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Guest blog: Ten questions for Jamil Mukulu

This is a guest blog by Dan Fahey. He was the finance expert for the UN Group of Experts on the DR Congo in 2013-2014 and coordinator of the Group in 2014. He is currently a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. 

The news that Jamil Mukulu, the leader of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group, has been arrested is as surprising as it is welcome. During 2014, I was Coordinator of the UN Group of Experts on DRC, which documented Mukulu’s responsibility for a wide range of crimes including slavery, forced marriage, and use of child soldiers. Mukulu’s capture could solve many mysteries about this enigmatic group, but it could also reveal many unpleasant truths about how and why ADF was able to survive for the last twenty years. If I could interview Mukulu, I would start by posing the following questions:

  •  Where have you been since April 2014?


Jamil Mukulu left ADF’s Madina camp in April 2014, shortly before FARDC seized it. Since that time, there have been many rumors about Mukulu’s whereabouts, but nothing solid until he was arrested in Tanzania. How and when did Mukulu leave Congo, and why did he end up in Tanzania? Who helped him?

  • Where are your sons Richard and Moses, your head of finance Bisasso, your advisor Benjamin, and the other senior leaders who disappeared with you in April 2014?

The Group of Experts determined that prior to leaving Madina camp, Mukulu essentially divided ADF’s leadership into two groups, taking more than a dozen leaders with him, and leaving others behind to lead the (then) large ADF group in the bush. What have those who left with Mukulu been doing for the last year, and where are they now?

  • Did you have an agreement with the DRC government that allowed ADF to exist in Beni territory?

During 2014, several ex-combatants told the Group of Experts that Jamil Mukulu claimed that he had a kind of non-aggression pact with the DRC government, which the DRC government had violated by launching Operation Sukola.  A tract attributed to ADF that was distributed in June 2010 in Beni made a similar claim: that ADF was collaborating with the DRC government.  Was there such an agreement? If so, with whom was it made, and did it involve working with military officers, politicians or businessmen to exploit timber, agricultural crops, or other resources in ADF’s area of influence?

  • To what extent is ADF responsible for the massacres in Beni territory since September 2014?

Since September, several hundred people have been killed and wounded – often by machete-wielding attackers – in Beni territory.  The DRC government and MONUSCO have variously blamed ADF or ADF “allies”, but the identities of those responsible, and their motivation(s), remains unclear.  The 2014 Group of Experts found that ADF was likely responsible for some attacks, but not others.  Who is responsible for the massacres?  If ADF is involved, did Mukulu give the orders, or did they come from ADF commanders still in the bush?  Is ADF now working with “allies”, and if so, who are they?

  •   Do you now, or did you in the past, have links to Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab, or other armed groups?

The Government of Uganda has repeatedly claimed that ADF has links to international terrorist groups, despite a lack of clear and convincing evidence.  In fact, many ex-combatants and ADF dependents told the Group of Experts in 2014 that no such links existed.  Has ADF ever had links to international terrorist groups, or local Congolese militias?  If so, what was the nature of those links, and do they continue today?

  •  Who has been sending you money from London, England?

The Group of Experts confirmed that during 2013-2014, people in London sent money to ADF operatives in Butembo and Goma.  Mukulu’s arrest is a great opportunity to learn more about ADF’s links to London, and its international network.  Who has been sending money to ADF, and why?  How much have they sent, and are they still sending it?

  • What happened to the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff that ADF captured at Kamango?

In July 2013, ADF soldiers captured four MSF staff in Kamango, near the Ugandan border.  Numerous ADF ex-combatants told the Group of Experts that these people were alive as of April 2014; in fact, one of them escaped in August 2014.   Are the others still alive?  If so, where are they now, and who has authority over them?

  •  Was ADF involved in the assassination of Col. Mamadou Ndala?

The DRC government blamed the January 2014 killing of Col. Mamadou – widely seen by Congolese as the hero of the war against M23 – on ADF and some rogue FARDC officers, including Col. Birocho Nzanzu.  In November 2014, a military court convicted Birocho and sentenced him to death, in part based on statements made by an anonymous man who claimed to have been a senior ADF commander.  This mystery man’s identity and testimony should now be cross-checked with Mukulu, not only to ensure Birocho’s conviction is just, but also because the mystery man told UN staff some incredible tales about ADF’s links to international terrorist groups.  Was ADF involved in Mamadou’s killing, and if so, did it work with FARDC officers?  Does Mukulu know the mystery man who helped to condemn Birocho, and if so, is that man credible?

  • Was ADF involved in the recent murders of clerics and a prosecutor in Kampala?

The Ugandan government has blamed ADF for being behind the murders of three Muslim clerics and a government prosecutor in late 2014 and early 2015.  Was ADF involved?  If so, how and why?

  •  How do you reconcile ADF’s practice of forcing girls and women to marry ADF men, with your practice of punishing rape?

During 2014, the Group of Experts documented that ADF leaders forced women and girls as young as 14 years old to marry ADF men.  Even Mukulu is reported to have taken teen-age girls as wives.  Yet in an extreme example of cognitive dissonance, ADF also prohibited rape, and severely punished those it found guilty of that crime.  How many girls and women experienced forced marriage, and the often-related offenses of forced conversion and slavery?  Are the survivors getting adequate care and assistance?

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