Soldiers in Joseph Kony’s Lord Resistance Army in 2008.
With the American government, and the Internet, setting their sites on the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony today, a former aide to Michelle Bachmann with a colorful past wants you to know that he found Joseph Kony first.
Peter Waldron, who has worked on Evangelical Christian outreach for Republican candidates including Reagan, both Bushes, and Bachmann, and who drew attention over (contested) terrorism charges he faced in Uganda, emails that “I located Joseph Kony in 2006, but the Ugandan government let him escape.”
A recent video, Kony2012, went viral recording tens of millions of views over the last few days. At the same time, I am celebrating six years since my release from Uganda’s infamous Luzira Prison. One of the allegations made against me by the Ugandan government and the media was that I was in east Africa searching for international terrorist Joseph Kony to collect a $2.5 Million bounty. The problem with that statement is that I was not “searching” for Joseph Kony because my Congolese colleagues knew where Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) were camped.
In 2006, a group of experienced Congolese fighters, to include a chief of the Ituri people, and two Ugandans were offered a contract by the Chief of Military Intelligence (CMI) in Uganda to search for Joseph Kony who had kidnapped, killed, mutilated, and disrupted life among the people in Northern Uganda. The small group of Congolese militia knew Kony’s exact location but the CMI refused to pay them the promised $37,000 until Kony was captured and returned to Uganda. When that deal fell through the same men asked me to draft a strategic plan to enter and exit the Garamba Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“Congo”) and provide financing. The plan was developed and set in motion.
As the Congolese left Kampala, one of their group was discovered to have a weapon in a canvas bag slung over his shoulder. A crowd surrounded the young man who when threatened by the size of the crowd and the police, volunteered my name. Within an hour or two of his arrest a truck carrying a dozen or more police dressed in riot gear arrived at my front gate. I was arrested and charged with “terrorism”, a capital crime, because of my political activity in eastern Congo and among Born-again pastors and churches in Uganda.
The consensus in Uganda among academics, many members of the media, and church leaders was that the government did not want Kony captured because he served the purposes of four-term President Yoweri Museveni who is from a tribe in Southeast Uganda. Kony created violent unrest among tribesmen, women and children in the northern region of Uganda that historically provided political leadership to the nation; Kony generated a steady influx of Faith Base Organizations (“FBO”) and Non-Governmental Organizations (“NGO”) who brought valuable foreign currency into the nation; and the demand for Kony’s capture provided incentives for foreign governments to increase funding, training and technology to the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF). Joseph Kony for all intents and purposes was the proverbial goose who laid eggs of gold for Museveni’s Uganda.
I was released from Luzira Prison on March 27, 2006.