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The UN chaps were investigating rebel activities in Congo. They therefore paid a visit to Kampala for latest intelligence on rebels camped in the volatile neighbouring country.
They held meetings with then military intelligence boss Brig. James Mugira, his deputy Col. Dominic and Counter Intelligence boss Maj. Muwonge.
Muwonge had just returned from Congo and Central African Republic where he was commanding joint intelligence operations against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Muwonge had replaced Col. Isoke who was dispatched to lead espionage activities in Somalia.
You will recall that on January 25, Col. Isoke had paraded Annet Namwanga, a nurse at Mulago Referral Hospital for facilitating rebel activities with his husband Lawrence Kiwanuka who leads the Diaspora-based Uganda People’s Federation Alliance.
Isoke said Namwanga was involved in a plan to bomb the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence facility in Kitante (now shifted to Mbuya).
During the meeting with UN Experts, Mugira said ADF had started drills in the Beni territory of North Kivu Province with the objective of overthrowing Museveni to install a Muslim president.
Mugira presented two ADF officers who deserted early in 2011 to brief UN officials.
They spoke of ADF planning to establish the Rwenzururu Kingdom in the name of the Supreme Chief of both the Banande (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Bakonjo (Uganda) tribes, which live near Mount Rwenzori and speak the same language.
They confirmed that despite lacking a traditional military ranking system, ADF’s Supreme Leader Jamil Mukulu was responsible for the strategic and ideological direction of the rebel group as well as for overseeing extensive financial support networks.
They also named the ADF operational commander on the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as David Lukwago who is supported by intelligence chief Benjamin Kisonkonye. The highest-ranking Congolese commander is named Braida.
It also emerged that Chuchubo had replaced Nadui as the site of the new headquarters of ADF in Beni territory while Mwalika, south of the main road from Beni to Kasindi, remained the location of the principal training centre although some training is now conducted at Nadui.
Mugira further noted security had thwarted a plan to bomb State House, Entebbe and other key installations in Kampala by militaristic elements of opposition.
He talked of fallen rebel Col. Edison Muzoora who had opened three axes in the Central, Northern and Eastern regions to overthrow government but passed away before securing guns.
Mugira also unveiled ADF’s recruitment strategies showing the rebel unit had a force of 1,000 combatants.
The CMI boss further stated the troubles faced by UPDF in combating regional terrorism, giving examples of the dense forests of Congo and Kinshasha’s inability to clear the area of rebels.
Other military chiefs in the meeting said ADF was taking advantage of the regimentation process thus becoming increasingly mobile and at times changing positions during the course of 2011 and even seeking to make inroads in Ituri.
No wonder last December ADF regained control over territory that it had previously lost to FARDC. The movement continues to receive income from money transfers, taxation on small gold mines and timber production, and has recruited members from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania, and from among Somali refugees within Kenya.
By the time the meeting was completed, UN investigators had been fully convinced that Congo was a boiling pot.
At that time, there were stepped up diplomatic efforts between Kigali and Kampala mainly to coordinate joint operations against Uganda and Rwanda rebels hiding in Congo.
President Yoweri Museveni arrived in Kigali on 29 July 2011 for a four-day State visit to Rwanda.
President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, agreed to enhance the relationship between the two countries, exchange visits and fast-track regional integration.
They also agreed to have covert joint teams to flush out rebels from Congo.
Subsequently, on 1 August, President Museveni departed for South Africa to engage in talks with President Jacob Zuma.
Earlier, UPDF had defeated a post-election violence after securing an overwhelming victory in the presidential and parliamentary elections in February 2011.
Subsequent “walk-to-work” protests over high prices led to arrests of opposition leaders and police violence. Opposition chiefs hoped this would make Uganda ungovernable, thus causing government breakdown.
The opposition, intelligence reports indicate, intended to use Col. Muzoora to exploit the fragile situation at the time to mobilise former rebels living in Uganda to start a rebellion in Kampala.
Muzoora and his rebels hoped to win public support considering the economic upheavals that had rocked the country.
The Ugandan shilling fell to all-time lows in July 2011, notably after the Governor of the central bank had criticized President Museveni for failing to replenish reserves after using central bank funds in the amount of $720 million to finance the purchase of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets. The amount corresponds to at least six aircraft, although no official number was provided.
On 14 July 2011, the Ministers of Defence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda met to follow up on their meeting of 17 March 2011, in Kasese, Uganda, to discuss the operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The ministers agreed there was urgent need to end the impunity in Congo for the stability of the region.
Why ADF is M7’s Main Threat
As we write this, ADF is estimated to have approximately 1,000 combatants and more recruitment has been ongoing. By June 2011, ADF had recruited more than 200 new combatants in Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania.
Ex-combatants and UPDF sources indicate that ADF has significant clandestine support in Uganda that facilitates recruitment.
In June last year, CMI arrested four ADF recruits from eastern Uganda, where there is more fertile ground among the Muslim population, historically sympathetic to the Ugandan political opposition.
These combatants recounted having been brought by couriers across the border to training camps to join more than 70 other new recruits.
ADF cells in Goma, North Kivu, have also facilitated the travel of new recruits. The Semliki River is a principal conduit for new recruits. There was a time when three fishermen were abducted along the river in July 2011 and had been forced to work on boats for ADF before being released.
Western intelligence indicates sporadic ADF efforts to recruit in Burundi. This information was provided by a Burundian child soldier who had been recruited from Bujumbura by a Ugandan Imam who had recently arrived to send Muslim young people to Congo to join the rebels.
Burundian intelligence officers say on July 9 2011, they arrested three men recruiting for ADF in the city of Rumonge, Bururi Province.
UPDF sources say ADF is also recruiting in Tanzania, as one former combatant who had turned himself claimed to be a Tanzanian citizen. ADF has as well been targeting Somali refugees and some trucks carrying recruits had been spotted late last year in Erengeti.
According to ex-combatants, during initial training at the Mwalika camp that is often conducted by a Ugandan Muslim commander named Amir, ADF fighters are taught courses on the basic handling of weapons and on English, Arabic and Swahili for four months.
Aaerial reconnaissance missions conducted early in 2011 and June 2011, observed that Mwalika had been divided into a number of smaller camps.
While previously ADF forced all of its recruits to convert to Islam, it no longer obliges Christian recruits to study the Qur’an. Quoting ex-combatants security sources say, however, Christian commanders are rarely promoted. Furthermore, ADF has female combatants, as FARDC officers have witnessed in recent battles.
ADF has had foreign trainers in the past. Congolese intelligence agents near Mutwanga have since reported about foreigners near Nzelube who were accompanying an ADF unit. FARDC had also sighted foreign instructors in the general area of Kamango, only 15 km from the Ugandan border.
This is the place where an air supply of weapons and food was dropped on February 13 thus sending shockwaves across Uganda.
PLAN TO ATTACK
It is important to note that ADF recently received bomb-making training from the Somali rebel group, Al-Shabaab which collaborated in the heinous July 11 2010 bomb attacks.
And in what security believed were the last rehearsals to attack Uganda, the rebels have implemented an aggressive strategy, pre-empting any subsequent operations with attacks on FARDC positions, through which they have regained control over all of their previously lost camps, including Nadui.
DF has fought hard to control its old positions owing to the important arms caches that it maintains in each of them.
Prior to the start of a fourth phase of operations scheduled for 30 April 2011, according to FARDC officers, ADF ambushed FARDC at Makayova, killing three army soldiers and injuring 21.
When word of another round of potential operations reached ADF, the rebels attacked FARDC positions east of Erengeti on 1 July at Chuchubo and Makembi, where they killed nine FARDC soldiers, according to intelligence officers.
ADF again attacked FARDC on 29 July at Bilimani and recovered large amounts of ammunition. FARDC was able to regain control over these villages only on 3 August, after three failed counteroffensives.
In addition to pre-empting operations, ADF had begun to assassinate individuals whom it believes to be collaborating with FARDC.
According to local leaders in Erengeti, on 30 July six members of a family were killed at Apatonga village for this reason. The local population of Beni territory is largely opposed to operations against ADF, following the failure and negative humanitarian consequences of the Rwenzori operations.
Furthermore, UPDF claims that business leaders working with ADF have also been outspoken against operations.
Moreover, popular support for ADF has increased since the deployment of ex-CNDP commander Colonel Eric Ruhorimbere as 81st sector Commander of FARDC in Beni.
According to local intelligence officers, the leaders of the ethnic Nande community have stated that the population must support ADF in order to counter the expansion of Hutus and Tutsis into Beni territory.
UPDF sources say the only way to defeat rebels in Congo is to allow a fresh invasion of Congo with latest equipment. They say Uganda, Rwanda and Congo near a well trained joint force to annihilate all rebels in Congo.