Maputo — A man calling himself a "top counter-terrorism official" has told the Ugandan paper the "Daily Monitor" that the Ugandan rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) are moving their bases from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to northern Mozambique.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was clearly referring to the islamist insurgency in parts of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
The Cabo Delgado insurgents are referred to locally as "Al Shabaab", although they seem to have no connection with the Somali terrorist organisation of that name. The Ugandan official claimed the group's true name is Madinat Tawhid-wa-I-Muwahidin (MTM), and is allied to al-Qaeda, the international terrorist organisation founded by Osama bin Laden.
"We suspect that the MTM, which is also fighting the Mozambique government, is led by a Ugandan associated with ADF. There are efforts to ensure that they don't use Mozambique for training," the anonymous official said.
He added that cases have been mapped of some Ugandans undergoing training in northern Mozambique (presumably in Cabo Delgado) and returning to run ADF cells in Kampala.
The paper said that last year, six people supposedly linked to the ADF were arrested by the Mozambican defence and security forces after an attack on a terrorist camp in the Cabo Delgado District of Mocimboa da Praia. The six include the leader of the Usafi Mosque in Kampala, Abdul Rahman Faisal Nsamba, as well as a man named Mansour Kigozi and four others.
This is clearly the same attack mentioned by the Mozambican police in late January when three Ugandan citizens, two men and a woman, were presented to the press in the northern city of Nampula, suspected of being senior figures in the Cabo Delgado insurgency.
The provincial police spokesperson, Zacarias Nacuti, said the three had been captured in Mocimboa da Praia, and sent to Nampula where they were being interrogated. He said the information obtained from these prisoners "has allowed the defence and security forces to overrun some camps which the criminals used as bases for their incursions".
The leader of the three was named as Abdul Rahman Faisal - the same name mentioned in the "Daily Monitor" report. He and the other two prisoners were in possession of documents identifying them as Ugandan citizens.
Faisal told reporters he is an electrotechnical engineer, and a leader of Al Shabaab in Uganda. He denied coming to Mozambique to take part in any terrorist attacks.
"I am from Al Shabaab of Uganda", he said. "We came to Mozambique to look for Mansour and Abdul Aziz who was my subordinate". Abdul Aziz, he said, had been his subordinate in Uganda, but the last time he had seen him was in the DRC.
"We would like to help solve this situation, because in the end I'm part of the problem", added Faisal. "We would like to ask the others to stop making attacks".
The police do not believe this story. Nacuti said Faisal's statements were just an attempt to evade responsibility for his acts.
This Mansour is doubtless the same man as Mansour Kigozi who told investigators he had been ordered by his superiors to travel from the DRC to Mozambique to trace his colleagues who had left camps in the DRC without prior notice.
Richard Kabonero, Uganda's ambassador to Tanzania, cited in the "Daily Monitor", said he met Mozambican officials to discuss the extradition of the six suspects who are also wanted by the Ugandan authorities for offences ranging from terrorism to kidnapping.
"I met with Mozambican officials and we made a formal request for extradition of the suspects. However, the process is through Interpol and the regional Counter-Terrorism Centre in Nairobi is following up," Kabonero said.