Hunting the world’s most wanted warlord: Joseph Kony
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Hunting the world’s most wanted warlord: Joseph Kony

November 30, 2019

Logan: Very little is known about a sensitive mission being carried out by a hundred u.S. Special operations troops deep in the jungles of central africa. They’ve joined several thousand african soldiers in one of the biggest manhunts that’s ever taken place. Their goal is to help kill or capture the world’s most wanted warlord, joseph kony, and destroy his army. This mission is part of a broader u.S. Effort to counter the emerging threat to america from the growth of terrorist networks across africa. Joseph kony has been on a murderous rampage that has lasted almost three decades, killing thousands and building one of the biggest armies of child soldiers in history. Kony started out in northern uganda, but his campaign has spread to four countries, and he’s now operating in this vast, lawless area in the center of africa. Our story, which includes images you may find disturbing, begins in the central african republic, with an elite tracking team from the ugandan military that’s searching for kony in some of the most remote jungle on earth. You don’t have to spend much time here to understand why it’s so hard to find joseph kony. It’s as isolated and unforgiving as it gets. The undergrowth so thick, every step is a battle. When our producer, jeff newton, joined this ugandan tracking team, they’d been searching for kony and his army– called the lord’s resistance army, or l.R.A.– For three months, tracking them the way you would an animal. Kasim Lukumbo: Right now, we are searching for the enemy tracks. Newton: Footprints? Lukumbo: Yes, the footmarks of the l.R.A. Newton: Yeah. Logan:27-year-old lieutenant kasim lukumbo’s sole mission for the past three years has been finding kony, and he’s one of the ugandan army’s top trackers. The footprints are the first sign they’ve seen of kony’s army in six days. (Soldiers whispering) as they followed the trail, the soldiers whispered so as not to give away their positions. After an hour, they reached this stream, but the tracks disappeared into the water. Newton: No l.R.A.? Ugandan Soldier: No l.R.A. Let’s go back. Newton: Okay. Logan: There were no green berets on this mission. They do go out on operations like this, but they prefer to stay in the background. Keeping a low profile is part of the u.S. Strategy. Col. Kurt Crytzer: They’re the lead. They’ve always been the lead. We’re relatively new here. We’ve only been here just about a year. It’s really an african problem. It’s being handled by africans. Logan: Colonel kurt crytzer, a veteran green beret of 23 years, flew with us over the seemingly endless jungle, where the area they’re searching is as big as texas. He took command of the u.S. Special operations mission here not long after president obama decided to send in troops 18 months ago. Crytzer: The environment is some of the most unforgiving on planet earth. When you get to the jungle, 50 feet in, you disappear. Logan: You’re like a ghost. Crytzer: You’re like a ghost. Logan: Joseph kony was 26 when he disappeared into the jungle more than 25 years ago. Since then, his army has wiped out entire villages and burned houses down with children inside. They’re known for cutting off the ears and lips of innocent people as a way to terri into submission. And no one has suffered more than the children. The state department says kony’s army has abducted more than 25,000. He turns the boys into killers, the girls into a harem of sex slaves and wives. This video of kony addressing his followers is one of the few times he’s been filmed. He’s from a religious family in northern uganda, an altar boy who became a witch doctor. When he started out, he wanted his lord’s resistance army to establish a government based on the ten commandments, but he’s broken almost every one of them and his army is little more than a murderous cult. Crytzer: Some things you just can’t turn your… A blind eye to, and I believe this is one case of that. Logan: The u.S. Turned a blind eye to joseph kony for more than 20 years. Crytzer: I can’t account for why we did or why we didn’t come. What I can tell you is, we are here now. (Singing) Logan: Colonel crytzer and his men are the bridge between four african armies who are working to find kony and his fighters. These soldiers are from the central african republic where many people believe kony might be hiding. The americans train them in their native french, using the language skills that come with being a green beret. And they show them how to make the best of the little they have, like using their beret as a field dressing or a stick as a makeshift tourniquet. Colonel crytzer says they have to know how to treat themselves or they die. Crytzer: Our guys bring support in small numbers. This is traditional advisory. This is something that looks like two american advisers out with 40 ugandans on a tracking team. This is one guy going around throughout the villages to build relationships. Logan: Building relationships is central to the mission of green berets no matter where they are in the world. To earn the trust of the locals in these villages, colonel crytzer’s soldiers use their skills in unlikely ways, helping out at the local dentist and even delivering babies. Together with diplomats from the state department, they meet with the local tribes every day. Crytzer: So, I thank you very much for the information with us, helping provide the whereabouts of the l.R.A. Logan: They’re trained to help, and it’s a chance to learn more about their targets. Crytzer: If you think about our experiences with osama bin laden, we had some of the best platforms in the world flying in all the wrong places for eight years. In the end, it was human intelligence that led to him. In the end, it’s going to be human intelligence here that leads to joseph kony. Logan: He told us some of the best human intelligence has come from those closest to kony, like this man captured by ugandan forces last year: Major general caesar acellam. The ugandan military granted us a rare interview with him. He’s the highest-ranking l.R.A. Commander ever to be taken alive and knows more than almost anybody about what kony’s doing Acellam: Kony is only struggling for survival. Logan: As kony fights for his survival, he’s still killing people. He’s still terrorizing villages. Acellam: Yes, he’s doing it. Logan: Acellam, who claims he was abducted as a young man, spent 20 years with kony, and for much of that time he was his chief of intelligence. We pressed him on the role he played in the countless atrocities carried out in kony’s name. You were part of an army that abducted children, that taught children to kill in a terrible way, to beat people to death, to crush their skulls, where young girls were raped. Did you witness that? Acellem: I would say, in a sense. Logan: Not “in a sense.” Yes or no? Acellam: There were a number of things that you might not have wanted to do, but you do it. And all these people were doing atrocities, do it under kony’s instruction. Logan: Including you? Acellam: Under kony’s instructions. Logan: Including you? Acellam: Yes. Logan: Acellam told us kony rules by fear and claims he has mystical powers, a formidable combination in the minds of the children he kidnaps. These young men were all soldiers in his army, rescued just a few months ago in the central african republic and brought home to northern uganda. They were all younger than 13 when they were taken from their families. Franklin (translated): We were told this was god’s war, so, out of fear of god, i believed everything I was told, and I followed. Logan: Franklin, dennis and james all described a bizarre religious ceremony they had to undergo when they were initiated into kony’s army. James (translated): When you just arrive, they smear some oil in the shape of a cross on your forehead here and on your chest and your back. And that’s supposed to change you. Logan: Does it work? James (translated): Yes, it works. It changes you completely. Dennis (translated): It numbs any thought you may have. It kills everything. You just listen to what joseph kony says. Logan: And what kony and his commanders told these young men to do is almost beyond description. Franklin (translated): If a new abductee tries to escape, all of the children were ordered to bite them to death. Logan: They would… They would bite them with their teeth? Franklin: Yes, until they died. Betty Bigombe: They were robbed of their rights as children. Logan: And robbed of their innocence. Bigombe: Robbed of their innocence. Logan: Betty bigombe has spent more than two decades trying to help uganda’s child soldiers return to their families. She told us this is what northern uganda looked like just a few years ago– entire villages of children on the move, driven by fear and walking for miles to sleep in a place where kony’s army couldn’t snatch them from their beds. For years, they would do this every night and return home in the morning. Bigombe: You look at these children and say they cannot feel secure to think I can sleep without thinking of anybody coming in to abduct or to kill them. Logan: Did you hate kony for what he’d done? Bigombe: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Logan: Yet for many years, she’s been the driving force behind the ugandan government’s efforts to make peace with kony. When she first tried to contact him, he responded by sending her a message that was delivered in the most horrifying way. Bigombe: I was faced with five people. They’d been amputated and given letters to bring to me. Logan: Five people with their limbs hacked off, with a letter for you that says what? Bigombe: Yes. The letter was all very bloody. The letter was saying that they were coming to kill me. I should stop mobilizing people against them. Logan: But that didn’t put you off? That didn’t stop you? Bigombe: No. If anything, it gave me even more determination. Logan: Kony finally agreed to meet with her in 1994. To find him deep in the jungle, she says she had to walk for hours, escorted by his child soldiers. Bigombe: The speed at which they move in this jungles is amazing. They literally glide in. You see dust. And when he was coming, my god, the drama. Logan: Bigombe, who you see here, gave us this video of the meeting. ♪ Bigombe: His supporters were dressed like nuns, and then they were singing. And then others would drop down that the demon was coming. So many things happening at the same time. And, of course, you look at this: “My god, where am i? What’s going on in here?” Now, when I’m seeing him sitting right there, I’m thinking, “i wish I could just open his brain and understand why he does what he does.” Logan: Bigombe left that meeting without a peace deal, and today the u.S. Is pouring millions into getting kony’s soldiers to give up. Caesar acellam who once stood at kony’s side, is at the center of that effort, working with the very enemy he once fought. He’s hoping for amnesty and is now the face and the voice of this campaign, recording messages that are then broadcast over areas of the jungle where kony’s soldiers are believed to be hiding. And when colonel crytzer’s men hand out leaflets to the villagers, it’s acellam’s face they see. Crytzer: You have a picture of caesar acellam on there. That’s pretty powerful. Logan: So, the idea is, if members of the l.R.A. Sees someone who was as senior as ceasar acellam and he’s safe and well, that that will convince people that there’s a safe way out of this? Crytzer: That’s correct. Logan: Colonel crytzer says he knows it’s working because kony’s soldiers have been defecting in increasing numbers, and his army is down to just a few hundred men. Recently, the ugandans and the u.S. Temporarily suspended their hunt in the central african republic because of political unrest, but not before ugandan soldiers killed kony’s chief bodyguard close to where we filmed them, a sign that joseph kony’s days may finally be numbered. How has one man been able to evade so many forces for so long? Crytzer: He’s a survivor. He’s not an admirable human being, but he’s… He’s an admirable adversary. Logan: So, do you think you and the ugandans are… Are getting closer to kony? Crytzer: I believe we are. I can now wake up in the morning honestly and say, “is today the

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  1. These Omuzungus just came to shoot movies…. They know nothing about Kony. Ask yourself where do LRA get their animation and those heavy machine guns. It's a Waste of resources in stead of helping affected people, they're busy shooting useless movies.

  2. I honestly know nothing about that war or Koni. but what I do know is to never trust the news reports coming from the white man

  3. i aint for terrorism, but how is a rebel movement in DRC a threat to the national security of the US? Is this not a reason the US intends to use to gain entry into the mineral-rich nation? Sheenzi sana

  4. If this was looked as we look at Muslim extremists we would blame CHRISTIANITY as a whole for the crimes of these individuals who twist around religions for their own benefits.

  5. These Hamites are something else!!?.. U see why The Most High told Israel not to mingle with the inhabitants of the land??

  6. I hate what we are doing in AFRICA we blinded by these bloody Americans and WEST..we ten to TRUST these Prime Criminals more than anything ….nw we have a majority of Crminal president around AFRICA..because of what they agreed with these Criminals from them there is no way out…we should been Isolated ourselves long Time ago from these Jackals..One day Africa will clean its self…those who advocate for them will be bound to follow them….we are tired…Malcom X once clarified more about the Problems of House Negroes.

  7. Put a reward of a 50 million USD after taxes n I'll gather the ole boys. An give us US air support with a few A10s n base camps. I know 32 others n we'll get the job done. An access to the US Embassys or safe house No ROEs n free reign of operations with no restraint nor restrictions. Old school,,,

  8. Kony doesnt exist he was just staged by dictator murderer corrupt Uganda ?? president Museveni’s government just to steal money ? from western countries nd all d war crimes committed to northern Uganda people were done by Museveni’s troops not kony..

  9. I'm sure if you ask the Chinese they would know. But we can use this as our inroad to the poliphforation
    Of Africa's vast resources.


  11. Kony is far less vicious than the suit wearing hawks in D.C, who due to their hands off methods of taking lives assume the morale high ground!

  12. If his army was of any strength or size , tracking them wouldnt be difficult. They wouldnt require a tracker since they leave a trail of destruction

  13. Why are millions of US taxpayers dollars being spent trying to find a few hundred African child soldiers and their leader ? It would be far more appropriate for good Africans to take out their own trash. He is a few hundred child soldiers committing atrocities in 4 seperate African nations with millions of citizens and well armed militaries. If they truly wanted to stop this person they could. But I think the real objective is to bring in millions of US dollars . Inevitably there will be the financial enrichment of corrupt African officials and a incentive for more of the same situations throughout Africa. We need to take care of US problems with US tax payer money. Not everyone elses

  14. What a f**** Savage this man is!. Upon any and everybody, a person can be possessed with great evil and very much destruction within themselves. This is ridiculous and this is pointless upon what this man is doing.

  15. USA Israel and some Europeans countries are liers and against the mankid and they want to control the world but they are mistaken and very soon the time comes when world is going against these countries.death to west USA and Israel.

  16. Why are the USA always trying to solve other countries problems when right down the street from the White House are homeless veterans and families???

  17. It's crazy how they send so few troops. As soon as we lose a few and they want to pull out like in Somalia, So what's the point, PR?

  18. The American military, has turned a blind eye to what the American government does to American citizens for since the beginning of its existence.

  19. Thanks for help guys after all this time, that's life never been told even before that or described of its in's and outs still going on allover the world. Only one thing I could say is, Tears ?may endure in the morning but joy comes in the. Morning? praise be to the lord, the creater of the universe

  20. Oh like the US hands are clean. USA needs to let Africa handle this problem. "Oh if Africa could handle it they would have already" yeah if we had proper resources and tools we would never ask you for anything infact the world comes to Africa for everything then turn around and point out our faults and tell us bogus reasons as to why we remain poor. If you want to help Africa you help, with no strings attached, often times what we give intern for outside help ends up crippling us. NOT that I support Kony but western invloventment is the reason Kony exists, if we had proper institutions without having foreign governments entertaining corruption.

  21. So this guys fighting in Africa are a threat to America….. How?

    Yet America used former child soldier in Libya and Iraq to fight their dumb terrorist wars

  22. I'm tired of the USA getting involved with other countries problems a civil wars,why do we care if in Africa there's rebel Africans killing there own people

  23. The US is telling Komy where to go and evade the African forces, lol, a templar agent / warlords well informed that is why he could easily evade African forces. Clearly!

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