Allied Democratic Forces

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Allied Democratic Forces
Active 1996-Present
Allies Al-Shabaab
Opponents  Uganda

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is a rebel group opposed to the Ugandan government and is considered a terrorist organisation.[1] It is based in western Uganda with rear bases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It began as a minor group in the forested Ruwenzori mountain range along the border in 1996, but expanded its activities over the next several years. As of 2004, the ADF had been largely destroyed by the Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF). Remnants fled to Eastern DRC where they established camps in Mwalika, Bundiguya and Eringeti areas. In February and March 2014 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Government Forces reportedly launched operations against ADF-NALU in Beni. The UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) was expected to support the offensive aimed at neutralizing these rebels, who had been very active in this zone.[2] The Alliance of Democratic Forces is made up of Islamist sects and Ugandan opposition forces, supported by the Government of Sudan, which fought the Government of Uganda.[3] [4]


The ADF was formed by puritanical Muslim Ugandans of the Tabliq sect who merged with the remnants of another rebel group, the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda.[citation needed] The main figure of the group was Jamil Mukulu, a former Catholic who converted to Islam. The members were largely from central Uganda, in particular Iganga, Masaka and Kampala, and portray themselves as religious crusaders. Beyond this vaguely stated religious ideology and statements that the government discriminates against Tabliqs, the ADF has given few coherent rationales for their insurgency. The ADF chose western Uganda apparently for three reasons: terrain that is ideal for a rural insurgency, proximity to the DRC where the rebels could set up bases and recruit fighters, and the presence of some Ugandan ethnic groups unfriendly to the government that could offer assistance.


During civil war[edit]

While the ADF carried on occasional attacks in 1996, they were largely ignored by the government. This changed in 1997 when the rebels sharply increased the number of attacks. Most were aimed at soft targets, such as camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and small villages, though an ambush of UPDF soldiers in Kasese district raised eyebrows. The number of incidents increased in 1998, a fact that some people blame on the lack of UPDF alpine units to track and fight the rebels in the mountains. A number of bomb blasts markets and restaurants in Kampala and elsewhere were blamed on the ADF. In the west, hundreds of civilians were murdered, large numbers of land mines were laid, attacks were made on civilian, police and UPDF locations. The number of IDPs rose to over 80,000. In February 1998, 30 students were abducted from a college in Kasese, while in June 80 college students were burned alive after they barricaded themselves in their dormitory to keep the ADF rebels out. The abduction of youth, as well as numerous acts of brutality, led many to compare it to the Lord's Resistance Army activities in the north of the country.

In 1999 the government gained the upper hand, forcing the ADF from their bases and into small bands that had to constantly move to escape UPDF forces. The government claims that their military presence, and the presence of Ugandan-backed proxy forces in the DRC, was vital in attacking these bases and cutting off supply lines. Despite this, the ADF gained a large number of weapons and some military training. The UPDF blamed the government of Sudan for supporting the ADF in retaliation for Ugandan support for the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Other government officials suggested that DRC President Laurent Kabila was arming the ADF through the Hutu ex-FAR/Interahamwe armed groups fighting in eastern Congo as part of his efforts to expel the foreign forces. The ADF was cooperating with the various Kabila-allied forces operating in the region.

While fighting continued into 2000 and there have been sporadic attacks, the UPDF was largely successful in destroying the insurgency and securing the Ugandan conflict areas. A small ADF remnant remained in eastern Congo as of December 2004. In December 2005, UN and Congolese troops launched the Operation North Night Final, in order to destroy the rebel group and bring peace to the troubled Ituri district.


Main article: ADF insurgency

2007 to 2008[edit]

During March 2007, the UPDF engaged incursive ADF groups in multiple firefights, killing at least 46 in Bundibugyo and Mubende districts. The biggest battle occurred on March 27, when the UPDF faced an estimated 60 ADF troops and killed 34, including three senior commanders. The UPDF claimed to have retrieved numerous weapons as well as documents that tie the ADF to the LRA.[5]

On April 13, 2007, the UPDF and ADF engaged in an intense battle inside the Semuliki National Park, near the upscale Semliki Lodge tourist destination.[6]

Ceasefire and amnesty talks between the government of Uganda and the ADF were held in Nairobi starting in May 2008. Negotiations were complicated by the fragmentation of the ADF's leadership.[7] Non-combatant dependents of the ADF were repatriated to Uganda by the IOM. At least 48 ADF fighters surrendered and were given amnesty.[8] As the threat from the LRA in the DRC waned, the UPDF put increasing focus on the ADF as a reason for UPDF personnel to remain in the DRC.[9]

2013 resurgence[edit]

In April 2013, it was reported that ADF started a recruitment campaign in Kampala and other parts of the country.[10] Citing a defector from ADF, "allAfrica" reported that some 10 new recruits joined ADF forces every day.[10]

In July 2013 the ADF renewed its fighting in the Congolese district of Beni. According to the UN Radio Okapi, the ADF together with the NALU, fought a pitched battle with the FARD, briefly taking the towns of Mamundioma and Totolito.[11] On July 11, the ADF attacked the town of Kamango, triggering the flight of over 60,000 refugees across the border into the Ugandan district of Bundibugyo.[12]

Early in September 2013, regional leaders under the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) asked the recently formed combative Intervention Brigade under MONUSCO to attack positions of foreign negative forces operating in DRC, including the ADF.[13] In late September 2013, 3 people were killed and 30 abducted during an ADF attack in the Watalinga Sector, North Kivu, DR Congo.[13] Omar Kavota, the vice president and spokesman of the local civil society in North Kivu condemned the abductions. According to the civil society, the abductees also included eight minors.

Foreign involvement[edit]

The DRC government, citing civil society groups in North Kivu, claims that Al-Shabaab fighters from Somalia are collaborating with the ADF.[14]


  1. ^ Jasmine Opperman. "Ugandas rising threat adf". Retrieved 2014-10-20. 
  2. ^ Katombe, Kenny (2014-01-17). "Congo army attacks Ugandan Islamist rebels in lawless east". Reuters. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  3. ^ John Pike. "Allied Democratic Forces". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  4. ^ Jasmine Opperman. "Ugandas rising threat adf". Retrieved 2014-10-20. 
  5. ^ Wikileaks Cable: Government Demands Action Against Ugandan Rebels In Congo. Embassy Kampala (Uganda): Wikileaks. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  6. ^ Wikileaks Cable: Uganda: Adf Clash With Updf Near Tourist Lodge. Embassy Kampala (Uganda): Wikileaks. 2007-04-17. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  7. ^ Wikileaks Cable: Nugandan Government Negotiations With Allied Democratic Forces. Embassy Kampala (Uganda): Wikileaks. 2008-05-16. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  8. ^ Wikileaks Cable: Uganda: 2009 Country Reports On Terrorism. Embassy Kampala (Uganda): Wikileaks. 2009-12-21. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  9. ^ Wikileaks Cable: Uganda: Dagne Staffdel Meetings With Mfa And Defense Ministry. Embassy Kampala (Uganda): Wikileaks. 2009-11-17. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  10. ^ a b Candia, Steven (2013-04-11). "Uganda: Allied Democratic Forces Recruiting in Kampala, Says Defector (Page 1 of 2)". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  11. ^ Kambale, Juakali (2 July 2013). "16 killed in clash between DRC army and Ugandan militias". Africa Review. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Rebels Drive More Than 60,000 From Congo to Uganda". New York Times. AP. 14 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  13. ^ a b newvision (2013-09-26). "ADF kill three in DR Congo". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  14. ^ Yang, Fang (5 July 2013). "DR Congo gov't denounces Al-Shabaab presence in North Kivu". Xinhua. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 

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