Seattle man accused of helping fund massacre in Sudan

Did a refugee from Sudan living in Seattle help raise money here for a massacre there?

That seems to be what the New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman is saying about a man he identifies as Gai Bol Thong, a Seattle man who leads an organization known as Nuer Youth in North America, in his latest report on the increasingly deadly violent conflicts in South Sudan:

The trail of corpses begins about 300 yards from the corrugated metal gate of the United Nations compound and stretches for miles into the bush…. Eight thousand fighters just besieged this small town in the middle of a vast expanse, razing huts, burning granaries, stealing tens of thousands of cows and methodically killing hundreds, possibly thousands, of men, women and children hiding in the bush.

The attack was presaged by a fund-raising drive for the Nuer militia in the United States — a troubling sign that behind the raiders toting Kalashnikovs and singing war songs was an active back office half a world away. Gai Bol Thong, a Nuer refugee in Seattle who helped write the militia’s statement, said he had led an effort to cobble together about $45,000 from South Sudanese living abroad for the warriors’ food and medicine.

“We mean what we say,” he said in an interview. “We kill everybody. We are tired of them.” (He later scaled back and said he meant they would kill Murle warriors, not civilians.)

GlobalPost has followed up on the NYTimes report, adding:

So a refugee in Seattle admits to fund-raising for a 6,000-strong army of young men with AK-47s who go on a rampage to steal cattle and kill hundreds of their tribal rivals in a bid to wipe them out while simultaneously destabilizing one of the US’s newest allies?

Mr. Gai Bol Thong might not find himself quite so welcome in the US after this admission.

Seattle NPR affiliate KUOW radio included an interview today with Bol Thong on Weekday. Here are some other earlier, related stories:

Upper Nile Times (from January 6) : Nuer Youth White Army plans massive attack

GlobalPost South Sudan: 3,000 dead in ethnic massacre 

South Sudan News Nuer White Army ends operations against Muerle Tribe

 

 

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.