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EU sanctions top ADF commander over attacks in Kasese, DR Congo

Tanzanian ADF Leader Ahmad Mahmood Hassan who was sanctioned on Friday by EU. PHOTO/COURTESY

The European Union (EU) has announced sanctions against Ahmad Mahmood Hassan, the top commander of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group over the recent attack on Lhubiriha Secondary School in Kasese District, southwestern Uganda.

Mahmood Hassan aka Abu Waqas aka Jundi aka Muwarabu was pinned to be the mastermind behind the attack on the school in Mpondwe near the Uganda-DRC border which left 44 people, mainly students killed.

“Ahmad Mahmood Hassan is a senior leader of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a non-governmental armed group operating in Uganda and the Eastern DRC,” the EU noted, “He has been identified as holding key responsibilities in the ADF, including command of a camp, training of recruits, production of bombs, online outreach and rapprochement with ISIL (Da’esh),” the EU said in the sanctions announced over the weekend.

“Owing to his senior leading position within the ADF and his direct involvement in the planning and conduct of ADF attacks, Ahmad Mahmood Hassan is therefore involved in planning, directing or committing acts that constitute serious human rights violations or abuses in the DRC,” the EU statement emphasised.

According to the EU Statement, the man at the centre of directing the bombings is a Tanzanian national Hassan whose particulars it added to its list of sanctioned entities and individuals pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1183/2005.

It remains unclear how the sanctions will affect the targeted individual who mainly operates from the dense forests of the Eastern DRC.

Meanwhile, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, the spokesperson of UPDF welcome the sanctions and said whereas ADF as a terrorist group is internationally-sanctioned, targeting some of its top commanders such as Hassan for punishment would limit their mobility and likely choke financial flows to the outfit.

“[The impact of the sanctions] would depend on whether he (Hassan) is the funder of the organisation or not,” Brig Kulayigye said of the Tanzanian national that the EU accuses of training suicide bombers and directing recent ADF terrorist attacks, most notably in Beni and North Kivu provinces.

According to the EU, Hassan was “involved in planning, directing or committing acts that constitute serious human rights violations or abuses in the DRC. He is also responsible for sustaining the armed conflict, instability and insecurity in the DRC.”

Some of the attacks in DRC happened in January and April in Kasindi and Goma, respectively.

About the ADF

The ADF started out in 1989 as a Ugandan rebel group based in the western part of the country from where the UPDF dislodged it into the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The group is accused of conscripting and indiscriminately killing civilians and conducting a string of attacks inside the DRC and Uganda using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) while spreading terror.

What Next

It now remains unclear how the sanctions will affect the targeted individual who mainly operates from the dense forests of Eastern DRC.

However, experts say the EU can use the sanctions levelled against the terrorist commander as basis for restrictive measures against persons, entities or bodies that provide support to ADF in sustaining the armed conflict, instability or insecurity in the DRC.

In short, any entity or person or government found to provide any form of support to Jundi or ADF can face sanctions including having their assets frozen, visa ban, trade restrictions and arms embargo among others.

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