In Mpwonde, Uganda, during the funeral of victims of an attack attributed to the ADF, on June 18, 2023. STUART TIBAWESWA / AFP
The latest report by UN experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), presented on June 13 to the United Nations Security Council, obviously could not refer to the attack carried out three days later against a high school. in Uganda. A cruel attack attributed by Kampala to the Islamist extremists of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which cost the lives of around forty people, murdered at nightfall with machetes and axes, according to the testimonies of some survivors. It is one of the worst massacres committed in Uganda by the ADF for years.
The conclusions of the UN investigators suggest that the martyrdom of the Lhubiriha high school in Mpondwe, located not far from the Congolese border, will undoubtedly not be the last. Experts have, in fact, uncovered networks of international financing of terrorist attacks in East Africa carried out in the name of the Islamic State organization (EI or Daesh, its Arabic acronym).
“Based on documentary evidence and significant testimonials”, the expert group thus managed to establish for the first time that IS had provided financial support to the ADF since at least 2019, through a “complex financial system” involving several countries on the continent: from Somalia to South Africa, via Kenya, Uganda and, ultimately, the DRC, where the ADF have established their base.
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Originally, these rebels came from northern Uganda, fighting against the autocratic power of Yoweri Museveni. In 2016, they reportedly pledged allegiance to IS. The ADF was classified as a terrorist organization in 2021 by the United States, which is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information on its current leader, Seka Musa Baluku. In November 2021, the Ugandan and Congolese armies launched the joint operation “Shujaa” (“bravery”, in Swahili) to reduce ADF strongholds in the DRC. Few details filter on this military campaign which, according to certain sources, would have succeeded in weakening the movement.
An international movement
The UN report shows, however, that the organization is not isolated, but that it is part of an international movement. The investigators have thus managed to dissect some of the group’s financing systems, which therefore go back to the Horn of Africa. According to them, “At the center of the financial device is Suhayl Salim Mohammed Abdelrahman (alias Bilal Al-Sudani), a member of Daesh in Somalia under the command of Yusuf Abulqadir Mumin”founder of IS in that country.
Under the leadership of Al-Sudani, “Abdirizak Mohamed Abdi Jimale, another Somali national working in the financial department of Daesh in Somalia, allegedly transferred between 2019 and 2020 more than $400,000 to two Daesh agents based in Johannesburg”, can we read in the report. These two men, Maisa Cissa (alias Missa Issa and Maise Isse), a Ugandan national, and Sheikh Abdi Oromay, an Ethiopian, were using “a hawala system [système informel de transfert de fonds] through Heeryo Trading Enterprise, a company registered in Somalia and South Africa”.
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Part of the funds then went back to Nairobi, Kenya, then to Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique. UN experts say “Hawala and money transfer services, such as Mama Money and Selpal, have become a back door for Daesh and other criminal networks to facilitate huge flows of money throughout the region”.
Parallel to these opaque financing circuits, the group of experts obtained “for the first time documentary evidence of clear organizational links between the ADF and Daesh agents in South Africa”. Are identified Abdella Hussein Abadigga and Farhad Hoomer, two activists placed under sanctions by the United States, in March 2022, because of their links with Bilal Al-Sudani and Daesh.