State Department lauds SA's rescue actions

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • AFOSI Public Affairs

On April 2, 2019, Kimberly Sue Endicott, two Canadian citizens and their Uganda tour guide/driver John Paul were kidnapped from Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) while on safari along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The two Canadian citizens were released, but Endicott and Paul were forcibly taken into the DRC and held for six days.

Five months before the kidnapping, Air Force Office of Special Investigations Force Protection Detachment Uganda identified QENP as a high-threat area in Uganda in the FPD’s country-wide threat assessment and immediately set up an extensive source network throughout the area, obtained geo-coordinates of landing sites, and familiarized themselves with the wildlife, roads, border crossings and patterns throughout QENP.

When the kidnapping occurred, AFOSI FPD Uganda leveraged those established relationships to unite Ugandan Police, Military, Special Operations Forces (SOF), Intelligence and Wildlife authorities/assets to locate and rescue Endicott and Paul out of the DRC.

On Dec. 12, 2019, the U.S. State Department recognized AFOSI FPD Uganda Special Agent In Charge Keith Ide with its second-highest award, the Meritorious Honor Award, for his role in the kidnap for ransom response and successful rescue.

The award read: “Keith R. Ide…For your outstanding support in the organization and consolidation of Ugandan intelligence assets throughout a five-day hostage crisis in Uganda’s Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park.” Signed: Ambassador Deborah R. Malac, Kampala, Uganda, December 2019.      

“The FPD Program worked as it was designed, to identify and neutralize threats which we not only did at the front end, but were a critical piece in bringing everyone home, safe. In this manner our participation was a win,” SA Ide said.

SA Ide and U.S. Embassy RSO Michael Cygrymus responded by helicopter from the U.S. Embassy in Kampala to QENP with only the clothes they were wearing, two cell phones and a few weapons to lead the resulting, five-day, joint U.S.-Ugandan rescue operation on the Uganda/DRC border.

SA Ide set up an operational Command & Control node, a joint intelligence center (mud hut) to vet, de-conflict and analyze intelligence, direct investigative leads and intelligence assets. Within two days, SA Ide and Ugandan authorities identified and validated the exact location where Endicott and Paul were being held through triangulation of the kidnapper’s cell phone calls/pings and call analysis in both Uganda and the DRC.

Due to his extensive knowledge of the area, SA Ide also directed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to support Ugandan SOF and rescue operations. SA Ide’s actions resulted in the successful rescue of both hostages out of the DRC and the rescue team of 20 Ugandan military and intelligence officials.

“That was some amazing work SA Ide and his team did,” wrote Col. Terrance M. Joyce, AFOSI Field Investigations Region 5 Commander, in sharing news of the event with AFOSI Public Affairs.