US had secret role in attack on Lord’s Resistance Army
February 11, 2009 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
After its clandestine involvement in central Africa, in the late 1990s, and in Somalia, in 2006, the US is now actively assisting military and security operations in the Congo and Uganda. In an article published on February 7, The New York Times revealed that the US Pentagon assisted in the planning of an attack by Ugandan government forces on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a notorious Ugandan Christian terrorist group. The attack on the LRA took place inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly known as Zaire), where LRA militants have been hiding in one of the many Congolese national parks. The New York Times article reveals that, back in November of 2008, the Ugandan government contacted officials at the US Embassy in Kampala, requesting help in launching a large-scale attack on the LRA. The request was promptly communicated to Washington, where George W. Bush “personally authorized” Pentagon assistance in the operation. President Bush’s authorization led to the first-ever collaboration between the US and Ugandan armies in a military offensive. Although Pentagon officials claim that “[n]o American forces ever got involved in the ground”, they disclosed that the DoD’s Africa Command dispatched 17 “advisers and analysts” to Kampala, who worked “closely with Ugandan officers on the mission”. Moreover, the Pentagon is said to have provided Ugandan forces with satellite communications, intelligence data and “$1 million in fuel”. The military operation failed, however, as LRA forces, under the leadership of their commander, Joseph Kony, managed to successfully break into small groups and move independently toward the interior of the DRC, killing nearly 1,000 civilians in the process. Human rights groups and Congolese communities affected by LRA’s escape into the jungle have blamed the Ugandan troops for “essentially swatting a hornet’s nest” and for leaving them exposed to the rebels’ murderous wrath. The New York Times article quotes Uganda-based human rights researcher Julia Spiegel, who describes the military operation as “poorly planned and poorly executed”. The paper cites anonymous “American officials” who “conceded that the operation did not go as well as intended”. Interestingly, the Ugandan military has refused to comment on any American assistance in the operation.