It was in 1996, that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) announced their presence with a goal to overthrow the government of Uganda and establish a Muslim state, based on the Islamic Sharia law.
However, the rebel movement had started much earlier. During Idi Amin’s regime, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) flourished, sending many youth on scholarship to various Arab countries for Islamic studies.
Some of them returned with fundamentalist ideas. Since UM]SC could not meet the expectations of the graduates as in providing them with jobs, the youth accused them of incompetence and corruption. Militant groups mushroomed in the 1980s that violently occupied mosques and in the 1990s, the Tabliq section had grown out of hand.
The founders of the radical youth groups could no longer contain them. Sheikh Muhammed Kamoga and Jamilu Mukulu had effectively taken control of the Tabliq sect and embarked on their agenda, seizing the UMSC, whose leadership was being accused of incompetence and acting immorally contrary to the Islamic laws.
Mukulu who was schooled in Koranic studies in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, was allegedly at the forefront of challenging the leadership of UMSC.
During the prayers at the Tabliq Headquarters on February 12, 1991 at Nakasero Mosque during midday (Dhuhuri) prayers Sheikh Mohammed Kamoga gave a sermon where he accused the leadership of UMSC of among other things “maladministration, mismanagement of UMSC affairs and funds, failure to resolve and stick to the agreement made by the youths and leadership of UMSC
headquarters which was mediated by the government”.
The youth sect also accused the government of interference in their religious affairs. They said that after the capture of UMSC headquarters, in 1990, they were assured by the government that they would not be victimised after withdrawing from UMSC.
However, Kamoga was sued for damaging UMSC property hence the agreement was dishonoured.
Kamoga appealed to his followers to sacrifice their lives for what they believed to be correct and right, irrespective of the outcomes.
He also cautioned that should he or Jamilu Mukulu and any other leaders be arrested, the Tabliq youth followers had the obligation to hunt and kill Sheikh Rajab Kakoza, Sheikh Kamulegeya, Dr Kisule Hamidu, Byekwaso Yusuf, Hassan, Sekandi. Those names were of leaders of the UMSC at the HQs.
The source says that Sheikh Kamoga further claimed that he had organised and sent messages to their followers’ upcountry to come on Friday, February 15, 1991 to have prayers at Nakasero Mosque from where he planned to attack and capture UMSC headquarters Kamoga said they were ready to cause chaos and confront anybody even if they are armed policemen.
Capture of UMSC
As information trickled in that tabliq youth at Nakasero Mosque were in preparation to attack, Sheikh Kamoga delivered another sermon which lasted over two hours in which he showed the congregation the contributions collected towards the Muslim community of the same sect in Lira. Those included plates, second hand clothes and medicine. Later money was collected towards the same. It was here he declared that he had given up his life and wealth to fight for Islam.
After that sermon on February 15, 1991 armed police and military police were deployed, forcing him to postpone the meeting that was supposed to take place that day. He called all district sect leaders to come for a meeting on March 21 and also informed their followers to report on the March 22 without fail for the action. The day was declared the day to take action.
He aised the followers to come with whatever item as being cautious. He encouraged them not to fear to confront whether armed police or military. Kamoga is quoted to have said, “army men also die” citing Fred Rwigyema and David Oyite Ojok. Rwigyema died in Rwanda in 1990 after the Rwanda Patriotic Forces attacked the government of Juvenal Habyarimana and Ojok died during the National Resistance Army rebellion against President Obote’s government.
On March 22 , 1991, at around 1.30pm Jamilu Mukulu and other followers from Nakasero Mosque, together with supporters from upcountry districts of Masaka, Jinja, Mbale, Ntungamo, and Bushenyi, numbering about 400 people armed with clubs, stones, pangas, bows and other killer objects descended on the UMSC Headquarters coming from Ben Kiwanuka Street via Mini Price.
Sheikh Rajab Kakoza was the Supreme Mufti and the Head of the UMSC by then.
It is alleged that Sheikh Takuwa, Sheikh Abdul Nasir and another small group of the Nakasero followers had entered the UMSC Headquarters earlier ahead of the main group.
Even when Sheikh Kamoga tried to stop the attack on UMSC, Jamilu Mukulu and others defied him.
The attack became violent and four policemen died. These included AIP Victor Andrew Geri, PC Amos Muhumuza, PC Bashir Nyakojo and PC Francis Ojok.
Four canine dogs were also killed and Jamilu Mukulu’s group managed to hold on to the UMSC Headquarters for some hours.
Mukulu was instrumental in providing logistics to the attackers like clubs, stones and sugar canes which he ferried in using his pick up Reg. No. UPE 312 Toyota Corolla DX. As the situation became tense, the commanding officer of military police then Maj. Gen. James Kazini (RIP) ordered his men to arrest the attackers.
Mukulu and 400 others were arrested and sent to Luzira Prison. Their leader Kamoga fled to Kenya.
Sheik Sulaiman Kaketo was elected as head of the Nakasero sect in 1992, at a time Mukulu and group were in detention in Luzira prison.
In Luzira, Mukulu met Joseph Lusse and a one Tumushabe who later became to be known as “Benz”. They introduced him to the idea of turning his scheme into a political cause of turning Uganda into a Muslim state governed by Sharia law. They allegedly offered to teach them some military skills like gun stripping and assembling. About 40 prisoners became the core of the militant group upon their release from the cells two years later.
When in 1994, Mukulu was released with his colleagues, they met up with Sheik Muzafar Mulinde, and it was as if they were starting from where they had ended as immediately, they started accusing Sheik Sulaiman Kaketo of incompetence and being a mole in Islamic faith. The Nakasero group thereafter split into two factions – the SALAF Foundation headed by Jamilu Mukulu and TALAF headed by Sulaiman Kaketo.
Mukulu’s SALAF sect left Nakasero and set up base in Makindye, Madirisa zone. After a while, the SALAF again shifted their headquarters to Sheikh Kimera’s plot in Mengo near Lubiri.
Whil, a committee to head the SALAF sect Foundation was elected with Sheik Muzafalu Mulinde – Emir its head, Sheik Mukulu as the Chief judge, Sheik Abdullah Yusuf Chief prosecutor, Sheik Ismail Buikwe the Amir Dawa, Sheik Shalif Mukyotala the Treasurer, and Sheik Iddrisa Mugalula as the aisor.
Security says the Salaf set up a business at Container Village of a shop dealing in car and spare parts importation. Mukulu allegedly ordered his youth followers to conduct armed robberies aimed at bolstering their financial capacity and also to acquire guns for future plans, targeting armed policemen, soldiers and petrol stations
At this stage, the SALAF foundation had become increasingly underground, elusive and militant. They embarked on covert recruitment of youth promising recruits jobs if they liberated the country to establish an Islamic State.
At this point, there was no turning back, a rebel movement had been formed.