“In 2009, Invisible Children was contacted by a member at the US Embassy in Kampala regarding Patrick Komakech, a former [Lord's Resistance Army] combatant who Invisible Children had been supporting in attempts to assist with his personal recovery and academic development, in keeping with Invisible Children’s mandate to provide assistance to individuals affected by LRA violence,” an Invisible Children spokesperson told Raw Story in an email.
“At the time, it was brought to our attention that Mr. Komakech and a group of others were allegedly involved in activities that could be jeopardizing the lives of civilians and putting the organization and its staff at risk,” the spokesperson added. “Invisible Children was deeply saddened to learn of these allegations; the organization was cooperative in providing information to the US Embassy regarding the nature of our relationship with and academic support to Mr. Komakech.
“In light of the severity of these allegations, the organization severed all ties immediately with Mr. Komakech,” they concluded. “In this case and as always, Invisible Children acts in good faith to preserve the integrity of our programming and uphold the protection of human rights in the communities we work.”
Rumors of their potential involvement in Uganda as an intelligence operation began to swirl over the weekend, after anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks published a U.S. State Department memo which claimed they helped Ugandan authorities capture Komakech in 2009, who just two years prior had come to the United States with a missionary he met in Uganda named Conrad Mandsager. Mandsager founded a group called Child Voice International, which works to rehabilitate child soldiers around the world. He brought Komakech to the U.S. for a bicycle ride across Iowa, sponsored by The Des Moines Register, to help spread the word of Joseph Kony’s evil deeds in Uganda as leader of the LRA.
Though Komakech said he had dreams of attending a U.S. university, he ultimately returned to Uganda and allegedly conspired to replace Kony as the principle opposition to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s regime. After his arrest, he and 10 others, including a journalist, were accused of treason over their alleged efforts to raise an army against Kony that would also fight the Ugandan government. A reformed child soldier himself, Komakech had previously been granted amnesty in Uganda, but that was revoked after he allegedly helped establish a training grounds for a rebel group called the Popular Patriotic Front.
“Invisible Children reported that Komakech had been in Nairobi and had recently reappeared in Gulu, where he was staying with the NGO,” the cable notes. “Security organizations jumped on the tip and immediately arrested Komakech on March 5.”
Just a month prior to those arrests, U.S. forces at AFRICOM provided more than $1 million in material support to a Ugandan government strike aimed at crippling the Lord’s Resistance Army, in a fantastically bungled operation that scattered Kony’s forces and sparked a wave of massacres that left over 900 civilians dead.
“Invisible Children is an independent non-governmental organization dedicated to the assistance of communities affected by LRA violence through development efforts; we do not conduct intelligence efforts of any kind for a foreign government,” the group insisted Tuesday.
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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