Uganda: Why ADF Is Targeting Uganda

18 November 2021

Uganda's intelligence and security agencies have cited three possible motivations for the back-to-back bomb attacks in Uganda that they blame on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a designated terror group.

Officials intimated that they are investigating leads that ADF intends to establish a caliphate run on Sharia law and another possibility that a foreign state is sponsoring the group to cause mayhem to sabotage Uganda's economy.

The Islamic State or ISIS in 2019 named ADF as its affiliate, baptising it as the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP).

And ISIS claimed responsibility for the Tuesday bomb blasts near Central Police Station (CPS) and on Parliament Avenue, both in Kampala, which has cumulatively killed seven.

Three of the dead in the Tuesday blasts, according to police, were suicide bombers.

There are also clues that ADF activated its terrorist cells in the country in order to avenge the killing of its agents by Ugandan security in the aftermath of the failed assassination of Works minister, Gen Katumba Wamala, in June.

The group, according to multiple sources, managed to quietly recruit children from Kyazanga and eastern Uganda and indoctrinate them in training camps in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

ADF is based in the mineral-rich North Kivu province and it has thrived due to lack of effective control by Kinshasa, according to experts familiar with regional security.

Most sources spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter while a number opted not to give away their identities because they are involved either in direct counter-operations or investigations into the attacks.

Investigators said there are leads that the ADF could be sponsored by foreign countries to sabotage Uganda's economy.

There is also another strong lead that they want to establish a caliphate in the region governed by Sharia law.

We have no independent confirmation of the clues.

In an interview yesterday, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said the joint security agencies are pursuing multiple leads.

"It is something that is being investigated that there are some countries that are sponsoring the ADF to do economic sabotage [in] Uganda. That is why it is only Uganda that is being attacked in this manner by these suicide bombers," said Mr Enanga.

Brig Flavia Byekwaso, the Defence and Miltary spokesperson, said their investigations show that the main motive of the ADF is establishing an Islamic caliphate in eastern Africa.

"After the ADF failed to depose the ruling [National Resistance Movement] government, they now have a motive to build a caliphate in the region that is governed by the Sharia law," she said yesterday.

ADF, a Ugandan-born rebel group, which has since morphed into a terrorist group, has carried out attacks in Uganda since the early 1990s.

Their major attack method in Kampala in the 1990s and early 2000s was hurling grenades in bars and entertainment hotspots while it staged raids on schools and in towns in western Uganda. Police named members of the same group as masterminds of the killing of more than a dozen Muslim sheikhs in Uganda since 2012.

ADF bases

ADF is more pronounced in the eastern DRC where it is accused of killing tens of thousands of people. President Museveni has severally said the lasting solution to the ADF menace is attacking its bases in the eastern DRC. Kampala and Kinshasa are in talks exploring the possibility of joint offensive, or authorisation for Uganda to unilaterally deploy, to flush out ADF and other militia groups in Congo.

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