By the Independent Team
Jamil Mukulu was probably 34-years old when he and others set up the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in 1995 to fight the Uganda government. Mukulu, who was initially a Catholic and critical of the Islam, became a hardliner when he converted after he was exposed to Tabliq Jamaat teachings. He is believed to have spent the early 1990s in Khartoum in Sudan, where he allegedly became close to al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and several other Islamists who had taken refuge there.
Various reports have alleged that Mukulu received extensive training in Sudan and also Afghanistan following his stay with Bin Laden in Sudan, although this cannot be confirmed.
From the start, it must have been clear that while they could attack and kill civilians, they were not in any position to overwhelm any section of the Uganda armed forces or overthrow the government of President Yoweri Museveni.
So their modus operandi immediately became terrorism. The ADF set up camp in a remote area which straddles the Uganda-DR Congo border on the Mount Rwenzori ranges in western Uganda. This area is claimed by the Batwa and Bakonjo. The ADF exploited their aspirations for a Rwenzuru kingdom that was apart from Uganda to establish an alliance with a fighting group called the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) founded by Amon Bazira, a former Minister in the Obote II government. He was killed in Kenya in 1993, two years before ADF came on the scene.
The ADF has been operating from bases across the eastern DR Congo, stretching through Oicha, Beni, Butembo, Goma, Bukavu and Uvira. It is believed to have networks in Uganda, Rwanda, and the UK.
According to Moshe Terdman, researcher in ADF and other Islamist movements, on April 18, 2003, a cache of files recovered from the bombed-out headquarters of Iraq’s intelligence agency showed that Saddam Hussein’s regime had links to an Islamist terror group in Africa – and had corresponded about opening a Baghdad training camp for the group. In one document written in English, a terror leader in Uganda vowed to attack the United States and its allies without rest.
Bekkah Abdul Nasser, self-described chief of diplomacy of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF) guerilla group, wrote to his Iraqi contacts that “we should deliberately drive panic into them, their bases, and their interests. We do this in Africa; you do this in the Middle East, the Gulf, and Asia”.
In 2001, over a period of several months, a high-level ADF member outlined his group’s progress to Fallah Hassan al-Rubdie, an Iraqi chargé d’affaires based in Nairobi, Kenya. Mukulu is believed by Ugandan intelligence to have maintained contacts with many ‘jihadist’ movements throughout Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Uganda claims Mukulu used these contacts to obtain financial contributions for ADF.
The UN noted that ADF survived on money and supplies provided by its local and international networks. Its recruits were Muslims, mostly from Uganda and DR Congo, who it convinced through direct appeals and by promising employment or scholarships to children.
ADF also earned money from allowing timber harvesting and gold mining in its area of control, and from money transfers, in particular from supporters abroad.
In 2014, the UN Group of Experts identified transfers of $15,000 from London to two ADF agents in eastern Congo. In total, the UN found that 18 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 which is divided into small portions to avoid detection.