Museveni blames ADF attack on intelligence flaws

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President Museveni has said the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels have broken into very small groups that have become more difficult to detect as he called for alertness and strengthening of intelligence gathering.

In a national address about terrorism and crime yesterday, President Museveni described detecting the ADF rebels to finding a needle in a haystack, but he said the work of finding individual rebels is doable if there is alertness, good intelligence gathering and coordination between the security agencies and the members of the public.

“They can no longer operate in big groups or smaller groups. Now the only way they can operate is as individuals. And why they can’t operate in groups, it is because they know doing so is death. Because we can see you and deal with you. We have the capacity to deal with you. So now the way is to deal with individuals or small groups. Now that they can’t operate as a group, how do we deal with them? It is now a question of alertness. Number two, is intelligence and coordination between security agencies and the public. Those are the tasks we have. That is the challenge,” President Museveni said yesterday.

The address came nearly a month after suspected ADF rebels attacked a Lhubiriha Secondary School at Mpondwe, Kasese District, and killed over 43 people, 37 of them students.
The attacks have caused panic in the country fearing the resurgence of ADF rebel attacks that even security agencies in some districts in western Uganda started preventing late-night entertainment.

President Museveni said the ADF is no longer a military problem because of the UPDF, which has attacked them and weakened them, but they are now an intelligence and diplomatic problem.
“When the ADF attacked us in Mpondwe in 1996, they were trying to be like a military force.

 We quickly destroyed them. They ceased being an army now. So if they are no longer a military force where you can use the military [to attack them] as a solution, what do they become? They become an intelligence problem. It is now a problem of looking for a needle in a haystack as the English say,” he said.

He said they also need to involve diplomacy because the rebels aren’t in Uganda’s territory where Ugandan forces have authority.
He said through intelligence, they need to know where they are in the Democratic Republic of Congo and their plans.

He said the military and diplomatic problems to deal with the ADF have been resolved but they are now remaining with the issue of intelligence gathering.
“Because they are small numbers, the other eyes in the sky may not see these small numbers so we need another way of locating the small numbers. So we already have good capacity in this area,” he said. “Therefore, we need to finish some gaps in intelligence collection and that will be the end of ADF both in Congo and Uganda.”

He accused the security commanders at Kasese of putting their personnel on standdown because they didn’t expect any attacks since the area had been peaceful for a very long time.

The security commanders told him that they were caught off guard because they didn’t have enough personnel.
“That surprise, a kyekango. No, no. That byekwaso (excuse) should end. Always implement my order. Have a standby group 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but in squads. One squad is on standby while the others rest. I am talking about how to coordinate on anti-terrorism, but also on ordinary crime,” President Museveni said.

He directed the retired Director of Criminal Investigations Elizabeth Kuteeza, who is now a presidential advisor on police matters, to investigate the delay by the police to responding to the Mpondwe crime scene and report back to him three times.

He directed that each sub-county should have 18 police officers with motorcycles and a standby squad of four armed officers, who must respond quickly to an emergency.
He said if there is a real threat, they would recruit Local Defence personnel to join the police at the sub-county level.

“So those who panic. Like this Monitor newspaper that causes panic among the people. Yes, there is a problem because we are near Congo, which is perpetually harbouring those people. Unfortunately, there was a gap here and they used it,” he said.
Since 1996 when the ADF rebels attacked Uganda, the president has been issuing several strategies, which he said would defeat the group.

Uganda invaded then Zaire (now DRC) to weed out the ADF. Mr Museveni said the group has been eliminated. In early 2000s, the same group again attacked Kampala City with bombs prompting new security arrangements to defeat them.

Between 2009 and 2017, they allegedly killed Muslim sheikhs and other high-profile persons, including the police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi.
Mr Museveni directed strategic guidelines, like installation of CCTVs, breeding of sniffer dogs and establishing toll-free emergency numbers, to fight violent crime. Most of his directives were implemented but the attacks continued. In 2021 terror attacks were carried out in the middle of the central business district of Kampala City.

The government sought permission to enter Eastern DRC to fight ADF rebels with the promise that once the troops occupied their ungoverned zones the rebellion would be defeated. The Congolese leadership accepted.  Despite the occupation of the ungovernable zones in eastern DRC, the ADF rebels have continued to carry out attacks inside Uganda.

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