Hundreds Found Dead in Kenya, Allegedly Connected to Doomsday Cult

Hundreds Dead Kenya Cult

Ecclesiastes 5:8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still

Important Takeaways:

  • Authorities in Kenya have exhumed the bodies of over 400 people that are said to have died in connection with a doomsday cult.
  • Officials in the area told the Associated Press (AP) that they believe all of the victims to be followers of a doomsday cult in the coastal town of Malindi led by a local pastor, named Paul Mackenzie, who allegedly ordered them to fast to death in order to meet Jesus.
  • An additional 12 bodies were exhumed on Monday, July 17, bringing the total number of those who have died in connection to the Good News International Church to 403.
  • An additional 95 followers had been rescued, and detectives are still working to locate more mass graves as some 613 people have been reported missing to Kenya Red Cross officers in Malindi.
  • “He [Mackenzie] had an elaborate plan of killing children, youths and then adults, telling them he would be the last one to starve himself to death,”
  • Kenya’s president, William Ruto, said what transpired in Malindi was “akin to terrorism” and vowed to crack down on “those using religion to advance their heinous acts.”

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Filmmaker says New York sex cult was front for a ‘horrible evil’

Former self-help guru Keith Raniere (R) looks on during questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Penza (not shown) of a witness (victim whose likeness is not permitted to be sketched) in this courtroom sketch, at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in New York, U.S., May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

A secretive New York group that federal prosecutors say evolved into a sex cult tried to conceal a “horrible evil” behind a facade of self-improvement, a man who spent 12 years in the organization said Thursday at the group leader’s criminal trial.

The man, filmmaker Mark Vicente, is the second witness to testify against Keith Raniere. Raniere is on trial for crimes including sex trafficking for his role running the secretive upstate New York Nxivm group, where prosecutors said he forced women to have sex with him and in some cases branded his initials on them.

Vicente said he was like many of the group’s members when he joined it 2005, buying into Raniere’s pitch of himself as a genius who could help people turn their lives around. It took him 12 years to leave the group after he learned of the sexual practices and other abuse performed on members, he testified.

“It’s a well-intended veneer that covers a horrible evil,” an emotional Vicente said during the trial’s third day in federal court in Brooklyn.

Raniere, 58, has pleaded not guilty to charges including sex trafficking and child pornography. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say women were blackmailed into having sex with Raniere and branded with his initials as part of a secret society within Nxivm called DOS, an acronym for a Latin phrase that roughly means “master of the obedient female companions.”

Defense lawyer Marc Agnifilo has argued at the trial that members joined voluntarily and were never forced to do anything against their will.

Vicente said Nxivm President Nancy Salzman contacted him around 2005 after seeing a film he made about quantum physics and philosophy, saying she wanted to introduce him to Raniere.

That meeting led Vicente to begin his association with the group. He gave jurors a brief crash course on Nxivm, listing more than a dozen organizations and self-improvement programs under its umbrella that cost thousands of dollars.

A former Nxivm and DOS member who was only identified by her first name Sylvie on Wednesday told jurors she was recruited as a “slave” to another woman in the organization. Her “master” eventually ordered her to engage in sexual activity with Raniere, who also took nude photos of her, she said.

Sylvie said she felt she had to do what she was told, both because of years of psychological manipulation by Raniere and others, and because she had given her master compromising material that could be used to blackmail her.

Other individuals who say they were victims of the group are expected to testify. Five of Raniere’s co-defendants, including Salzman, Seagram liquor heiress Clare Bronfman and former “Smallville” television actress Allison Mack, have pleaded guilty to related crimes.

Nxivm, which started under another name in 1998 and is pronounced “Nexium,” was based in Albany, New York.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson; editing by Scott Malone, Jeffrey Benkoe and Jonathan Oatis)

Congo police kill at least four in dawn raid on separatist cult

FILE PHOTO: A resident holds up a Bundu dia Kongo manifesto left behind after a police crackdown on the religious and political movement in Matadi, capital of Democratic Republic of Congo's volatile Bas Congo province, March 18, 2008.REUTERS/Joe Bavier/File Photo

By Aaron Ross and Benoit Nyemba

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Congo police made a pre-dawn raid on a separatist group in Kinshasa on Tuesday, killing four people but failing to arrest their leader, a self-styled religious prophet, witnesses and group members said.

Dozens of armed police stormed the home of Ne Muanda Nsemi, leader of Bundu dia Kongo (BDK), a religious cult that seeks to revive the pre-colonial Kongo kingdom that flourished for centuries around the mouth of the Congo river.

Police have clashed with BDK members several times in the past few weeks in their western heartland of Kongo Central province, but the spread of violence to the capital, hundreds of kilometres (miles) away, is a serious escalation.

It also adds to wider tensions across Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down after his mandate expired in December, raising fears of a slide back into civil war.

“We are looking for (Muanda Nsemi). We are going to find him,” said Communications Minister Lambert Mende, without saying what he was accused of. He denied police had fired live ammunition.

Spokesman Pierre Mwanamputu said Muanda Nsemi’s supporters had participated in an “armed insurrectional movement” in Kinshasa on Monday.

Members of the BDK said the four fatalities were due to police preventing the wounded getting swift medical attention.

“There are four dead because they were not taken care of,” said Basangana Ndunga, president of BDK’s political wing. He said two other members had been killed in separate clashes in Kinshasa.

Residents think the raid may have been provoked by a video circulating on social media in which Muanda Nsemi appears to threaten Kabila.

However, it was unclear whether the BDK supporters in Kinshasa, who could be seen on the roofs of several buildings in their distinctive white robes and red head-dress, were armed.

Security forces killed more than 300 BDK members and bystanders in crackdowns on sometimes violent protests in 2007 and 2008, dumping their bodies in the Congo river or mass graves, rights groups say.

Separately, the United Nations said on Tuesday that soldiers targeting the Kamwina Nsapu militia group had killed at least 101 people between Feb. 9 and Feb. 13 in central Congo.

(Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)