KAMPALA- A new report reveals the transformation of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), its new command structure, funders and recruitment networks, which the UN experts have described as “well-organised and key to the rebels’ survival”.
The investigative report by the United Nations panel of experts on Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) released early this month, says it had found no credible evidence linking ADF to any international terror group such as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, either through funding or training, contrary to what has been often claimed.
The experts’ report shows ADF operational bases straddle eastern DR Congo, stretching through Oicha, Beni, Butembo, Goma, Bukavu and Uvira, and runs eastward through Uganda and Rwanda. Internationally, the ADF networks extend to the UK.
As of November 2014, these networks remained largely intact, according to the UN experts. ADF is led by Jamil Mukulu, who is on Interpol’s wanted list, and he is deputised by Sheikh Musa Baluku. The UN reports says ADF has since tactfully split into two groups; one under Mukulu and another under Baluku after Congolese forces raided their bases in May 2014.
The UN findings are part of compiled evidence obtained from interviews with former ADF combatants who either surrendered or were captured, and from data the rebels left behind when they were smoked out of their bases in eastern DR Congo.
Rebels’ source of funding
The report reveals that some Ugandans in United Kingdom send financial support to ADF through electronic money transfer systems.
The report also mentions a female UK citizen of Ugandan origin living in London, as one of the major senders of funds to ADF agents in Goma and Beni in eastern DRC.
According to the report, another 17 people sent funding in 21 electronic money transfers to Yusufu Shabani Majuto, a top ADF agent between June 2013 and June 2014.
The UN shows that London is the sending point for the money. The backers were sending less than $600 (about Shs 1.7m) to evade detection and capture of their records since money transfers of less than $600 in UK do not require the sender’s bio-data to be captured.
The report states that the ADF agents travel to Rwanda and Uganda where they get financial assistance from their local contacts.
The UN experts say although the ADF has weakened, it has not been defeated and could regroup and rebuild as it has always done whenever its commanders survive military offensives.
“Since ADF commanders are not typically involved in combat operations, most have survived the battles of 2014. In addition, ADF recruitment, support and finance networks have not been significantly affected,” the report reads in part.
The UN operations in DR Congo had decimated ADF strength from 2,000 personnel to around 200 by November 2014, the UN experts said.
They recommended to the UN Security Council to ask the governments of DR Congo, UK, Uganda and Rwanda to investigate ADF funders.
“…the Governments of the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and UK [should] investigate the individuals identified in this report who are involved in the financing, material support and recruitment networks of ADF, and take appropriate action to end support by those individuals to this sanctioned entity,” the UN experts recommended.
Mr Fred Opolot, the spokesman of Foreign Affairs ministry, who confirmed to have read the report, scoffed at it saying delinking ADF from foreign terrorist groups is a misrepresentation.
“I do trust the security of Uganda and they have an impeccable record. To contradict people who are on the ground is a misinterpretation. It isn’t true that ADF isn’t linked to foreign terrorists,” Mr Opolot said.
Mr Opolot, who doubted whether UN group were ever on ground, claimed the UN experts are working for certain countries in Europe who don’t want the war in DRC to end.
“Some of these international agencies make outrageous claims which they don’t bring out when we meet them. They have their own agenda,” he said.
How ADF recruits
The investigations show ADF is recruiting people from all the East African countries, DRC and UK. Despite last year’s DRC operations against the ADF, the rebel group is still recruiting new members.
The UN experts interviewed 10 people recruited in 2014. Of these, three were recruited in June, one in July and one in August.
Some voluntarily join ADF rebellion. The report names one Abbas Ssekamate, who left London with two or three of his sons and one daughter to join ADF. He underwent military training but is said to have been killed in combat in mid-2014. His daughter is now married to an ADF commander.
Interviews with most former ADF combatants reveal they were lured by their family members to join the rebellion.
“A second recruitment technique involves ADF members, including those in the group’s external network, appealing directly to individuals and families with no prior ties to ADF. A third approach involves the use of Muslim clerics to recruit individuals or families at mosques or Muslim schools,” the experts wrote.
Since 2013, the police have been spying on informal Islamic schools called Madrasas and have closed some, especially in districts of Kampala, Bugiri and Mayuge, on account that they were indoctrinating people into Islamic extremism.
The ADF commanders, according to the UN report, use different tactics in regard to DR Congo citizens. They either kidnap them after raids on their villages or use their agents to dupe them, promising well- paying jobs, only to end up in ADF camps under detention and forced conversion to Islam and drafted into military training.
In 2013, a suspected ADF recruitment agent was arrested at the western Uganda border of Bunagana while he was trafficking 12 Ugandans across to DR Congo after promising them jobs at a monthly salary of $3,000 (Shs7.5m).
The victims’ mobile phones were confiscated as soon as they approached the DRC border before Uganda security agents intercepted them.
New ADF command hierarchy
After the attack and dismantling of their bases in May last year, the Allied Democratic Forces rebels split into two groups, one led by Jamil Mukulu and another by Sheikh Musa Baluku.
The ADF has a top organ code-named Kanaana, a local Luganda reference to “8,000” and it was headed by Mukulu.
Mukulu left his main base Madina Camp and was last seen in April, 2014. He is said to have left with 30 people including three wives and sons before the DR Congo army raided his camp. He left most of the commanders under the leadership of his deputy Sheikh Baluku.
ADF command structure
1. Sheikh Musa Baluku: He assumed overall command of the ADF group operating in north east of Beni town in mid-April 2014. He is married to Jamil Mukulu’s stepdaughter, only identified as Stella.
2. Hood Lukwago: He is the ADF overall commander.
3. Elias Segujja alias Fezza: he is a senior ADF military commander.
4. Jamil Muzzanganda, alias, Armorer Man: He is in charge of ADF weaponry and was one of its primary bomb-makers during 2013-14.
5. Adam: He is an assistant to Muzzanganda and helps him to make improvised explosives and bombs.
6. Eria Fanta: He is Mukulu’s son. He was injured in combat in early 2014 and was left at Madina Camp when Mukulu left. He is in charge of wives and children of ADF commanders.
7. Nasser Mayor: He took over the role of chief of combat operations in early 2014 after the death of Philippo.
8. Sheikh Kabila Katende is a military commander and one of the high ranking Islamic leaders in ADF. He was the Imam at the Obedi Mosque in Madina Camp, which was Mukulu’s mosque where only members of the Kanaana group and their children would meet and worship. Katende is also a judge and director of the committee that handles marriage disputes.
9. Canada Kibuye: He is a military commander. He was previously the commander of Camp Canada, a.k.a. JNBG Camp.
10. Werason: Senior ADF commander. He was overall commander of ADF’s Ibrahim Battle Group (CIBG) base. Werason was also a military instructor at CIBG, where he trained men and boys under 18.
11. Rafiki aged 23. He is a commander and a lead military instructor at CIBG camp. He is a son of the rebel leader of the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) but when ADF and NALU split, Rafiki converted to Islam and became an ADF rebel.
12. Simba Amigo alias Mzee Amigo. He is a commander.
13. Rambo: He is ADF commander of Congolese nationality. ADF relies on him to navigate DRC’s impenetrable forests.
14. Toyo alias Toyota. Toyo is a commander who left the Baluku group with Amigo, but later returned. He trains recruits.
15. Maraba: He is an assistant CCO to Nasser under the overall command of Baluku.
16. Braida: He is a commander who, prior to leaving Madina, had also been in charge of getting food for ADF from the forests and nearby communities.
17. Dr Amisi Kasadha Kalume alias Muzamir Kirbaki: He is a deputy ADF army commander and a military instructor.
18. Kabode. He is in his early 40s and was involved in the first attack on Kamango on 13-14 July 2014 during which ADF looted the hospital and kidnapped four MSF staff.
19. Kasibante alias Defender: He is in charge of prisoners for the Baluku group.
20. Mobile: Left Madina Camp with Mukulu group but joined Baluku’s group sometime between May and June and remained there through October.
21. Recoilance: He is in charge of ADF’s internal security service.
He also taught Social Studies to boys in the Salaf Victory Primary School in Madina Camp.
22. Wasswa Sentongo: He is ADF’s police commissioner and is under Internal Security Service.
23. Sheikh Musa Nsambo: He is in charge of Islamic education for ADF. He is disabled from birth and walks using his hands.
24. Senga Mama Nasim, 40: She is in charge of all women in ADF including prisoners. She also arranges marriages between ADF men and women.
25. Mwanje: Deputy Chief of Finance for ADF. He works under Bisasso.
26. Dr Muhamad Luminsa, 54: He is a sheikh and medical doctor. He joined ADF in 1999. Dr Luminsa had been in charge of welfare, a store in Madina camp where people could get boots, jerrycans, and other non-food items.
27. Dr Guti: He is a key medical doctor for ADF.
28. Nuur Nanyonyo: A nurse and long term
ADF member. Her husband was an ADF soldier and died in 1999.