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Next challenge for Congo: International terrorism

Along with Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab militants, many intelligence sources are placing blame for the July 11 Uganda bombings on the ADF-NALU, an armed group based in the mountains of eastern Congo.

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In January 1995, a group called the Ugandan Muslim Liberation Army (UMLA) declared war against Museveni's government, accusing him of having killed Muslims during the civil war. At the same time, a Baganda monarchist movement, the Allied Democratic Movement (ADM), was formed in London, demanding the reinstatement of the Buganda kingdom.

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The UMLA launched an attack in western Uganda in February 1995 and was prompted defeated and pushed across the border into Zaire. In Bunia, the remnants of the UMLA met up with Sudanese intelligence officers, who were using the airstrip there to ferry supplies to the LRA and the ex-FAR. They fused with the ADM to create the Allied Democratic Front, and joined forces with the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda, which had its base among the Konjo community of the Ruwenzori mountains. Voila: ADF-NALU was born. It now has the honor of being on the US Terrorist Exclusion List.

Motive for the attacks?

So what would the motive be behind these attacks? The ADF have been relatively dormant - just a few years back they were estimated to be under 1,000 soldiers, mostly Congolese and with tight links to Mbusa Nyamwisi's former rebellion. According to humanitarian sources around Beni, they have been fairly quiet over the past few years, although they have ambushed several aid convoys in the region and stolen supplies. They appeared largely to be reduced to smuggling gold and cutting timber in the Erengeti area on the border between North Kivu and Ituri.

Now, all of a sudden, intelligence reports from both Uganda and MONUC indicate that they had been gearing up for an attack.

It is possible that Museveni had been tipped off, as Mwenda suggests, and encouraged Kabila to launch an offensive against them. For whatever reason, on June 25, the Congolese army launched Operation Ruwenzori, sending in several thousand troops to attack the ADF-NALU, displacing 60,000 people. According to MONUC sources, the ADF were much better equipped than the Congolese army expected and they have taken heavy losses in their initial battles.

Was it perhaps in reaction to that offensive that the ADF carried out the bombings in conjunction with Al-Shabab?

Whatever it was, I am sure people in Langley have been calling around to find out who exactly these guys are.

Congo, welcome to the land of international terror.

--- Jason Stearns blogs at Congo Siasa.

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