How a Ugandan Rebel Group Uses Technology

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The Lord's Resistance Army has been fighting a violent guerrilla war in northern Uganda for more than 20 years. Today, the Enough Project, an anti-genocide and war crimes group supported by the Center for American Progress, released a detailed report on the current state of the LRA.

In the world outside the conflict, a lot has changed since 1987. Mobile communications and computing, for example, are now widespread all over the world. In a fascinating passage from the Enough Project's report, they describe exactly how the rebel group, which is under increasing pressure from the Ugandan military, uses electronics.

Despite being regarded as a rag tag band of illiterate fighters, LRA commanders have successfully used sophisticated communications technology in the past. Apart from the use
of maps and satellite phones, [leader Joseph] Kony and his commanders also use dual systems phones (using satellite and mobile phone coverage), GPS monitors which the LRA commanders use to navigate and arrive at prearranged meeting places, maps, and laptops.

The laptops and satellite phones were supplied to the LRA during the Juba Talks or were stolen later. The laptops, powered by solar panels, are mostly used to watch movies when groups camp for the night, LRA commanders continue to keep coded notes in notebooks. There have also been rumors that Kony has been using a Blackberry-like device. [emphasis added]

Via Chris Albon.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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