Uganda Terror Suspect Osama Bin Laden’s Personal Contact

Repatriation Wrangle  Unresolved.

Terrorism Suspect Jamil Mukulu. Photo Credit: K-VIS blog.

Terrorism Suspect Jamil Mukulu. Photo Credit: K-VIS blog.

Leader of the Ugandan terrorist group, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Jamil Mukulu was apparently a personal contact of the late head of Al Qaida, Usama bin Laden.

“Sheikh Jamil Mukulu, as reported earlier on Free Fire, was apparently a personal contact of Usama bin Laden, and the ADF received funding from sources connected to Al-Qaeda,” the website CentreforSecurityPolicy has reported. “Bin Laden seems to have viewed the ADF as an ideal candidate for building an Islamist network in Africa”.

“If Al Qaeda has maintained links with the ADF, then perhaps they were planning to build up the group along with Al Shabaab as a counterbalance to the Islamic State affiliated Boko Haram,” the website has reported. “Should Al Shabaab split from Al Qaeda and join up with Islamic State, Al Qaeda will find itself with very few notable allies in Africa”

Mukulu, arrested in Tanzania in April, 2015 is currently subject of a repatriation wrangle in a Tanzanian court  which started when Ugandan authorities filed repatriation papers demanding that the terror suspect be sent to Uganda to face numerous charges related to terrorism.

The terror suspect was captured by Tanzanian security officials after a regional manhunt lasting over a decade.  He allegedly used over ten passports and false identities to evade arrest until now, and he is said to have hid himself at different times in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya. Uganda has had an outstanding arrest warrant on Jamil Mukulu since 2002, the website reports.

The convert to Islam is accused of ordering a range of crimes, including a 1998 massacre in which scores of students were burned to death in their dormitories in a town near the Congo border. The Terror suspect appeared in a Tanzanian court for the first time on Friday May 15, 2015.

Mukulu re-appeared in the Dar es Salaam court on Friday, May 22, 2015 where he was asked to submit a counter-affidavit to the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court by Monday, May 25, 2015.  The Ugandan government, working through the Attorney General of Tanzania, submitted the application requesting to extradite the terror suspect back to Uganda to face charges of rebellion and aggravated acts of terrorism.

The private advocate Martin Rwehumbiza appeared before the court to represent Mukulu. The Tanzania Guardian newspaper which was present in court said the defense failed to submit the affidavit on Friday because the advocate did not get permission from the Commissioner of Prisons on Wednesday to interview the client.  After receiving permission from the commissioner he conducted an interview with Mukulu and now they are preparing the counter-affidavit against an application submitted by the Uganda government. The counter affidavit will be presented to the court on Monday, May 25, 2015 before 11am.

Principal Resident Magistrate Mkeha and prosecution lawyers, Principal State Attorney Edwin Kakolaki, Senior State Attorney Prosper Mwangamila and Senior State Attorney Hamidu Mwanga agreed with the request and the case was postponed.

The Uganda government submitted their application through the Attorney General’s Chambers requesting an extradition of Mukulu to his country where they want him to respond to charges at the Jinja Resident Magistrate’s Court. The application was presented under certificate of urgency by Senior State Attorney Ephery Sedekia.

The Principal State Attorney said the application was attached to an indictment and affidavit of the Ugandan Senior Superintendent of Police, Oludu Francis. It was submitted together with the Uganda criminal procedure code and a copy of the passport with Mukulu’s picture bearing the name Thomas Rwanga Msisi.  On Friday, May 22, 2015, Mukulu was sent back to remand prison to wait for the date of hearing of the application on Monday as the charges he faces do not have bail under Tanzanian law.

A detailed profile describing the suspected Al Qaeda terrorist was in the meantime published in Uganda with anecdotal excitement:

Jamil Mukulu (in whie shirt) under police escort at Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam. Photo credit: K-Vis Blog

Jamil Mukulu (in whie shirt) under police escort at Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam. Photo credit: K-Vis Blog

The arrest in Tanzania of the elusive Jamil Mukulu, leader of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) should bring to a close almost 20 years of the group’s quiet terror not only in Uganda but in the region, the Uganda-based website ‘’ reported recently. But any sense of excitement over the arrest in Dar es Salaam in April has been mellowed by unexpected challenges around procedures for his extradition to Uganda.

For most Ugandans and the world, the ADF is known by what it did on June 9, 1998 at Kichwamba National Technical Institute in then-Kaborole district in Western Uganda.  On that day, at about 5:30 am, the ADF rebels attacked the school with plans to abduct the students.  But the students had prior information about a likely attack, and barricaded themselves in their dormitories. The attackers then set the buildings on fire killing up to 80 students and injuring many more.

Since then, although ADF continued attacks, including a bizarre grenade throwing campaign in Kampala city in the 1990s and 2001, their sniping was seen mainly as inconsequential nuisance, the Independent reported. Recently, President Yoweri Museveni’s urgency to wipe out ADF has risen because of the threat–however small–it poses to the exploitation of the newly discovered oil field in the Albertine basin that straddles the Uganda-DR Congo border.

Since 2013, there has been a disturbing series of attacks on police stations and other government installations in the area by yet unidentified armed attackers. The name of ADF has been mentioned. Congolese officials also, among many attrocities, hold the ADF responsible for the killing of at least 21 people, including women and a baby, in villages near Beni in North Kivu province in December. So it was with relief all round when news filtered in that Mukulu had been arrested in Tanzania.

But the excitement was soon dampened by trepidation.  Tough extradition negotiations led some observers to fear a reoccurrence of the case of former DR Congo warlord, Laurent Nkunda whom Rwanda arrested but refused to hand over to the DR Congo government.

Trouble with Tanzania

The tension was not eased when weeks after the news of the arrest first trickled in, Tanzania failed to confirm it. When it did, legal issues swung in as the extradition case went to the Tanzanian High Court. Uganda and Tanzania do not have an extradition agreement.

Part of the challenge, according to sources familiar with the case, is that Mukulu is a wanted man in about four countries; Uganda, Kenya, DR Congo, and even in Tanzania itself. He is accused of committing different crimes in each.

Tanzania has for some time been accused of turning its territory into a ‘safe haven’ for senior rebel leaders operating in the DR Congo. It is believed that although the Kenyan capital Nairobi has been Mukulu’s hub for conducting ADF economic and financial activities, his cell based in the Tanzanian city of Tanga has been his base for travel, especially to the Middle East.

In 2012, a UN report found that Mukulu was using a Tanzanian passport for some years, according to the Tanzania Guardian newspaper. The UN report said Mukulu was operating his illegal activities from a hotel called Nyavyamo located at the heart of Dar’s busy trading suburb of Kariakoo. The Hotel was owned by one Thomas Hamenyimana, who is a naturalised Tanzanian of Burundi origin. This hotel was frequented by the Congolese people from DR Congo.

According to the UN report, Jamil Mukulu was also known as Julius Elius Mashauri, who claimed to have been born in Bagamoyo in 1965. He applied and obtained the Tanzanian passport number AO 415126 in which he claimed to be a businessman resident in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. The report concluded that Mukulu had operations in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. The Guardian also reported that the UK had confirmed to the UN Group that Mukulu’s wife and a close male family member had been living outside London since early 2011, and that Mukulu has also purported to have houses in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

“In August, 2011, East African anti-terrorist agents informed the Group that one of Mukulu’s homes had been raided by Kenyan authorities in Nairobi, accompanied by UPDF representatives … Kenyan authorities captured Hassan Mukulu, one of Jamil’s sons, during the raid,” the report says.

ADF Starts to Crumble

Mukulu has suffered major setbacks in the months leading to his capture. Since January the DR Congo government forces have attacked Mukulu’s camps in an operation called “Sukola I” a Lingala word meaning “mop up”.

As in the past, ADF initially fought back hard. But this time DRC Government forces, the FARDC,  had a weapon the ADF was unprepared for; helicopters. MONUSCO provided limited intelligence and logistical support for FARDC. Using aerial superiority, big guns, and sheers numbers of boots on the ground, FARDC was able to gradually subdue Mukulu’s fighters.  But Jamil Mukulu’s troubles appear to have started on January 16, 2014 when the army of the DR Congo called FARDC attacked his camps in the Beni area of North Kivu province in the DRC near the Uganda border.

Between 1996 and 2003 the Uganda army entered DR Congo to flush ADF out and failed. From 2005, 2008, and 2010, FARDC, with UN backing, fought ADF but failed to wipe it out. Around most of this time, there was hostility between DR Congo president Joseph Kabila and Museveni. Therefore, it was argued, Kabila was propping up armed groups to carry out skirmishes on Uganda soil.

Under this arrangement, Mukulu appears to have been allowed to establish a network of camps that by 2014 housed approximately 2,000 people with a fighting force of about 500. At this time Mukulu ran a sort of bush government, according to the UN experts. He established Sharia law, had an internal security service, a prison, health clinics, an orphanage, and a school where children learned English and computer skills.

But he appeared to have suffered a setback in 2010 when his wife and son Hassan Nyanzi Mukulu fled from their hide-out in DR Congo after the son was injured in the eye. Nyanzi fled to Kenya but was arrested there and jailed for nine months on documentation charges. He was later handed over to the Uganda government in 2011.  When he was paraded before journalists in Kampala in September 2013, Nyanzi announced he had surrendered and denounced his father.

A few months later, in April 2014, according to reports, FARDC forces were closing in on Mukulu’s Medina camp headquarters. Mukulu reportedly sneaked out together with his head of finance, deputy army commander, and more than a dozen other senior leaders.

As Mukulu fled, according to reports, he assigned another commander, Sheik Musa Baluku, to lead about 1,000 women and children deeper into the forest, where they were weakened by lack of food and medical care. Up to 800 of them died. But the survivors appear to have clung on until recently.

In July 2014, the UN finally blacklisted ADF as a terrorist organisation for its recruitment and use of child soldiers, killing, maiming and sexually abusing women and children, and attacks on UN peacekeepers. Before that, Mukulu had since 2011 been subjected to targeted UN travel sanctions and an asset freeze. Through it all, Mukulu remained underground and was unheard of until he was arrested in Tanzania.  Mukulu is in custody in Tanzania, but the whereabouts of his other commanders remains a mystery.

In late April 2014, the Uganda army was reported that the ADF leader had been evacuated by some international allies. Then recently, at around the same time when news spread that Mukulu was captured on the night of April 24 and 25, the Congolese army announced it had killed Kasadha Kalume, a Ugandan who was believed to be the number three person in the ranks of the ADF.

Apparently, according to the DR Congo army spokesman, Maj. Victor Masandi, their special forces struck the ADF camp at Baruku between the Bango and Semliki rivers on April 22 and captured it after heavy fighting.

Masandi said Kasadha’s body was identified by a captured bodyguard to Musa Baluku, the number two person in the ADF. He added that Baluku and some of his lieutenants and dependents managed to escape from the camp during the fighting. The camp at Baruku consisted of 104 houses, including the headquarters, and was located inside the Virunga National Park in the foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains.


Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

 In another development, New York Times says U.S. intelligence officials have released a trove of documents recovered during the 2011 raid on Usama bin Laden’s compound — offering a rare window into the operations of Al Qaeda and bin Laden’s involvement in leading the network from his Pakistan hideaway.

The documents include dozens of letters, some from  bin Laden himself, as well as accounting information and even what appears to be an application form for prospective Al Qaeda members. That form, which asks a series of detailed questions, includes the line: “Who should we contact in case you became a martyr?”

The correspondence itself shows bin Laden continued to be engaged from his hideout and sought to direct operations. Shortly before he was killed in the May 2011 raid, a letter shows him celebrating the Arab Spring revolutions which had toppled Tunisia’s leader at that point and were mounting in several other countries.

“These are gigantic events that will eventually engulf most of the Muslim world, will free the Muslim land from American hegemony, and is troubling America whose Secretary of State declared that they are worried about the armed Muslims controlling the Muslim region,” bin Laden wrote, according to a translated version.

Bin Laden, writing to a follower identified as Atiyah, called for more Al Qaeda involvement in these countries once their leaders were deposed. [Also read: Documents seized during bin Laden raid released]

He described the events as “critical to our nation,” advising against being “fully occupied with the Afghanistan front.” Bin Laden wrote, “we should give our main attention to the Muslim nation’s revolution …” He called for supporting the rebellions and pursuing an “education stage” whenever rulers were deposed, by “mobilizing” writers and technicians to guide those nations.

Another message, undated and unsigned, speaks to similar themes. The letter lashes out against Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president who would soon be toppled. “The regime destroys the souls of the people from the palace,” it says. “Just as an unarmed man is killed by gunfire. [Mubarak] does as he wishes with the blood of the Muslims.” The letter details Al Qaeda’s plans, including a call to immediate action and an ominous warning that “disagreeing is bad for all.”  The letter says Ayman al-Zawahiri, now believed to be running Al Qaeda, is the appropriate person “from our ranks” to intervene because he is a “man of Egypt.”

The correspondence also includes letters among the bin Laden family members. One 2010 letter offers a glimpse into the Al Qaeda leader’s surveillance worries. In it, he urges his wife to “leave everything behind, including clothes, books, everything that she had in Iran” before arriving, warning about eavesdropping and the possibility that the Iranians would “implant a chip in some of the belongings that you might have brought along with you.”

Other documents show the day-to-day operations in Al Qaeda. One identified as “Instructions to Applicants” appears to be a form for Al Qaeda prospects. It asks for basic biographical information, as well as for information about “hobbies,” whether they know experts in chemistry, where they’ve traveled, and even “do you wish to execute a suicide operation?” This is followed by the question about whom to contact in case the applicant becomes a “martyr.”

Yet another document, a message in response to one of then-President George W. Bush’s State of the Union addresses, warned that the “motives that led to 9/11 are still there.” The message, presumably from bin Laden, said the 9/11 hijackers “are not exceptional freaks of history, but are the vanguards of a nation that rose up for Jihad, and there are millions of their brothers eager to seek the same path.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the document release, titled “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf,” follows a “rigorous interagency review.”

The office said the intelligence community “will be reviewing hundreds more documents in the near future for possible declassification and release.”  The documents, recovered from the compound four years ago, are being released now because legislation mandated their declassification. The rest of the released document are available on a US Government website:  CLICK TO READ THE DOCUMENTS