Friday, November 27, 2015


This article is from Al Jazeera via allafrica dot com.

Many Ugandans have lived through fear over the decades - either because of the actions of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army or from the campaign of an Islamist insurgency known as the ADF. But today Ugandan Muslims face a different anxiety.

Over the past two years, unknown assailants have ambushed and killed a dozen of the country's leading Muslim clerics. Others survived and now live in fear. The attacks have occurred across the country, from the capital, Kampala, to border towns like Mbale.

The government and police say that ADF insurgents, among others, are responsible for the killings. Other's blame them on an ideological struggle within the Muslim community or a result of a fight over property and money.

Many, though, are pointing fingers at Ugandan government security forces themselves, accusing them of using violence and the 'threat of terrorism' to engender reasons for suppressing political opposition.

In the middle of all this is a so-called hit list with the names of Muslim clerics who have, apparently, been marked for murder. Over half of those on the list have now been killed and the rest now live under armed protection, but they remain under threat, increasing tensions between the different Muslim denominations, the public and the authorities.

Prompted by this story's mysterious claims and counter claims, reporters Sorious Samura and Ivan Okuda and producer Clive Patterson teamed up to find out who is really behind the violence that is dividing a community and the nation and to ask whether state agencies are more involved than they are letting on.


By Clive Patterson

I work with Sorious Samura, the renowned journalist from Sierra Leone and when we heard that 12 Muslim clerics had recently been murdered or died in mysterious circumstances in Uganda, we knew we had a story we wanted to investigate further. The story intrigued us for a number of reasons: The majority of the clerics were killed in a similar fashion - shot at night by gunmen who arrived and escaped on motorcycles; there have been no convictions to date; there didn't appear to be an obvious motive for the killings - all very curious.

Last year, Al Jazeera exposed the existence of government death squads in Kenya targeting, among others, Muslim leaders. Was something similar going on in neighbouring Uganda?

We were also very impressed by Ugandan journalist, Ivan Okuda, who brought the story to our attention and was selected to join our Africa Investigates team this year.

So what on earth was going on? We'd begun our investigation with a mystery about the murder of 12 Muslim clerics and we'd found a puzzle, tied in a riddle and wrapped up in enigma, all somehow connected to increasingly implausible and contradictory official accusations about a grand conspiracy involving Islamist insurgents.

We wanted to sit down with state officials to discuss these matters. We put in interview requests for the Inspector General of the Police and President Yoweri Museveni who has held power in Uganda since 1986. Why, we wanted to know, was the government insisting that the killings were carried out by the ADF when the evidence seemed so scant? Why was police accusing a heart specialist, Dr Aggrey Kiyingi, who lived thousands of miles away in Australia, of involvement in these attacks? And where in this jigsaw puzzle did the contradictory claims and counter claims about the Tabliqs and their leader, Sheikh Kamoga, fit in?

What, in short, was going on?

Neither the president nor Uganda's chief policeman agreed to take part in our film.

So we put that question to someone else who might know. General David Ssejusa is one of the Ugandan army's most decorated officers. He was also an intelligence chief and adviser to the president until he fell out of favour for criticising the government in public.

His answer, as you'll see in the film, is illuminating and suggests that the authorities may be using the murders as a political tool to exaggerate the perception that Uganda is under attack by Islamic extremists.

Make of the general's comments what you will, but certainly both Sorious and I came away from this story disturbed by what we had heard about the Ugandan government and its use of the police force.

As for who is behind the killings of the 12 Muslim clerics? Well, watch our film and then draw your own conclusions.

Source:: Al Jazeera

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