A highly-spirited video featuring the rank and file of the Allied Democratic Forces in training provides a rare glimpse into the behaviour of its chief ideologue, Jamil Mukulu, and the strength of the rebel outfit.
In the video, the rebels vow to attack an enemy force and mock President Museveni's government. The ADF presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to define the level of security alertness in western Uganda. Col Felix Kulayigye, the army spokesperson, said he had not watched the video but confirmed that ADF are regrouping in the jungles of DRC.
"They are actually about 1,000 people being trained to attack Uganda. But we are keeping a close eye on them," Kulayigye said.
He said the United Nations' recent proposal to use drones to flush out the M23 rebels in DRC should also cover other insurgent groups like ADF and Lord's Resistance Army. The drones, Kulayigye emphasized, should only be used for intelligence gathering, not fighting. ADF attacked Uganda in 1996 and held the border town of Mpondwe for a couple of days before being beaten back. An insurgency that lasted several years ensued thereafter.
The Observer could not independently verify the exact location where the video was shot, though it is widely believed to be in North Kivu, DRC. A source told us the video has been reviewed by security agencies who believe it was filmed recently.
"It [video] was recovered at the home of one of the ADF leaders," the source said.
In the video, Mukulu is filmed arriving at one of the training camps where he is received by the rebel army commander, Hood Lukwago. Upon his arrival, tightly-guarded Mukulu, who sports an unkempt beard, is seen holding a walking stick and wearing gumboots. In another video clip, a calm and composed Mukulu greets his fighters, who include some children, in Arabic. The use of children in armed conflict is an international crime that may attract sanctions and trial in international courts.
The ADF rebel army commander, Lukwago, is heard sounding a clarion call for battle in the video that uses Kiswahili and Arabic. "Are you ready to work? We are going to fight our enemy, the enemy of Allah. Women, are you ready? Kadogos (child fighters) are you ready? Men, are you ready?"
The rebels, who include veiled women and children, some clutching AK-47 rifles, are heard responding: "Yes".
Lukwago then asks the camp training commander to show the preparedness of his force to the visiting boss, Mukulu. In the footage, the rebels sing the Uganda national anthem. Later on, they mock President Museveni and former minister Janat Mukwaya in liberation songs.
In one of their songs, the rebels sing: "ADF will move forward until the war ends. Museveni has failed to build the country, Janat Mukwaya has failed to build the country; the youth are prepared to build the country. It's Jamil, Baluku and Lukwago who can build the country." Musa Baluku is the ADF chief judge and chief political commissar.
The images show some soldiers dancing triumphantly while holding rocket propelled grenade launchers (RPGs). Part of the video also shows an elite unit of the ADF practising commando tactics while attacking "the enemy" in what appears to be a jungle. Uganda's military intelligence recently released what they believe to be the new command structure of ADF, showing the group's 19 top commanders. Jamil Mukulu remains at the helm, while Filipo Bogere Muzamil, who was given amnesty in 2000, heads special operations. Lukwago is the army commander and Amis Kasadha his deputy.
Muhammad Kayira is the head of combat operations while Benjamin Kisokolanio is the head of internal intelligence. The Chief of Defence Forces, General Aronda Nyakairima, was recently quoted in the press as saying that the ADF is recruiting fighters in parts of Iganga, Mayuge, Bugiri, Hoima and Arua districts. He added that the rebel outfit is reorganising and now has a fighting force of about 600.
He said the ADF are currently occupying areas around Eringeti, about 90km from the Uganda-DR Congo border. In November 2012, a UN report corroborated persistent reports by Ugandan intelligence about the presence of ADF in eastern Congo. The report of the UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo highlights the activities of the armed groups based in the volatile region.
"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.