What is the Lord's Resistance Army?
Members of the Lord's Resistance Army stand guard in November 2008.
October 14th, 2011
03:17 PM ET

What is the Lord's Resistance Army?

The Lord's Resistance Army, formed in the late 1980s, is a sectarian military and religious group that operates in northern Uganda and South Sudan. It has committed numerous abuses and atrocities such as abducting, raping, maiming and killing civilians, including women and children, according to globalsecurity.org. Its members are known for hacking off the lips and ears of their victims, looting villages and burning huts, and stealing clothes and medicine from the communities they terrorize, CNN has reported.

On Friday, President Barack Obama announced that he is sending about 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help hunt down the group's leaders.

The Lord's Resistance Army has sought to overthrow the Ugandan government and has contributed to instability across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

It is led by Joseph Kony, who professes to have spiritual powers. He is often "underrated" as a leader, according to a 2011 Jane's report on the group. Kony has claimed to be possessed by spirits who dictate the group's strategy. Jane's notes that the tactic has served him well, enabling him to speak to followers who have mixed beliefs. By portraying himself as a medium with supernatural abilities, his authority becomes harder to question within the ranks.

U.S. military personnel will advise regional forces working to target Kony and other senior leaders. The president said the troops will not engage Kony's forces "unless necessary for self-defense."

The Lord's Resistance Army is sophisticated and less like the ragtag group of fighters it is sometimes portrayed as, Jane's says. It has benefited from the military experience of former Ugandan military officers and years of combat in Sudan.

International aid convoys and non-government organizations operating in the region have been threatened by the Lord's Resistance Army, according to numerous reports. Human Rights Watch, in a letter released in May, urged the U.S. government to step up its effort to protect people from the group.

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Filed under: Africa • Democratic Republic of Congo • South Sudan • Uganda • World
soundoff (291 Responses)
  1. Raimo Kangasniemi

    There should be a mention in the article that the LRA wants to establish a Christian theocracy (mixed with animism) that is based on the Ten Commandments, that it also operates in NE Congo DR and SE Central African Republic, and that many of it's fighters have themselves been kidnapped as children by LRA.

    October 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • SassyKwatch

      I would suggest watching the new film 'Machine Gun Preacher'. It just came out and stars Gerard Butler. It's the true story Rev. Sam Childers. He has spent the last 20 years fighting the LRA and defending the orphans of Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan against these vicious thugs...

      October 15, 2011 at 4:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I the word "Lord" a reference to a religious being or to a member of the Peerage?

    October 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thom

      Joey, you are correct. It is a religious military group who's leader proclaims himself as the spokesperson of GOd, primarily the Holy Spirit. The group, appears to be bent on ensuring that the 10 commandment are viewed as the edict that others should live by. They have twisted religion to work on behalf of their cause. Much like those in the days of early Christendom, even as far as the Salem Witch Trials (based on wanting land etc ... but religion was used to further agendas).

      October 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Is the word "Lord" a reference to a religious being or to a member of the Peerage?

    October 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OWS

    Almost sounds like the definition of the TEA PARTY RADICALS – "...The Lord's Resistance Army, formed in the late 1980s, is a sectarian military and religious group that operates in northern Uganda and South Sudan. It has committed numerous abuses and atrocities such as abducting, raping, maiming and killing civilians, including women and children, according to globalsecurity.org. Its members are known for hacking off the lips and ears of their victims, looting villages and burning huts, and stealing clothes and medicine from the communities they terrorize..."

    October 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy Ruckner

      Not too far from the truth, I fear.....

      October 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I know: my question crossed its previously submitted answer in the mail.

    October 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeremy Ruckner

    I saw a program on this last night. This is a heinous group of people commiting the most heinous acts imaginable. To affiliate themselves with religion is par for the course, however, as most extremely brutal groups such as these often do.

    October 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mab

    So here is Obama lauching another war without any national interest. More money to waste. Africa has always been in Europe's sphere of influence. Get our soldiers out of there now.

    October 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • musomesa

      There is more to it than you seem to see. We help them get rid of their nuisance and those same countries commit troops to the effort in Somalia to thwart our baddies (Al Qaeda + Pirates). It isn't charity.

      October 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • OWS

      @mab – Oh, and I suppose former President George W. Bush's waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were justified and the TRILLIONS UPON TRILLIONS of dollars spent were all worthwhile, huh?? Sure, blame all the spending on us left-wingers without looking at yourselves in the mirror first...That's what I absolutely loathe about the extreme right-wing radical Tea Party & GOP morons !!!!

      October 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just

      A 'waste' is the HUGE military expense, loss of lives and prestige of Bush's war in Iraq. Now 100 troops to hunt this animals is training day for our boys. And it will save lives as opposed to killing hundreds of thousands of muslins. So please, drop the hypocrisy or get the facts. Either way, Obama is writing the book on how to conduct effective foreign relations, at an increasingly difficult time, thanks to that idiot who almost destroyed our country.

      October 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    @Jeremy Ruckner:
    I must have seen the same program as you. Really nasty, cruel men.
    They are absolutely something to be feared, and they need to be stopped.

    October 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ron

    Didn't this guy win the Nobel Peace Prize? How many wars is he going to start in order to prove how peaceful he is? I thought Bush was bad...

    October 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • musomesa

      Hard to start a war that has been going on for more than 10 years.

      October 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Presbylutheran

    The Lord's Resistance Army? Is that headed up General Anita Perry?

    October 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Edward

    Yes, we are the world's policemen. We have money to waste and bodies to bleed. No wonder this country and the political/economic scene in such a messed up place. Who's on first? Who's on second?

    October 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. guest

    It is a religiouse sectarian army. why doesnt the article state what religion??

    October 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • swagger

      Well if it was a muslim group, they would be called terrorists but since their religion is a mix of christianity among other things there cant be any mention because christians dont do such things...

      October 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thom

      I read somewhere that it was apocalyptic Protestant Christianity. The religious breakdown for Uganda is reported as: 84% Christians, which is made up of Roman Catholic and Anglican Church of Uganda. Evangelical and Pentecostal religions make up the rest of the Christian community. There is a smaller population of Muslims and a smaller population of indigenous beliefs. But, the LRA touts the Ten Commandments as their guide. Not necessarily tied to the LRA, but many American churches have been involved in the churches over in Uganda, of which previously has prompted Uganda's vilification of gays and lead to the killing and brutal murders of those individuals based on religious beliefs.

      October 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brady

      The leader, Joseph Kony, claims to have a direct connection to God. In the 80's, his aim was to overthrow the Ugandan government and rule the nation with the Ten Commandments. When the overthrow didn't work, he ended up slaughtering his own people, the Acholi tribe from the northern part of Uganda. He would burn down villages and capture children, forcing them to be members of his army. Often, he would make them kill their own families before heading back into the jungle with him. He is a monster. There is nothing biblical or holy about this guy.
      This video gives the best breakdown of the LRA I've ever seen: http://vimeo.com/28628155

      October 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • mb2010a

      Christian...no particular religion affiliation. This is what happens when you send a bunch of religious nuts (missionaries) to Africa. It's similar to the preacher that went to Africa and told them that gays are bad and several thousand people died as a result. You reap what you sow...

      October 15, 2011 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    I don't know if any of you have every heard of the LRA, but did you miss the part where they are committing hideous crimes against humanity, women and children in particular?
    I would *much* rather have our troops stamping out this kind of behavior than just resting on our laurels...
    With that mindset, we shouldn't have helped stop the brutality that was WWII either, right?
    Oh, that's right.
    We almost didn't...

    Whatever.
    I am proud of our POTUS right now to have arrived at this decision, despite the nasty political atmosphere right now.
    WTGobama!

    October 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thom

      banasy, I agree with you. We need to be stamping them out, but we also need to be concerned with the government there where the nuts aren't far off from the LRA. And yes you are correct that it is "their own religion based on many of the tenets of Christianity", but their actually tout the bible and believe they speak on behalf of God and the Holy Spirit. Sounds like some of our own politicians, so who is nuts?

      October 14, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy©

    @guest:
    It is their own religion based on many of the tenents of Christianity and native religious practices.

    Rather like the Haitian Voodoo.

    October 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sftommy

    I expected a story about US Domestic political hard-liners...

    October 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
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