INVESTIGATION: How Kagame, M7 Planned War Against ADF And FDLR
In September 2010, President Yoweri Museveni got intelligence briefing that Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels were seriously planning to attack Uganda through western Uganda.
Museveni swiftly directed then Special Forces Commander Lt. Col. Muhoozi Keinerugaba to deploy mechanized units at the border with Congo.
This was meant to put in place an iron shield as Museveni engaged his DRC counterpart Joseph Kabila, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and United States administration on how to deal with the rebel threat in Congo.
At the time, intelligence showed that several radical Sheiks in Kampala mosques were sending combatants through Mwanza in Tanzania and then River Semuliki to ADF training camps in Nadui, Erengeti, Congo.
What rattled Museveni’s generals was that the ADF had even managed to secure surface-to-air gunships to destroy any spy copters hovering over their hideouts.
Uganda’s military intelligence found that ADF had over 3,000 battle-hardened fighters, mostly of Muslim faith.
They also discovered that ADF’s spiritual leader Jamil Mukulu had on several occasions visited his men on the ground and more fighters were joining the outfit that seeks to establish a Muslim state in Uganda.
In a bid to secure more information, as usual, Uganda sent experienced military spies to infiltrate ADF camps.
Uganda army discovered that the group intended to raise 20,000 fighters who would undergo massive training by Pakistan and Al Shabaab instructors in several parts of the world before converging in Congo to wage war on Uganda and the capture Kampala.
“That’s why ADF tried to establish links with Al Shabaab – to gain access to resources form terrorism funders and training facilities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East,” said a military source that preferred anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.
Actually, the rebels had set to attack Uganda shortly after 2011 elections but massive swoops on ADF cells in Kampala, eastern Uganda made the rebels’ plans unsuccessful.
“At one time, we raided an ADF cell in Congo and got a list of all names of the rebels’ collaborators, residences, financial transactions and contacts in Uganda. So it was easy to monitor and arrest them in a well coordinated operation,” a high ranking military source told this reporter during an interview on the shores of Lake Victoria early this week.
“Realizing that we had smoked out their collaborators, the ADF tried to attack in April this year and had finalized drills. They were waiting for a green light from Mukulu,” said the source.
Earlier in 2011, when Museveni realized the ADF were determined to attack, he looked around for an influential regional actor for support.
And this was Paul Kagame. It was by coincidence that the pair needed each other.
Kagame was facing the growing threat of FDLR.
Addressing a press conference in Kampala last year, Kagame admitted that exiled general Kayumba Nyamwasa and Col. Patrick Karegeya were maintaining links and forging alliances with FDLR and other rebel groups in Congo to destabilize his country.
Therefore, Museveni and Kagame were facing a threat on their hold on power.
Staring down on a possible break out of instability in the region, the two presidents decided to engage Joseph Kabila to allow their forces enter and flush out the rebels.
On his part, Kagame opened telephone conversations with Kabila.
In Uganda, Museveni started talks by dispatching his most trusted generals to Kinshasha to negotiate with Kabila and his generals on how to fights ADF in Congo.
Museveni at first dispatched Gen. Salim Saleh persuade Kabila to allow Uganda into DRC to hunt down the ADF.
Saleh’s point was that Uganda would use her own army and resources to eliminate the ADF threat and return to Kampala in an agreed timeframe.
At the same time, Museveni had skillfully instructed Aronda and Saleh to mobilize a force of 5,000 battle-tested combatants from several security organs including the Reserve Force, to undergo sophisticated training in a forest in Northern Uganda in preparation for the Congo rebel positions assault.
Saleh camped with his soldiers in the forest for one year.
During his trip, Saleh was not convinced that Kinshasha was determined to wipe out the ADF rebels.
Museveni later sent other Generals such as Brig. James Mugira of Military Intelligence and later Gen. Kale Kayihura in December last year to negotiate Uganda forces’ entry into ADF camps.
However, these talks led to the creation of a joint team of Congolese and Ugandan military intelligence operatives in eastern Congo to monitor the situation.
One of the officers attached to this unit was Maj. Muwonge, who was later transferred to the counter terrorism branch in Addis Ababa.
Each day that passed, a source said, Uganda and Rwanda got intelligence of the increasing number of ADF and FDLR insurgents and flow of weapons to their camps.
For how long would Uganda and Rwanda contain this?
The Congolese generals were promising to “investigate” the ADF before taking action.
Feeling frustrated and boiling with anger, Museveni in February sent army commander Gen. Aronda Nyakairima as the last man to Congo.
He was flanked by a team of military intelligence personnel who assured Congo that enough was enough and it was time for them to act.
Aronda also warned that he would not sit down and look on idly as ADF march towards the Uganda border.
Feeling immense pressure, Kabila authorized an operation codenamed “Operation Rwenzori” to attack ADF positions.
Amusingly, the operation flopped as DRC registered a huge number of casualties and lost heavy artillery to ADF.
Sources say Kabila and Museveni later talked on phone with the latter asking that UPDF war planes bomb ADF with an infantry “accomplishing the mission in a few days.”
However, the discussion was not bearing fruit.
Rwanda and Uganda then decided to strengthen their border security measures with Kayihura travelling to Rwanda where he met the country’s police chief Gasana.
Later, 2nd Division commander Brig. Patrick Kankiriho and his Rwanda counterpart Gen. Alexi Kagame, who is based at Ruhengeri, met in Rwanda.
This meeting was followed by Gasana’s trip to Uganda thus inspecting several border points with Congo.
At that time, intelligence showed that there was a plan not only to arrest but kill Ntaganda and that fugitive Col. Karegeya was in Congo to coordinate plans to attack Rwanda.
Ntaganda’s assassination would have plunged Congo, Rwanda and Uganda into a deep crisis.
Ntaganda’s CNDP had managed to create a buffer zone for Rwanda from FDLR.
“With Ntaganda dead, Rwanda would have no option but enter Congo to control the movement of FDLR rebels. This chaos would have been exploited by ADF to attack Uganda thus turning the region into smoldering rubble,” said the military source.
“Remember Uganda has invited several guests for the 50th Independence Anniversary including the Queen of England,” said a source, adding, “War in the region would hurt Uganda’s economy and shatter her tourism image.”
Ntaganda was alerted of the plot to kill him thus sparking a mutiny in Congo army where CNDP was integrated in 2009.
Kagame and Museveni decided to meet at State House in Entebbe to discuss the Congo crisis thus deploying heavily on all border points with Congo.
M23 then decided to attack Bunagana where they displaced 600 Congolese forces before descending on Rutshuru and other towns near Goma.
The rebels did not only show capacity to take Goma and even march to Kishasha because of Kabila’s failure to eliminate the FDLR and ADF threat but emphasized that the insurgents pose a threat to the Kinshasha establishment as well.
KABILA GETS POINT
Indeed, Kabila got this message.
No wonder, DRC, Rwanda and neighbouring states called on Thursday for the creation of an international military force to eliminate armed rebels in the DRC's turbulent east.
Their agreement, signed on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, proposes an internationally-backed military response to an offensive by rebels in the DRC's North Kivu province, a political and ethnic tinderbox.
The document was signed by the foreign ministers of nearly a dozen states of the Great Lakes region, including the DRC and Rwanda, and condemned recent advances by the Tutsi-led M23 rebel movement and a rebellion by predominantly Hutu fighters of the FDLR insurgent group in North and South Kivu.
It was not immediately clear in the text, to be presented to African heads of state at the Addis summit this weekend, where the troops would come from to establish the "neutral international force" that would take on the Congolese rebel groups.
Eastern Congo's enduring conflict, which has killed, maimed and displaced several million civilians over nearly two decades, has its roots in Tutsi-Hutu ethnic and political enmities dating back to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
In the document signed on Thursday, the states grouped in the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region proposed working with the AU and the United Nations to create "a neutral international force to eradicate M23, FDLR and all other negative forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo"
As we write this, Museveni is in Addis Ababa where the Congo issue will be discussed as well.
As soon as Museveni returns, said a source, Uganda and Rwanda will oil machine guns tune war planes to give ADF and FDLR the last blow.
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Updated on 2013-05-09 09:25
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