News / Africa

LRA's Joseph Kony: Leader of 23-Year Terror Campaign

The leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony , left, and his deputy Vincent Otti sit inside a tent in this 2006 file photo at Ri-Kwamba in southern Sudan.
The leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony , left, and his deputy Vincent Otti sit inside a tent in this 2006 file photo at Ri-Kwamba in southern Sudan.

The leader of the notoriously violent Lord's Resistance Army is a mysterious figure who claims his rebel group's 23-year campaign of terror is rooted in spiritual principles.

Joseph Kony was born into northern Uganda's Acholi tribe in the early 1960s.  He gained power as the nephew of the tribe's mystic, whose Holy Spirit Movement called on the Acholi people to retake the capital, Kampala.

After the Ugandan government defeated the Holy Spirit Movement's violent campaign in 1987, Kony filled a power vacuum and formed the LRA.

Kony claimed his group was based on the Biblical Ten Commandments, and said he was a disciple sent by God to bring peace and purity to Uganda.

The LRA launched a brutal fight against the government and terrorized civilians, killing, torturing, mutilating and kidnapping tens of thousands of people.  The rebels are believed to have abducted more than 65,000 children over the years, forcing many to fight against the government or serve as sex slaves.

The rebels eventually left Uganda but remain active in remote areas of the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

In 2008, those countries agreed to work jointly with Uganda to capture Kony and defeat the LRA.  But a military effort failed to capture Kony and the LRA has continued to terrorize communities.

Kony and three of his aides are wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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