On Tuesday, August 23, the U.S. Treasury Department placed two additional commanders of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) under U.S. sanctions, Salim and Ali Kony who are also Kony's sons. This action will freeze the assets under U.S. jurisdiction of these individuals, making it much harder for regional government or army officials to conduct business with the LRA. As Enough has reported on in recent years, trading ivory for ammunition and other supplies has become the lifeline of the LRA to sustain its operations and atrocities. The sanctions also mean that those doing business in the illicit ivory trade involving the LRA should cease that activity or face significant penalties for sanctions violations.
“Today’s action, which targets the finances of the LRA and its leaders while also combatting their participation in the global illicit ivory trade, is the latest in a collaborative international effort to address the widespread violence in the Central African Republic.” – John E. Smith, OFAC Acting Director.
The Enough Project and our partner organizations The Resolve and Invisible Children have been reporting since 2011 about the importance of the LRA's ivory trade to its operations. Enough then was the first NGO to directly research Salim, Ali, and other LRA traders and commanders poaching and trafficking ivory in 2015. In an Enough Project report by Ledio Cakaj in October 2015, it was reported that,
"Under direct orders from Kony, LRA commanders, in particular his two oldest sons, Salim and Ali, barter the ivory with merchants from the South Darfur town of Songo, in exchange for food, uniforms, and ammunition. One LRA group is based in DRC’s Garamba National Park (GNP), where it poaches elephants and secures the ivory. Another group, led by a young man called Owila, then transports the ivory from northeastern DRC to Kafia Kingi through CAR. The tusks are likely trafficked to Nyala, South Darfur, and on to Khartoum for export abroad, primarily to Asia.”
The report gives significant more detail about Salim and Ali's ivory trafficking operations, as well as those by LRA commanders Aligatch and Owila. Since then, the US counter-LRA advisors have been much more proactive in assisting park rangers in anti-poaching efforts in Garamba National Park, to their credit.
These two commanders have been designated under Executive Order 13667 on the Central African Republic (CAR), which permits the U.S. government to sanction individuals for engaging in the targeting of civilians in CAR through the commission of acts of violence, abduction, and forced displacement. As the Treasury Department’s press release notes, “Salim and Ali have played critical roles in the LRA’s trafficking of ivory from Garamba National Park in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through the CAR to the disputed region of Kafia Kingi for sale or trade with local merchants. While Salim coordinates the transport of ivory, Ali is responsible for negotiating ivory prices and either selling the ivory for U.S. dollars or Sudanese pounds, or for trading the ivory for weapons, ammunition, and food with merchants in Kafia Kingi”
The Lord’s Resistance Army, a notoriously violent rebel group, continues to be a threat to the region. The Resolve and Invisible Children report that the LRA “remains a persistent, and even resurgent, threat to civilians, particularly in eastern Central African Republic (CAR). The group abducted 344 people there in the first six months of 2016, more than it has in the first six months of any year since 2010”
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is the agency within the Treasury Department that investigates, designates, and enforces sanctions programs, which use the blocking of assets and trade restrictions to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals.
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