A former Catholic altar boy from northern Uganda, Joseph Kony has waged war against the government of President Yoweri Museveni for almost two decades.
His Lord's Resistance Army movement has been demanding that Uganda be ruled according to the Biblical 10 Commandments.
Wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mr Kony has failed to sign a peace deal with Uganda's government, seeking assurances that he and his allies will not be prosecuted.
But after more than two years of delicate peace negotiations, regional governments appear to have lost patience with Mr Kony, mounting a new attack on LRA bases in eastern DR Congo.
Born in the early 1960s in Odek, a village east of Gulu, Mr Kony is remembered as an amiable boy.
"He played football and was a brilliant dancer," one of his former classmates said, recalling the rebel leader's days at Odek primary.
He is thought to be the cousin of Alice Lakwena, a former prostitute who formed the Holy Spirit Movement in 1986.
Ms Lakwena promised her followers immunity from the bullets of the Ugandan army, but Mr Museveni's troops defeated her movement in 1988 and she fled to Kenya.
After this defeat, Mr Kony founded his own rebel group which over the next 19 years went on to abduct thousands of children to become fighters or sex slaves.
Mr Kony himself is thought to have at least 60 wives, as he and his senior commanders take the pick of the girls they capture.
He sees himself as a spirit medium.
Young abductees, who have escaped from the LRA, say that Mr Kony would tell them he got his instructions from the Holy Spirit and would often preach in tongues.
"I will communicate with Museveni through the holy spirits and not through the telephone," he once said.
He has created an aura of fear and mysticism around himself and his rebels follow strict rules and rituals.
"When you go to fight you make the sign of the cross first. If you fail to do this, you will be killed," one young fighter who escaped from the LRA told Human Rights Watch.
"You must also take oil and draw a cross on your chest, your forehead, and each shoulder, and you must make a cross in oil on your gun. They say that the oil is the power of the Holy Spirit."
Mr Kony appears to believe that his role is to cleanse the Acholi people.
He uses biblical references to explain why it is necessary to kill his own people, since they have - in his view - failed to support his cause.
"If the Acholi don't support us, they must be finished," he told one abductee.