What you need to know:
ADF or by whatever name called is a happenstance present on the ground to serve the interests of whoever is ready to pay for their bidding.
A few extra checks at key installations and commercial establishments and the news of the two bombs that struck Parliamentary Avenue and Buganda Road at the entrance of Central Police Station will shift from page one, and top of the news bulletins to an afterthought.
Yet however mild the casualty count, the ADF story this year is a cause for alarm. First the disclosure of this threat came from the British government. The British are very active in the region but probably not to the extent of the Americans, Chinese and French especially in terms of the huge Congo. Second quite startling, the British were quite accurate in their forecast. One of the shortcomings of the terrorist alerts post 9-11 in many countries was disclosure, panic and non-events following. Third is where most of the questions arise. Was this human intelligence; humint; bespoken by informers or plants. Intelligence sometimes causes mayhem in the enemy by plants who are used to mitigate harm. In the history of Uganda, State intelligence dominated by certain communities have been at the centre of the survival of the State. Descendants of the General Service Unit in the 1960s and the State Research Bureau of the 1970s or even the National Security Agency NASA of the 1980s and its cousin the Special Branch are still alive and well. It goes without saying that the formal intelligence organisations today, ISO, ESO and CMI have been in some form of disarray since the run-up to the 2021 elections.
Human intelligence follows patterned behaviour. By some whim, these attacks occurred one year after Kampala and other urban centres were in a state of unrest and five score civilians lost their lives in riots as the presidential campaign- racheted up. The heads of ISO and ESO were replaced. One year later after he was replaced in October 2020, the former head of ISO Col Kaka Bagyenda claimed his enemies were after him trying to tie him to yet another basket of unsolved mysterious murders in Greater Masaka. Electronic intelligence on the other hand, while it also follows mechanical scores is prized for its accuracy. Electronic wiretaps sometimes are not necessary where imagery is present. Infact the lack of a detailed legal framework on how to process and use this lethal intelligence is a big problem. Curiously the entire scene of crime was positively identified by human intelligence but nothing has come out in the national press or from police spokespersons detailing who the alleged assassins were talking to by phone in the lead up to the bomb blasts. Even where Over the Top applications are favoured, this valuable strand of information is stranded.
The last major category of intelligence, general intelligence extrapolates news events, happenings to pin them to particular day time groups. In recent weeks, the global press continues to report on the geo-political scrambling for resources in the DRC. While gold and diamonds are still mentioned, the real tug of war is cobalt and molybdenum. These minerals as reported by both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are the mecca of tomorrow’s technology, precision technology, electric vehicle motors etc. Selective reporting on the DRC is also probably on leaked Foreign intelligence is reporting on how big of a haulage associates of the former regime siphoned through their bank accounts before power changed hands last year. Sunday, New York Times reports on this anguish. A big American mining giant Freeport-McMoran has sold two vastly rich cobalt mines to China Molybednum. The tone of the article is failure by the Americans to safeguard decades of billions in aid as a strategic investment.
This category is of course colored by the rapid rise of semi-autonomous partly ideological and partly economic interests in the Islamic State, ISIS. The association of ADF and ISIS is not difficult due to a common denominator but at the same time, intelligence tends to over-trivialise the rise of this non-state actor. The rise of ISIS is predicated on the fringes of failed nation states and raw plunder of natural resources. Battery elements of such groups are no different from the armed cells that have privatized conflict in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia or South Sudan.
So ADF or by whatever name called is a happenstance present on the ground to serve the interests of whoever is ready to pay for their bidding.
Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate. [email protected]