Here is a list of most things I have written on Okot ‘Odek’ George, the former LRA combatant who surrendered last week in CAR. Similar to Dominic Ongwen, Okot was abducted at a very young age and taken under the wing of a senior LRA commander, in Okot’s case, Kony. Both Kony and Okot come from Odek, Northern Uganda, which is why he is known as Okot ‘Odek,’ a fairly common identifier in the LRA. Many fighters are known by a first name and area of origin, like Okello ‘Palutaka’ (small area in Eastern Equatoria), Charles ‘Minakulu’ (little town south of Gulu) etc.
Unlike Ongwen, who was taken in by Vincent Otti, Okot became a close bodyguard to Kony as evidenced by various pictures of him standing guard near Kony during the Juba talks (I have many pictures but can’t put here because they are not mine. Any suggestions on how to use them appropriately would be great). In one picture Okot is seen holding a Galil (an Israeli made assault rifle similar to an AK47) likely taken by the LRA from the slain bodies of Guatemalan peacekeepers in DRC in January 2006. It is unclear if Okot was part of the LRA group that killed at least eight peacekeepers known as Kaibiles or whether he was given the gun (if indeed taken from the Kaibiles) by other fighters. More on this later.
Okot became a brigade commander (one of four) in 2008 and later commanded various groups but Kony kept him close including in the last two years when the LRA leader was based in Kafia Kingi. Odek was reported to have been Kony’s closest bodyguard as late of July 2015, as I write in my New Yorker piece (see last).
His defection is important because unlike Ongwen who had fallen out of favor with Kony for a long time before he came out, Odek was supposed to have been close to the LRA leader. It is likely Odek knows well Kony’s recent whereabouts and plans for the future. Odek’s defection will likely demoralize further remaining fighters and will leave Kony one serious fighter short in an ever decreasing group of veteran bodyguards.
Finally, all information here comes from interviews with former combatants and cannot and should not be used as ‘evidence.’
1) Does LRA Presence in Garamba Constitute A Real Threat to Uganda? Ledio Cakaj on Apr 27, 2010.
2) From LRA of Today, March 2010.
3) Too Far from Home – Feb 2011.
4) LRA Diagnostic – June 2011.
5) Loosening Kony’s Grip – July 2013.
6) Joseph Kony and Mutiny in the LRA – October 2015