths of four special operations servicemen near Djibouti. The four men died after their U-28 plane -- a "non-standard" surveillance aircraft similar in appearance to a private plane -- was involved in an accident.

Ham echoed fears previously voiced by U.S. officials to ABC News about a possible foothold extremist groups like al Qaeda may be trying to make in Libya and elsewhere in Africa. AQIM, an al Qaeda offshoot based in northwestern Africa, has publicly said it has "benefitted" from the chaos in Libya already.

Ham said that the U.S. is working closely with officials in Libya to determine a future role for the U.S. military in the north African nation that will likely involve assistance, but "certainly not a large military presence [and] probably no permanent military presence."

On the continent's eastern end, Ham said the U.S. has taken the "ideal role" in battling al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-allied terrorist group based in Somalia. There, Ham said the U.S. is engaged in training, equipping and funding African military partners to beat back the terrorist organization, which counts among its members a number of U.S.-born jihadis.

"Not a large U.S. military presence, we think that would be counter-productive actually in Somalia, but rather applying the resources that we do have to help those countries that are willing to contribute to this effort," he said. "I think that's a pretty good model for us."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Joseph Kony Top Commander Captured in Central Africa

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A senior commander in the rebel army of the world’s most wanted warlord is now in custody, according to Ugandan military officials.

Joseph Kony’s top military strategist, Ceasar Acellam, was taken into custody in a region near the border between Congo and Central African Republic, following a firefight with 30 rebels. Two other rebel fighters were arrested with him.

Joseph Kony gained international attention earlier this year when a viral video about his atrocities in central Africa was viewed more than 100 million times.  California-based advocacy group Invisible Children created the video as part of a social media campaign calling for his capture by the end of this year.

For nearly three decades Kony and members of his Lord’s Resistance Army have been attacking rural villages across four central Africa countries and have become notorious for mutilating victims and forcing children to become soldiers and sex slaves.  In 2005, he was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Last year, President Obama sent 100 Special Forces troops to central Africa to advise the Ugandan army and other regional armies searching for Kony.  Even though it is believed his army has dwindled to less than 300 fighters, the U.S. military said it is possible it could take years to capture him.

The search is proving to be extremely difficult because Kony’s fighters are roaming in a dense jungle in an area the size of California, and they have stopped using phones and radios to avoid detection.

A senior U.N. official said there are indications Kony is feeling the pressure of the stepped up efforts to find him.

Abou Moussa, head of the U.N. Regional Office for Central Africa told reporters Friday defectors have said he is now moving locations nearly every day to avoid capture.  Moussa said they have found traces of where he has stayed.

Also last week, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters he is confident Kony will be killed or captured by the end of the year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Senate Resolution Condemns Uganda’s Joseph Kony

Sam Farmar/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A group of 33 Senators introduced a resolution on Wednesday condemning “the crimes against humanity” committed by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Joseph Kony’s atrocities in Uganda have been in the headlines since a 30-minute video went viral, produced by the “Invisible Children” campaign to bring Kony to justice.

The resolution calls for “supporting ongoing international efforts to remove Kony from the battlefield,” and for the United States “to continue to enhance its mobility, intelligence and logistical support of regional forces now pursuing the LRA.”

“Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army have burned a path of destruction through Uganda and its neighbors in central Africa for the last 25 years,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, said on Wednesday. “One-third of the United States Senate has joined me in condemning the LRA’s unconscionable crimes against humanity. The broad and bipartisan backing of this resolution demonstrates that we strongly support ongoing efforts to capture or kill Joseph Kony.”

The resolution supports continued efforts by the United States to “strengthen the capabilities of regional military forces deployed to protect civilians and pursue commanders of the LRA,” and calls for cross-border efforts to increase civilian protection and provide assistance to populations affected by the LRA.

The resolution has the support of nine Republican senators, among the 33 Senate supporters.

“In order to combat terror and prevent further devastation caused by the hands of Joseph Kony, it is imperative that he is found and the LRA is finally disarmed,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said, “Only then, will we be able to bring stability to Africa.”

The resolution will be considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee first, possibly at its March 27 meeting, Senate aides said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Kony 2012' Activist Filmmaker Arrested

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire(SAN DIEGO) -- Invisible Children co-founder and director of the Kony 2012 viral video Jason Russell was arrested in San Diego Thursday night for intoxication, masturbating in public and vandalizing cars, according to reports.

Russell was allegedly dancing around an intersection wearing “speedo-like underwear.” He then removed the underwear and made sexual gestures, sources told TMZ.

Ben Keesey, CEO of Invisible Children, said Russell had been dealing with health problems and was hospitalized on Thursday.

“Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, and malnutrition. He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better,” Keesey said in a statement. “The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday. ”

In the past two weeks, a 30-minute video produced and voiced by Russell has gone viral. Supporters, many of whom learned about alleged Ugandan war lord Joseph Kony for the first time through the video, purchased t-shirts and action kits to help fund Invisible Children’s quest to bring Kony to justice.

“Jason’s passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue,” Keesey said. “We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama First Heard About Kony Video from Daughter Malia

Kent Nishimura/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama met Thursday with two activists focused on Sudan, actor George Clooney and John Prendergast of The ENOUGH Project.

Among the many items they discussed was the Kony 2012 video (currently up to 79 million hits on YouTube), which brings attention to accused war criminal Joseph Kony, thought to be in the Central African Republic.

Clooney later revealed that, having been out of the country, he hasn’t seen the video.

According to a senior administration official, President Obama first heard about the video the same way so many people have: from one of his children.

In this case, it was from Malia, 13.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Kony 2012′ Escaped Child Soldier Supports Movie

Sam Farmar/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Jacob Acaye, the former child soldier featured in the “Kony 2012″ viral sensation, told ABC News Friday that although attention from the film was overwhelming, his life was good now and it was important for people to see the video.

“It’s a hard movie,” he said Friday in an exclusive interview. “It brought back some memories. … I still don’t know when will it end. The more time is ticking, the more people are dying. The more people are still suffering.  The more people [are] being abducted.”

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

At the age of 11, Acaye was one of 41 youth taken from a Ugandan village by Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army.

In the video, Acaye, who escaped from the LRA, was interviewed by videographer Jason Russell, a cofounder of the San Diego-based charity Invisible Children Inc.

“We worry. The rebels when they arrest us again, then they will kills us,” he says in the video. “My brother tried to escape. Then they killed him. … They cut his neck. … I saw.”

“Kony 2012″ has garnered nearly 58 million views since Monday. It is part of a campaign by Invisible Children to bring Kony to justice, although the group has faced its own critics for its religious affiliations and financial practices.

In “Kony 2012,” he tells Russell that even though he’s not with the LRA, he wants to die. Then, at least, he would be reunited with his brother.

“No one is taking care of us,” he says. “We are not going to school.”

Acaye is now 21 and studying to become a lawyer at Uganda’s Makerere University  -- it’s a wish he shared in the 30-minute film released by Invisible Children.

He said that when the video was shot -- he was 13 -- he did not think it would reach this level of success.

“By then, I was like really, really invisible -- like real meaning of invisible children,” he said. “We are like the children who are not seen. Children who are not even knowing that they are suffering.”

Acaye told ABC News Friday that while the video reminded him of horrible memories of his childhood, it made people aware of Kony.

“If they [people] know and they have seen and they could learn that Kony is still being the same in that movie, they can think about what to do,” he said. “And they can think about what they can do.”

Human rights groups say the LRA has terrorized Central Africa for more than 20 years, killing and maiming thousands of civilians and forcing children to become young soldiers. Kony and his commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Kony 2012' Charity Invisible Children Addresses Its Critics

Sam Farmar/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A 30-minute YouTube film critical of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has logged close to 37 million views since Monday, but the charity behind the video is suddenly on the defensive, forced to explain its motives, financial practices and religious affiliations.

Invisible Children Inc. said its intention was to "create a cultural tipping point" even as critics took to the Internet to recount their concerns.

"We want to do some epic things because our time on Earth is so short," Jason Russell, an Invisible Children co-founder and filmmaker, told ABC News. "Why not do this? Start here with Kony. Use him as the example of what injustice looks like in the world and then we're going to move to the next one and the next one."

The San Diego-based nonprofit uploaded the video "Kony 2012" to bring attention to Kony and the rebel group Lord's Resistance Army, which human rights groups say has terrorized central Africa for years. The video is part of a campaign that includes an April 20 call for supporters to blanket their cities with Kony 2012 posters.

With the viral sensation, however, has come criticism. Several Internet sites have drawn attention to the group's evangelical roots, a 2008 photo of the charity's founders posing with guns and how it has disbursed its funds.

Invisible Children responded to most of the allegations in a statement on its website.

Russell said that although the group's concept -- "treat our children around the world the way we would treat our own children” -- was faith-based, Invisible Children didn't want to be defined that way.

"We are unorthodox and if you don't accept the unorthodoxy of what we do, then you won't get it," he said.

"We have supporters from all walks of life and all backgrounds and we're united under this umbrella," he said. "This umbrella of peace and exposing the story of the Invisible Children that Joseph Kony has had for this long."

But an image circulating the Internet has highlighted the group's uneasy relationship with its detractors. In the photo, Invisible Children's founders -- Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole -- posed with guns with members of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Critic Grant Oyston of the student-run blog Visible Children said that the photograph showed that the group supported direct military intervention.

On the charity's website, Russell said the photo had been taken at the 2008 Juba Peace Talks during which Kony was supposed to sign a peace treaty. He called the snapshot a "joke photo" to take back to family and friends.

But Glenna Gordon, an Associated Press photographer who took a few pictures that day, including the one of the founders with the weapons, said on her blog that she felt uncomfortable taking the photo.

"It just contributes to the stereotypes of kids messing stuff up by showing the worst of the worst and showing it without context," she wrote. "It adds to the Invisible Children bad a-- mythology even while attempting to cast doubt on their practices. ... At the end of the day, I do hope that all of this can make us look at Invisible Children with a more critical glance."

The charity came about after the three Southern California filmmakers headed to Africa in 2003 and later released a documentary about the child soldiers.

According to Human Rights Watch, in the past 20 years, Kony's LRA has killed and mutilated thousands of civilians -- and forced children to become fighters -- in Uganda and neighboring countries. Kony and his top commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Solome Lemma, founder of HornLight, an online forum focused on countries in the horn of Africa discussed the problem with the video’s message.

"Simply, a long socioeconomic and political conflict that has lasted 25+ years and engaged multiple states and actors has been reduced to a story of the good vs bad guy," said Lemma. "This approach obviously denies realities on the ground, inflates fantasies abroad, and strips Ugandans of their agency, dignity and humanity- the complexity of their story and history. The work, consequence, and impact are all focused on Uganda, but the agency, accountability, and resources lie among young American students. Clearly a dangerous imbalance of power and influence; one that can have adverse lasting effects on how and what people know of Uganda. It reduces the story of Northern Uganda, and perhaps even all of Uganda, into the dreaded single narrative of need and war, followed by western resolve and rescue."

In 2010, President Obama signed into law a bill aimed at stopping the LRA and bringing stability to Uganda. And in October, he sent 100 troops to Uganda to help regional forces battle the LRA and capture or kill Kony.

Russell said the charity's programs in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan included the building of a rehabilitation center, an expanded and early-warning radio network connecting communities and an LRA crisis tracker, which is a mapping platform and data-collection system.

But Visible Children pointed out that although Invisible Children had spent more than $8.6 million last year, "only 32 percent went to direct services with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production."

Russell defended the group's spending, saying that Invisible Children needed to spend money on advocacy and awareness of young people, especially in the West.

"Let's be honest. They set the agenda. What they like matters," he said. "We need to educate and transform and reshape [their] paradigm to saying, 'This is what really matters. This is what we can really do.' ... So we do spend money on our films and on our advocacy and awareness. We are proud of that.

"When someone posts only 30 percent or 40 percent is going to the actual ground -- it's an old paradigm where every nonprofit was trying to get 98 percent of all funds to the region that's in conflict. That's an old model.

"We have strategically been putting all the puzzle pieces, all the dominoes in place, and everything is prepped for him to come to the Hague. ... This is never ever happened in 26 years of the conflict," he said. "We need to make sure everyone is aware who Kony is. By making him famous, we will bring his crimes to the light and bring the children who've been abducted back home. That's the goal."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Kony 2012′ Campaign Against Uganda Warlord Takes Over Internet

Sam Farmar/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If you logged onto Facebook at any point Wednesday, you may very well have found friends and others sharing “Kony 2012,” a 30-minute YouTube film on the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony.

The nonprofit charity Invisible Children Inc. uploaded the video Monday to bring attention to Kony and the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army, which has terrorized central Africa for several years. The YouTube video currently has more than 7 million views.

The hashtag #stopkony has been trending worldwide on Twitter.

On its Facebook page, Invisible Children says it “uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in Central Africa to peace and prosperity.”

The charity came about after three Southern California filmmakers returned from Africa and released a documentary on the children forced to fight under Kony’s leadership.

In October, President Obama sent 100 troops to Uganda to help regional forces battle the LRA and capture or kill Kony.

During that announcement, he said that for more than two decades the LRA had been responsible for having “murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa” and continues to “commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”

On April 20, the group is asking supporters to cover their hometowns with posters calling for Kony to be brought to justice. On its website, supporters can sign a petition and contribute to the cause by buying T-shirts, posters and bracelets.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio