Wor­ry­ing re­port of ter­ror­ist groups gain­ing fi­nan­cial mus­cle in Uganda

Fi­nan­cial flows at­trib­uted to ter­ror groups in East Africa clocked $100 mil­lion last year

The East African - - NEWS -

By BERNARD BUSUULWA

Find­ings con­tained in Uganda’s fi­nal Na­tional Risk As­sess­ment re­port of in­creased ca­pac­ity among ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions to ex­e­cute big­ger at­tacks are a wor­ry­ing sign.

It also cat­a­logues sig­nif­i­cant weak­nesses of re­gional gov­ern­ments strug­gling to tackle il­licit fi­nan­cial flows.

The re­port cap­tures key ar­eas of ex­po­sure to money laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing de­tected in the econ­omy in line with in­ter­na­tional com­pli­ance stan­dards set by the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task­force based in Paris, France. The as­sess­ment is sup­posed to be car­ried out af­ter ev­ery five years.

Ter­ror­ism fund­ing refers to money gen­er­ated by ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions to fi­nance ter­ror ac­tiv­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly re­cruit­ment and train­ing of fight­ers, main­te­nance of lo­cal cells that accommodate mil­i­tants, pro­pa­ganda cam­paigns and ter­ror at­tacks such as the World Trade Cen­tre bomb­ings in New York City in Septem­ber 2011.

More cash re­ceived by ter­ror­ist groups im­plies higher ca­pac­ity to con­duct mul­ti­ple, deadly at­tacks in coun­tries in­volv­ing sev­eral col­lab­o­ra­tors, ob­servers say.

Neigh­bour­ing coun­tries

The re­port states that ter­ror­ists fund their war chests mainly from ex­tor­tion schemes, wildlife crimes, piracy, trade, dona­tions from non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions and for­eign re­mit­tances, among oth­ers.

Some of the ma­jor ter­ror­ist groups names in the re­gion are the So­ma­lia-based Al Shabaab, the Ugan­dan Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo-based Al­lied Demo­cratic Force (ADF) and the Lord’s Re­sis­tance Army (LRA) also orig­i­nally Uganda-based but now re­port­edly op­er­at­ing in the Cen­tral African Repub­lic.

The LRA is led by Joseph Kony. Whereas Al Shabaab is based in So­ma­lia and is responsible for sev­eral ter­ror at­tacks in that coun­try, this group has also planned and ex­e­cuted a num­ber of at­tacks, es­pe­cially in Kenya and the neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

Al Shabaab’s main sources of in­come are ex­tor­tion, trade, for­eign re­mit­tances and piracy, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The group’s ex­tor­tion vic­tims in­clude So­mali fam­i­lies that re­ceive wel­fare cash trans­fers from rel­a­tives run­ning busi­nesses in Uganda, most of which are lo­cated in the cen­tral Kampala area; a scenario that presents com­pli­cated en­force­ment choices for Uganda’s se­cu­rity agen­cies.

In com­par­i­son, the ADF’S pres­ence has been felt in the east­ern DR Congo where it main­tains some bases and parts of Uganda since it was formed in 1996.

The ADF is blamed for past civil­ian mas­sacres in east­ern DRC and the se­ries of bomb­ings in Kampala in 1997 and 1998 that killed scores of civil­ians.

The group is led by Jamil Mukulu, a former Chris­tian and rad­i­cal Is­lamic activist who is cur­rently fac­ing a host of trea­son charges to­gether with sus­pected ADF mem­bers in the High Court Crim­i­nal Di­vi­sion and has called for the cre­ation of an Is­lamic state in Uganda.

Its sources of rev­enue in­clude trade, real es­tate busi­ness, il­le­gal min­ing and dona­tions from non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions, the re-

Sydney Asubo, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Uganda’s Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Au­thor­ity:

“The ma­jor sources of ter­ror­ism funds are ex­tor­tion, wildlife crimes, dona­tions, tax eva­sion and the min­eral trade. This fig­ure is an es­ti­mate based on our find­ings but de­tails can­not be dis­cussed be­cause of their sen­si­tiv­ity to­wards cur­rent ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions. But cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als en­gaged in ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing like Jamil Mukulu have done many busi­ness trans­ac­tions in the past, ac­cu­mu­lated a lot of money and this has sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­uted to over­all ter­ror­ism fi­nan­cial flows.”

Pic­ture: File

Sus­pects who were ar­rested af­ter the July 11, 2010, twin bomb­ings by Al Shabaab in Kampala that claimed 90 lives, leave a prison bus at the Uganda High Court.

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