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Joseph Kony


Joseph Kony

Who is he?:

A Ugandan guerrilla known for sending his troops into villages after dark to kidnap children to serve in his army or serve his battalion as sex slaves or porters; those who resisted have been usually viciously maimed with a machete. Made famous on social media after more than 80 million online views of the short documentary "Kony 2012" launched him from semi-obscurity to an internationally hunted man.


Somewhere between July and September 1961 in Odek, Uganda. Born into an Acholi farming family. He reportedly stopped attending church in his teens, but In his mid-20s he became a leader of the United Holy Salvation Army, inspired by the rebel Holy Spirit Movement, an Acholi group battling the government National Resistance Army. Kony's group survived the defeat of the HSM and carries on its aims as the Lord's Resistance Army.

Personal life:

Kony is said to see himself as a spirit medium, like the founder of the Holy Spirit Movement. He's estimated to have taken at least 60 wives, taking his pick from young girls kidnapped by his forces. He's estimated to have fathered more than three dozen children. Kony is said to have told his troops that there are biblical justifications for all of their actions, and that his polygamy comes with Old Testament approval.

Political affiliation:

"I am a freedom fighter, not a terrorist," Kony once proclaimed, stating that his Lord's Resistance Army is fighting for the Ten Commandments. Though the HSM grew from larger grievances of the Acholi people who felt marginalized by the Ugandan government, the LRA's Acholi nationalism is heavily saturated with mysticism and a fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity.


Lord's Resistance Army forces are estimated to be responsible for thousands of deaths, the forced conscription of as many as 100,000 child soldiers, and the displacement of 2 million people throughout central Africa. The LRA was declared a foreign terrorist organization by the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Kony was placed under Treasury Department sanctions in 2008. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have both authorized action to help stop Kony. Kony's career was documented in "Kony 2012," a 30-minute documentary for the group Invisible Children Inc. that went viral on the Internet.


As of this writing, he is thought to be in the Central African Republic. The Ugandan army, employing help from LRA defectors, has tried unsuccessfully to kill Kony over the years. The LRA headquarters has been dispersed. The fresh publicity surrounding his case ups the chances that an alliance of troops from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, assisted by U.S. military advisers, will be able to hunt down Kony and hand him over to the International Criminal Court. There, Kony faces indictments on 33 counts including murder, rape, attacking civilians and sexual enslavements. The African Union has also pledged to send manpower to join the Kony hunt. He's on Interpol's wanted list. In the wake of "Kony 2012," the U.S. Congress also took action to help capture Kony, introducing a resolution in support of efforts to battle the Lord's Resistance Army.

"As we have seen over the past 25 years, Kony’s assault on innocent lives has no limits. Now is the time to help bring Joseph Kony and his fellow criminals to justice. As a nation, let us ensure we have done all that we can to end this ongoing tragedy and hold this evil man accountable for all of his crimes," U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said on the House floor on March 21, 2012. “I thank all the young people throughout my district who have communicated through Twitter and Facebook and different modes of social media to express their outrage over Kony’s evil deeds. But now, let’s take action, let’s pass these bills.”


"Do you think that children can afford that condition of war? …I don't have any children here." -- Kony in a 2006 rare on-camera interview
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