By Vision Reporter
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels have a wide network spreading across the East African region, a UN report has revealed.
The ADF rebels, according to the report, are closely working with Somalia’s al-Shabaab militia linked to the al-Qaeda terror network.
Al-Shabaab is a radical Islamist militant group that has been fighting against the UN and African Union-backed government of Somalia.
Uganda Police on Monday issued an alert saying it had received intelligence reports about the ADF’s plan to carry out terror attacks during the Christmas and New Year festivities in the country.
Chief of defence forces Gen. Aronda Nyakairima mid-last month said ADF rebels were re-organising and had a fighting force of about 600 fighters under arms. He said the ADF are currently occupying areas around Eringeti, about 90km from the Uganda-DR Congo border.
Aronda said the ADF top commanders include Jamil Mukulu, Hood Lukwago, Amis Kasadha, Musa Baluku, Mohamed Kayiira, Filipo Bogere, Jamil Muzzanganda, adding that the group was reportedly recruiting in Mayuge, Iganga, Bugiri, Hoima and Arua districts.
The November 2012 UN report corroborates the reports by the Ugandan intelligence about the presence of ADF rebels in the eastern DR Congo.
The report of the UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo highlights the activities of the armed groups in the eastern part of the country.
“During the year 2012, ADF has increased in strength to more than 1,300 combatants, of whom 800 are trained and well-equipped fighters,” the report says.
“The ADF military commander continues to be Hood Lukwago, while sanctioned individual Jamil Mukulu remains the supreme leader,” it adds.
The report says the Kenyan authorities believe that Mukulu is currently based in Tanzania.
“The Group has independently gathered several examples that support the assertions of the Government of Uganda that ADF collaborates with al-Shabaab in Somalia,” says the report.
“According to former combatants, ADF trained groups of young people in its camps for several months before sending them to Somalia to fight. The first of these groups departed the camps in November 2011,” the report said.
“After the arrest in Nairobi of the son of Mukulu, Bikumbi Hassan Mukulu, al-Shabaab agents Mustapha Kamau and Jacob Musyoka posted his bail in November 2011. Several Kenyan intelligence agencies confirmed that those individuals were members of al-Shabaab and supported Mukulu and his family when in Nairobi,” the report adds.
Quoting intelligence sources, the report said information received from Hassan Mukulu showed that “several businessmen linked to al-Shabaab resided in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi and worked with his father”.
“Kenyan intelligence agents told the Group that they possessed records of telephone conversations between Mukulu and al-Shabaab agents residing in Eastleigh,” it added.
“According to ex-combatants and Ugandan intelligence agents, ADF has strong support networks in the UK. Following their arrest on November 30, 2011, Congolese officials repatriated ADF political cadres Hoods Sempebwa and Habibi Kiwanuka to the UK.”
“The two (Sempebwa and Kiwanuka) play an important role in co-ordinating diaspora support networks. ADF also operates financial support cells at the port of Tanga in Tanzania and in Bujumbura, Kigali and Nairobi.”
“Couriers transport financial resources generated by those cells to ADF by crossing through the Kasindi border post from Uganda to the DR Congo. ADF also generates local revenue through several business arrangements in Beni.”
“The rebels profit from taxation on illegal timber production west of Erengeti and several gold mines near Bialose village along the Lesse River,” says the report quoting multiple sources.
“The extensive recruitment networks of ADF persist throughout Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania,” the report says, adding that ADF uses border town of Bwera as a transit centre for its recruits.
The report further says that some recruits travel through Goma and head northwards to Beni.
The report said there were intelligence reports that ADF had acquired anti-aircraft weapons in July 2012, fearing that the UN peacekeepers was planning air strikes against them.