United States Special Operations Forces will no longer be hunting for the African warlord Joseph Kony. Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has seen his number of followers dwindle down to around 100 is no longer a priority to capture for US forces.
Kony was branded a “specially designated global terrorist” by the International Criminal Court, based out of Geneva, in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Particularly heinous was his abduction and forcing into the sex-slave trade of thousands of children.
A spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command said that troops were being withdrawn because of the apparent weakening of Kony’s fighting force, which reportedly has dwindled to about 100 soldiers from a peak of 3,000.
The U.S. will “transition to broader-scope security and stability activities that continue the success of our African partners,” the military group maintained.
Prior to the announcement, Michale Omona, a key aide to Kony, surrendered to Ugandan forces. This proved the “degraded capacity” of the rebel group, said a Ugandan military spokesman. Omona was in charge of communications for Kony.
The LRA, which began in the 1980s, was internationally reviled for its cruelty towards civilians in Uganda, Congo, Central African Republic and what is now South Sudan. Some 20,000 children were reportedly abducted.
With the United States’ withdrawal, the onus on stopping the remnants of Kony’s forces falls to the soldiers of the Ugandan Army. The troops assigned to hunting his forces down number around 1500.
A member of President Trump’s transition team reportedly said that Kony had never attacked US interests so the US shouldn’t care about him and that since the Ugandans no longer view him as a threat due to his force structure dwindling, that the United States should no longer view him as one either.
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Photo courtesy DOD