About Rwanda’s security services

Author: Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

Now for me, the man I feel for is the pastor who lured his old friend into mortal danger. Remember  Mulele’s friend?

After the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in January 1961, Pierre Mulele and others went to China for military training. He returned from China to lead the Simba rebellion.

With Lumumba’s supporters and deserting soldiers, the Simba quickly ‘liberated’ large swathes of land in eastern Congo. But, with support from Belgium and the United States, the government army soon suppressed the rebellion. Pierre Mulele fled into exile in Congo-Brazzaville.

In his exile, a friend of Mulele convinced him to return to Congo. The friend claimed he had secured President Mobutu’s promise of amnesty. On returning in 1968, Mulele was imprisoned and tortured to death. In 1978, Mobutu is said to have ordered the death of Mulele’s mother (and son).


A Christian evangelist friend is said to have invited a Mr Paul Rusesabangina to Burundi for what Seventh Day Adventists call (prayer) ‘Effort’. Everything was smooth, complete with a private jet in the works. Mr Rusesabangina bought in. Setting off from Dubai, the private jet carrying Mr Rusesabangina ended up in Rwanda.

Now, Mr Rusesabangina had made public his displeasure with the way President Paul Kagame was running stuff in Rwanda. This alone made him an enemy of Rwanda. In addition to this public expression of displeasure, tracts promoting armed rebellion against Kagame’s government were attributed to Rusesabangina. That’s treason and terrorism.

Rusesabangina was an American celebrity of sorts. His actions during the Rwanda Genocide inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda.  In the movie, Hollywood (as an American social and cultural institution) created the Schindler of the Rwanda Genocide. The Rwandan government (or actually Kagame) was not warm to this Rwandan Schindler.

There is (was) only one Genocide hero: Paul Kagame and his Rwanda Patriotic Front (Inkotanyi). Even if Rusesabangina didn’t get ahead of himself by politically opposing Kagame, his hero status alone didn’t sit well with the Rwanda Patriotic Front narrative. Indeed stories were told (if only to dumpen his hero status) about how he sought money from those he protected.


Ugandans were all over themselves heaping praise and prize on the efficacy of Rwanda’s Intelligence services. Well, it was a successful mission. And as the main man (Kagame) said: it was smooth and seamless. I won’t take away the shine from the guys who executed the operation: Rusesabangina was bagged.

I am familiar with three similar ‘kidnap’ missions carried out by Uganda’s intelligence services. One was carried out by ESO. It was a failure because the subject died (on foreign soil) before he reached Uganda. The other two were carried out by military intelligence: one failed because the subject was killed by operatives (on foreign soil).

The other was successful. Subject was brought to Uganda and faced justice in a Ugandan court. And wonders never cease: someone in the hierarchy was stupid enough to list me as a witness in the treason case slapped on the man who had been kidnapped from a foreign country. I fled.

The goodness of the intelligence community depends on the political leadership; which is responsible for policy and resource allocation (finance, material and human). On policy, the political leadership should be sober enough to consider the diplomatic fallout from the actions of the intelligence services (particularly on foreign soil).

How do you think Kigali is feeling after the release of Rusesabangina given the way President Kagame abetaka tolo (Lingala: chest thumping)? Where has the Rusesabangina case left USA-Rwanda relationship?

Now for me, the man I feel for is the pastor who lured his old friend into mortal danger. Remember  Mulele’s friend? Stuff like that…

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]