Are Allied Democratic Forces rebels an Islamic outfit or a bunch of rapists masquerading as mujahidin?

Are Allied Democratic Forces rebels an Islamic outfit or a bunch of rapists masquerading as mujahidin?


There is no doubt that in armed conflicts participants on either side disguise themselves to avoid being identified as enemies. Where one of the participants is a guerilla group, the fighters may adopt Muslim or Christian names to confuse the reigning regime.

Or else they may wear the uniform of the army of the ruling regime or of the ruling party, and even secure party identity cards to the same end.

This is why I have constructed the above title in view of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is often mentioned by people in power as the cause of much the insecurity in Uganda, and also in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in areas where the Uganda Peopled Defence Forces (UPDF) operates, ostensibly to help secure the Congolese against the destabilising ADF. 

Many Muslims have lost lives. Sometimes it is claimed that ADF killed them. Some have been in custody for a long time because it is believed they members of ADF, which is said to be a largely Muslim. 

Whenever there are bombings, mainly in Kampala, or mass killings in some parts of Uganda, especially Kasese, ADF is suspected to be involved. The only time ADF was not evoked to explain mass killings was when more than 100 people were killed in Kasese by soldiers under the command of a one Elweru, and the King of the Rwenzururu was arrested and incarcerated for an extended period. The king was only released recently.

It is not irrelevant to question if majority of ADF are fake Muslims. During the rebel activities of the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) against Idi Amin’s military regime in the 1970s, and commanded by a one Yoweri Museveni, many Christian elements in the rank and file of the rebel outfit adopted Muslim names.

According to an article in the Daily Monitor of January 1, 2016, the top command of the FRONASA rebel group camouflaged themselves with Muslim names. During Obote II, they also camouflaged themselves, according to a revelation by Major General Kahinda Otafitre during the burial of Pro Adoniya Tiberondwa in Bushenyi in 2004. They also camouflaged themselves by wearing UPC T-shirts, apart from the uniform of the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF), to which they had belonged and of which Yoweri Museveni was the political head as minister of defence.

So during the days of FRONASA (in Idi Amin era) and Patriotic Resistance Army and National Resistance Army (in the Obote II era and Tito Okello era) the Yoweri Museveni combatants invariably used Muslim names. Yoweri Museveni himself used either Musa or Kassim; Caleb Akandwanaho used Salim Saleh; Fred Rwigyema, the pioneer commander of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) was Chefe Gisa; Mwine Kajungu became Chefe Ali and Kangaho became Chefe Makosa. I failed to establish the name used by Rwanda’s strongman, Paul Kagame.

In a world of possibilities:

Could ADF combatants be Christians posing as Muslims just like their rebel counterparts in FRONASA, RPF and NRA did?

Could ADF be a creation of the NRM government itself, as many people claim, to rule Ugandans under fear by periodically accusing the rebel group as a way of maintaining a cloud of insecurity over Uganda while assuring the Ugandans and the international community that the country is very secure and peaceful?

According to the January 1, 2023 article in the Daily Monitor, the FRONASA and by extension, RPF and NRA rebels, adopted Muslim names as a psychological weapon. The article records: “They did not want a scenario where Idi Amin would use counter-propaganda to claim that Christians were fighting Muslims.”

Indeed the public wrongly perceived FRONASA, RPF and NRA rebels to be Muslims, which was not true.  People like Haji Abdu Nadduli were few in the rebel ranks. The overwhelming majority were Rwandese and Ugandan Christians. It was a good strategy. It earned the rebels enormous sympathy and moral and financial support domestically and internationally, although they were also strongly supported by the Anglo-American axis of global power.

In fact, Muammar Gadaffi, the fallen strongman of Libya, became a very strong ally of the rebels. Years later in Kampala he told President Tibuhaburwa Museveni (formally known just as Yoweri Museveni) that revolutionaries don’t retire. And indeed the president has shown no sign of saying “enough is enough”. It was unfortunate that when Gadaffi was killed after 42 years in power, President Tibuhaburwa Museveni distanced himself from him in death, and is not remembered as having condemned the Americans who were behind his killing.

One thing is true. The Qur’an, the Holy Book of Muslims, does not approve of many things that the ADF does – burning people, schools and indiscriminately kidnapping and killing men, women and children. True Muslims would not also rape women and young girls.

I have been seriously reading the Qur’an, and I thank Hon Asuman Kiyingi who donated it to me in  2022.  Many terrible things happening in Uganda, and committed by either ordinary Ugandans, soldiers, policemen, government and ADF rebels are not approved of by the Qur’an. I am not a Muslim – and do not intend to become one – but the values and virtues that the Qur’an professes and advocates are good for all humanity and all individuals.

I have always wondered whether the ADF rebels really believe in Islam and take the Qur’an seriously. What they do is what Christians and people of other religions, such as Buddhism, have done for centuries, yet the Qur’an condemns them: killing, maiming, stealing, grabbing, rape, etc.

Indeed the more I have read the Qur’an the more I have wondered whether ADF is a largely Muslim outfit. What I have picked from it would be attractive to any human who craves for a peaceful and secure world, and for this matter, Uganda. Let me list for you some of what I have picked. The Qur’an:

* Detests conflicts and war and even enslavement and exploitation of humanity

* Stresses education and intellectual development for all and decries those who violate these essentials of human development

* Detests hoarding of money and commodities and prefers continuous circulation of both for a healthy economy

* Detests accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few and prefers that it is fairly distributed or disbursed among all people and  communities

* Prefers distribution of inheritance to all heirs

* Prefers charity to loans and profiteering

* Prohibits aggression

* Detests corruption

* Prohibits wholesale condemnation of all religions

* Fully safeguards the rights of women and children

* Explains the rights, duties and obligations of women, men, children, parents, brothers, sister, husbands, wives, daughters, neighbours, the poor, orphans, widows, strangers

* Takes government as no more than a trustee that should care for all and the security and safety of public money and property

* Was the first to establish democracy

* Demands that public servants discharge their obligations with honesty and integrity

* Detests people who assume absolute power and authority

* Does not take beneficent rule and administration as a matter of favour shown by the ruler to the ruled

* Stresses that sovereignty belongs to the people, and that those who the people entrust with power and authority are supposed to apply them on behalf of the people and God, not for their selfish interests

* Stresses that truth should be at the centre of government and the citizens

* Stresses diligence and condemns cowardice, bullying and fanaticism

* Encourages the exercise of reason and reflection

* Does not permit enslavement and stresses the equality of humanity before God

*Warns those that arrogate any kind of superiority to themselves and submits that such people will be humbled and laid lower than those they mistreat

* It prohibits gambling of any kind and the use of intoxicants

* It prohibits the use of ornaments and silk garments by men

* It advises that in our search for the truth, we should seek assistance not only from reason and reflection but most importantly from God

Not only should Muslims but all humanity, including those in power and authority, or any position of leadership, take these Qur’anic values and virtues seriously to rebuild and reconstruct the kind of humanity that God desired to inhabit the earth in harmony with other beings and nature. We need harmonious interactions amongst ourselves and other beings amongst all ecologies and environment to ensure sustainability of anything. We are faced with ecological and environmental decay and collapse because we have ignored these important Qur’anic values and virtues.

Conferences and summits will not restore humanity, sanity and liveable ecologies and environments, but commitment to these virtues and values will

If ADF rebels are Muslims, then they should adhere to the counsel of the Qur’an against destruction of life, aggression, conflicts and wars. If they are not Muslims but a deceptive outfit to sustain hotspots of instability and insecurity in order to deceive and dominate others, then the designers should follow the Qur’anic counsel of seeking and ensuring the truth through reason and reflection as well as putting God at the centre of everything they conceive and do to ensure genuine peace, security, harmony and sustainability of ecologies, environments, humanity and future.

For God and my country.

  • A Tell report / By Prof Oweyegha-Afunaduula, a former professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences of the Makerere University, Uganda
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