Several hundreds of thousands of wanted outlaws are on the run from the law throughout the world today. Africa has its fair share of fugitives, who have a long history of committing serious crimes. Many of them are considered a menace to Africa and the world at large.
We compiled a list of the continent’s five most wanted criminals who are charged with committing acts of terror and war crimes in clear contravention of the Geneva Protocol, a treaty banning the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts. Each of the individuals on this list have managed to evade arrest or capture by law enforcement agencies.
Joseph Kony is a self-declared prophet and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is a pseudo-Christian cult and rebel group that has embarked on a campaign of violence in Uganda and parts of South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Part of its stated goals includes imposing Acholi Nationalism and ruling Uganda according to the Ten Commandments.
The LRA is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and in 2005 the ICC announced that arrest warrants had been issued for five of its members for crimes against humanity. The group and its leader have been accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, child-sex slavery, and forcing children to participate in hostilities. In 2015, the Guardian reported that Kony’s forces were responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people and the kidnapping of at least 60,000 children.
Samantha Lewthwaite is one of the most wanted fugitives in the world. Though of non-African ancestry, Samantha makes this list because most of her terror and other related criminal activities have centered around Africa. She’s allegedly a member of the Somali-based radical Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab and is believed to be the mastermind behind a number of grenade attacks on non-Muslim places of worship.
Authorities believe the 33-year old Lewthwaite orchestrated the 2012 attack on a bar in Mombasa, Kenya in 2012. She is also believed to be behind the September 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi. The Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Lewthwaite, who is also wanted in Kenya on charges of possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony.
Omar al-Bashir has been Sudan’s president since 1989, following a military coup that deposed Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. He was elected democratic president in 1993 and has ruled Sudan for the past 27 years. The 72-year-old has managed to remain in power as a despotic strong man ruler, despite his government’s tense relationship with Western nations.
In 2009, the ICC issued a warrant for his arrest, which was re-issued in 2010. He is wanted for his role in war crimes and crimes against humanity including rape, murder, torture, forcible transfer, extermination, and genocide during the Darfur crises between 2003 and 2005 that resulted in the deaths of at least 200,000 people and the displacement of 2.5 million others.
Felicien Kabuga is a multi-millionaire Rwandan business man who made his fortune from his interests in tea farms. Kabuga is from the Hutu ethnic group and is believed to have almost entirely bankrolled several Hutu extremist groups, including the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines and the Akazu, which are accused of carrying out the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In particular, he has been named as the man behind the importation of at least 500,000 machetes into Rwanda, just months before the massacre of nearly one million Tutsi’s and moderate Hutus.
In 1998 the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda indicted Kabuga for crimes including conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and extermination as a crime against humanity. In the years since the end of the Rwandan war, the 81-year-old has remained a fugitive with several sources claiming he is hiding in Kenya, DR Congo, and even Norway.
Abubakar Shekau is the de facto leader of the Boko Haram Islamist militant group that has waged a brutal war of terror in Nigeria’s north east region over the last seven years. He is one of the most wanted fugitives in Africa and across the world. In June 2012, the United States Department of State officially designated Shekau as a terrorist and placed a $7 million bounty for information leading to his capture through its Rewards for Justice program. In addition, the Nigerian army has offered approximately $300,000 for information leading to the arrest of Shekau.
Shekau assumed leadership of Boko Haram in 2009 after the death of Mohammed Yusuf, the group’s leader and spiritual head. Soon after, he launched a violent terror campaign targeting Christians, government authorities, and moderate Muslims. In 2014, Shekau claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of over 200 girls from the village of Chibok in north eastern Nigeria. Some of the girls have escaped or been released, but Boko Haram continues to leverage hundreds of others in negotiations with the Nigerian government. In 2015, Shekau pledged Boko Haram’s loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the terror group, Islamic State of Iraq Syria (ISIS).