A joint operation by Uganda’s security has busted a Rwandan intelligence cell that has been operating in Kampala under the cover of a church organization.
At least 40 members of the ‘church organization’ have been arrested by operatives from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and Police.
The cell has been operating in Kibuye near Kampala, which is where the joint operation cracked down on the elements and arrested them on Tuesday.
A reliable source who is privy to details regarding the operations told SoftPower News that those arrested are members of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), a Rwandan intelligence agency.
They allegedly were carrying out espionage as well as other subversive activities in Uganda, under the cover of a Pentecostal Church called ADEPR.
“Authorities in Rwanda have been sending ‘pastors’ to operate in Uganda who in actual sense are trained intelligence officers on covert missions,” an impeccable source told SoftPower News.
When security agencies intensified operations aimed at cracking down on such acts of espionage beginning last year, the elements aligned with the said ‘church organization’ ADEPR went underground, a source told this news website.
The crackdown had also resulted in some arrests and deportations of those found carrying out acts to undermine Uganda’s security, back to Rwanda.
However, they recently rebranded and selected a new leadership, to hoodwink Ugandan authorities and further their activities. The group is said to be led by a one Charles. A source close to investigations told our reporter that Charles had been detailed by Rwanda’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) to head the church as a head pastor under the direct supervision of the Rwandan embassy in Uganda. The same source told this news website that the intelligence network of the Rwandan espionage churches is commanded by Mucyo, the First secretary of Rwanda’s Embassy in Uganda aided by Col James Burabyo.
The hitmen desk, according to the impeccable source, is headed by Rwanda’s Embassy Police Attaché, CP Ismail Baguma who doubles as Rwanda’s coordinator with ADF hitmen. The source revealed that the 40 suspects have been apprehended to aid investigations by Ugandan security. They are accused of using the church as a front organization to carry out undercover operations that undermine Uganda’s security.
Another source says one of the church operatives who has been arrested and deported back to Rwanda is currently detained in Rwanda and facing charges relating to mishandling their operations in Uganda. The detainee reportedly faces 30-year jail term if convicted.
“Please save us. Do not deport us,” one of the arrested Rwandans with a Ugandan fake Identity Card reportedly pleaded with Ugandan operatives upon arrest from the ADEPR Kibuye.
“We will either be arrested for many years or get killed for not conducting the operation well,” the ‘praying’ ADEPR folk who was among those attending a meeting in Kibuye when Ugandan operatives stormed the ‘church’ further pleaded.
Rwanda is known to rely significantly on clandestine intelligence networks planted in other countries some times using female sex workers.The latest arrest of the suspected operatives comes at a time when relations between Uganda and Rwanda are at their lowest.
The tipping point was in February when the Rwandan government closed its main border with Uganda causing a customs crisis. Rwanda denied Ugandan cargo trucks into the country and stopped all exports from Uganda. Kigali would later issue a travel advisory to its citizens advising them strongly to desist from crossing to Uganda.
Those traveling to Uganda by road were blocked and forced to return to Rwanda. However, droves of Rwandans continue to run into Uganda and some have been shot at by Rwanda Defence Forces at border points in a bid to protect them from being arrested in Uganda.
It is not clear why Rwandans continue to move to Uganda, a country the Rwandan administration claims is unsafe for their citizens. Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame and other top officials including the country’s top diplomat, Richard Sezibera said that the travel restrictions were in retaliation to Uganda’s continued arrest, harassment and deportation of Rwandans in Uganda.
However, the Ugandan government has repeatedly denied these allegations and stated that everyone living in Uganda (including Rwandans) must respect the law. Uganda accuses Rwanda of sneaking its agents into Uganda to carry out abductions and killings in disregard of international laws.
A number of Rwandans including Rene Rutagungira are facing the General Court Martial in Uganda for kidnapping and illegal repatriation of Rwandan refugees back to Rwanda.
Uganda hosts more than a million refugees and the country’s open – door policy to refugees, many of who ran away from persecution from their home countries, is lauded by the United Nations as the best in the world. Uganda is also hailed for efforts to allow refugees integrate with Ugandan communities. Countless Rwandans lead thriving livelihoods in Uganda, a matter that Uganda government sources say the Kigali government is not happy about.
The same sources say Uganda will continue to encourage good neighbourliness and remain focused on regional integration, free movement of persons and goods in East Africa and the Great Lakes Region, despite Rwanda’s actions.
In a May brief to the diplomatic corps in Uganda on the status of the Uganda – Rwanda relations, Uganda’s Foreign Minister, Sam Kutesa said Uganda was focused on securing Ugandans’ security. Kutesa said that in as much as Rwandans are welcome to visit Uganda, they are required to abide by the laws of the land. Anyone who breaks the law will be dealt with in accordance with the law, the Minister said.
The Minister said a number Rwandan security operatives have been entering Uganda without following laid down procedures that govern the entry of security personnel into the country. In such cases, he said, a number of those apprehended have been deported back to Rwanda.
A few months ago, Uganda’s President Museveni in a letter to his Rwandan counterpart, Kagame, said; “What is wrong is for Rwanda agents to try to operate behind the government of Uganda. I get a lot of stories; but I will never raise them unless I have confirmed them”.