December 25, 2008: Christmas Day massacre in the DRC

On this day in December 2008 the Lord’s Resistance Army began a four-day massacre that killed nearly a 1,000.

HAUT-UELE DISTRICT, DRC – If a terrorist group that uses the Lord’s name commits a massacre on the Lord’s birthday is it also an act of blasphemy?

There are a lot of terrorist groups that have elected to name themselves after deities. I suppose, in a way, if you want to portray yourself as mighty, using the name of a god is about as mighty as you can go.

In India there is the Sri Ram Sena, named after Lord Ram. In the world of Christian violent extremism we have the Army of God. And amongst Islamist extremists there is no shortage of actors who invoke the name of Allah (Pakistan’s Jundallah is but one example).

Then we have the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The LRA has been around for a very long time, since the late 1980s. It has engaged in the abduction, killing, and mutilation of thousands of civilians across central Africa over the decades. It is led by former Catholic altar boy Joseph Kony who has created an aura of mysticism around himself and his followers who abide by strict rules and rituals.

Throughout its campaign of violence nothing even remotely approaches what it did over the Christmas season more than a decade ago.

On this day in 2008

The LRA launched a massacre of biblical scope, killing more than 865 civilians and abducting at least 160 children in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over four days. LRA combatants hacked their victims to death with machetes or axes or crushed their skulls with clubs and heavy sticks. In some of the places where they attacked, few were left alive.

The LRA were quick at killing. It did not take them very long and they said nothing while they were doing it. They killed all 26. I was horrified. I knew all these people. They were my family, my friends, my neighbors. When they finished I slipped away and went to my home, where I sat trembling all over.

Eye witness to the slaughter

All this started on December 25, Christmas Day, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, also known as the Lord, a man who was purportedly the son of God and a gentle soul. And an army which named itself after this same lord hacked to death almost a thousand civilians.

Does Mr. Kony not see a bit of irony in using Jesus’ name to justify this? I think there is a case to be made for blasphemy here. Don’t you?

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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