Canadian adventurer crowdfunding manhunt to find Joseph Kony

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CTV News | Jason Straziuso, Rodney Muhumuza, Richard Lardner, The Associated Press | November 5, 2013

Robert Young PeltonKAMPALA, Uganda -- Can you crowd-fund the hunt for a war criminal on the run deep in Africa's jungles? A Canadian adventurer with experiences in Afghanistan and Somalia wants to do just that: raise funds and take a small band of former soldiers to find Joseph Kony.

Robert Young Pelton, whose plan has already drawn criticism from a pair of Africa experts, is the latest to join a line of private individuals and aid groups who are trying to corner the alleged mass murderer and members of his Lord's Resistance Army. Kony remains elusive despite the deployment by President Barack Obama in late 2011 of 100 U.S. special forces to aid the hunt -- which is mostly carried out by Ugandan troops -- and the efforts by myriad private groups.

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Among those efforts:

  • Invisible Children, an American aid group, created a web video seen by more than 100 million people last year that made Kony a family dinner topic and "introduce new audiences to the conflict, and inspire global action."
  • The Bridgeway Foundation, a Houston-based charity, hired a private company two years ago that specializes in military and law enforcement training to teach child hostage rescue techniques to the Ugandan troops tracking Kony. With support from the deep-pocketed Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Bridgeway pays an aviation company to fly a Cessna Caravan airplane and a Bell helicopter that are used to extract LRA defectors, transport injured people and broadcast anti-Kony messages from loudspeakers.
  • Invisible Children and Resolve, another aid group, operate a website called the LRA Crisis Tracker that collects information on LRA attacks -- often radioed in by villagers -- in Central African Republic, Congo, South Sudan and Sudan. The site allows U.S. military officials or aid workers to see where the LRA is concentrating its attacks.

The U.S. State Department said non-governmental groups and foundations "have played a critical role in bringing the LRA's atrocities to the world's attention and continue to play an important role ... to end those atrocities."

But while the U.S. military's Africa Command and the State Department both said they "appreciate the passion and commitment of Americans and citizens around the world to help the communities terrorized by the LRA," neither would comment on Pelton's effort.

Pelton, the author of "The World's Most Dangerous Places," says he has done work for U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan, and that he excels at finding people who don't want to be found. If his plan is funded, he would start looking for Kony, who is likely in the Central African Republic, early next year, he said.

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