Sunday, January 25, 2009

LRA was high tech in the bush

The ability of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army to stay a step ahead of the Ugandan army and other adversaries is evident with the recent capture of equipment pictured above.
With its wide array of laptop computers and at least a dozen satellite phones and other equipment, the LRA appears to have been able to stay abreast of international developments via the Internet.
Such capacities, however, require computer skills that neither LRA leader Joseph Kony, nor the vast majority of his fighters and commanders have.
Abducted as children from their villages in northern Uganda, most in the LRA have been living in the bush their entire lives. They lack formal education, certainly not computer training, and instead have undergone the bizarre indoctrination at the hands of Kony and his commanders.
So where did all of this equipment come from and who operated it? Satellite phones require the purchase of air time, and you can't buy it in remote villages in the jungle. Who was buying that for the LRA and how was that done?
The mere presence of this equipment and communications devices shows that Kony has an organized system of support far beyond the confines of his camps in the Garamba National Park of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It is this network that should be investigated by the international community as it is clear that this network in the Acholi tribal diaspora has been vital to the survival of the LRA.
Even Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has alluded to this network, as he explained why and how Kony was able to escape the Dec. 14 attack on his camps in Garamba.
Museveni said that among the equipment pictured above, was a radio that may have allowed Kony to monitor communications the Ugandan army and learn of a pending attack.
The Ugandan army know how to keep its communications secure? Or, has the Ugandan army been infiltrated with Kony sympathizers?
The existance of Kony supporters in the Acholi tribal diaspora was evidenced recently when Kony's former negotiators made public their distaste for the LRA's self-proclaimed new spokesman, David Matsanga.
These former representatives, most of them ex-patriots of northern Uganda, also alluded to the formation of a new rebel group called the Uganda People's Liberation Front and Army.
The Kony support network, some have suggested, not only purchased this equipment, but smuggled it in the massive shipments of food and supplies that were paid for by the international community and trucked to the jungle camps of Kony by the Catholic charity, Caritas.
Fortunately, this support for Kony by the international community has ended, and, as far as we can tell, so has Kony's access to electronics. Kony certainly kept a few sat phones as he fled his camp. But they won't last long without batteries, battery chargers, and airtime.
While Kony's ability to wage war may have been damaged, he has yet to be captured or killed. He is still out there, and his soldiers are still killing innocent civilians.
While the Ugandan government has obtained the support of the Central African Republic in the fight against the LRA, it also shows that Uganda is very worried that Kony will head to the CAR.
If he goes there, as many suspect he will, he will become harder and harder to capture or contain, with or without his high tech equipment.