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Manhunt For African Warlord Joseph Kony Ends

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The six-year manhunt for African warlord Joseph Kony has ended.

The mission, led by United States and Uganda military forces, also known as the “African Union Regional Task Force (AU-RT),” began in 2013 after the deployment of 360 troops to Central African Republic (CAR) in response to Kony’s heinous crimes across the region. Since 2011, armed U.S. forces provided intelligence and logistics support, at the cost of about $780 million, according to Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Audricia Harris. All have been called off, according to the Associated Press.

Last week, Uganda officially started withdrawing 2,500 troops from their base in eastern CAR, with the U.S. pulling out of Camp Dungu, a remote outpost in the Northwestern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that was once a major point of operations for Kony’s insurgency. Full withdrawal is expected by September.

A former Catholic altar boy, Kony rose to prominence in the 1980s during the Ugandan Bush War, where he founded a rebel movement with fantasies of ruling Uganda in accordance to the Ten Commandments.

Leading the rebel militia group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Kony has since plagued northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan with mass murder, sex trafficking, and the forced recruitment of child soldiers.

According to a U.N. report, the group is responsible for killing over 100,000 people.

After 9/11, the U.S. State Department designated the LRA as a terror group, later placing Kony on its list of “Specifically Designated Global Terrorists.”

In 2005, Kony was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, but evaded capture. That same year, under military pressure, the LRA fled Uganda, moving first to Congo and then to regions of CAR covered in jungle terrain.

Kony became internationally notorious in 2012 after a 30-minute video highlighting the LRA’s crimes went viral. Produced by the U.S.-based advocacy group Invisible Children, “Kony 2012” received over 100 million views on YouTube and drew support from a number of celebrities, activists, and policymakers (including Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, and Kim Kardashian). The video later received public backlash for oversimplifying events in the region, encouraging “slacktivism” and failing to mention human rights violations committed by the Uganda military.

In 2013, under the Obama administration, the U.S. offered up to $5 million for information leading to Kony’s capture.

After fleeing Uganda, Kony’s forces scattered into multiple guerilla factions and are said to number less than 100. Despite the millions of dollars to catch him, Kony, now in his 50s, remains at large, though LRA defectors suggest he is sick and hiding somewhere in the vast, jungle terrains of central Africa.

Donald Trump first signaled the withdrawal in January when his transition team sent out a questionnaire to the State Department querying whether it was worthwhile to continue funding the fight against the LRA and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

“We’ve been hunting [LRA rebel group leader Joseph] Kony for years, is it worth the effort?” the document asked.

The end of the manhunt means Kony may never be caught, leaving the victims of his atrocities without closure. However, many believe the withdrawal is best for U.S. strategic interests and a re-allocation of resources will help others in need.

“I’m sad to see the work opportunity go away, but at the same time I don’t see the point in us continuing to chase him around,” an Air Force pilot formerly stationed out of Obo, a small village in CAR, told The Daily Caller. “There are more imminent threats to national security than a regional warlord.”

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  • David

    Good. It’s not a vital US interest, we can’t solve all the world’s problems. The press blitz on it was amazing, there was a whole PR campaign — but why?