Since its formation in eastern DR Congo 22 years ago, the Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) terrorist organisation has laid waste to both Uganda as well as parts of DRC. Can this brutal organisation be curbed, let alone be eliminated? Epajjar Ojulu discusses.
Uganda and the ADF rebel conundrum
President Yoweri Museveni has fought and successfully wiped out half a dozen armed rebel groups since he came to power in 1986, but the ongoing ability of the extremist Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) to wreak havoc on Uganda with impunity continues to haunt him.
The apparent invincibility of the ADF does not lie in its military superiority or strategy but on its choice of haven, in the deep, impenetrable jungles of the neighbouring North Kivu province in eastern DRC, Africa's equivalent of America's Wild West. In addition, the rebel hit-and-run mode of urban terrorism has always sent the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) on a wild goose chase in its efforts to track them down.
In theory, the eastern Ituri forest region is under the jurisdiction ofKinshasa. But in practise, the region, far from from DRC's capital, is beyond normal law and order. It is virtually impossible for the Ugandan army to track down and destroy ADF rebel bases there.
Although the ADF's ultimate mission ofoverthrowing the government of President Museveni and replacing it with an Islamic republic appears to be a fantasy, the organisation is nevertheless giving Uganda's security forces sleepless nights due to the nature of its vicious and unpredictable attacks.
The rebels have succeeded in creating fear and panic, especially among the elite, who are often their target. Alarm levels are so high that President Museveni has instructed the finance ministry to procure armoured escort vehicles for MPs and other senior government officials to protect them from rebel attacks.
The government has also purchased and installed CCTV cameras around Kampala and other urban areas. Critics, however, cast doubts on the ability of the new plans to ward off attacks.
Long list of brutal attacks
The list of the ADF's brutal attacks is long. The major ones include the burning alive in 1999 of 80 students at Kichwamba Technical College, in the western district of Kabarole. They also abducted another 100 students for conscription into their ranks.
In 2010, the rebels, together with Somalia's Al-Shabaab terrorist group, were blamed for a series of bombs that killed over 80 fans watching...