Uganda seeks return of 'extremist' suspects from Mozambique

2019-01-31 21:16
Uganda (iStock)

Uganda (iStock)

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Ugandan authorities on Thursday said they were planning to seek the extradition of six suspected Islamist extremists being held in Mozambique.

The announcement came two days after Mozambican police said they had arrested three Ugandans, claiming they were senior figures in a radical Islamist organisation behind attacks in the country's gas-rich northern Cabo Delgado province.

Another three were already in custody, Uganda police spokesperson Fred Enanga said.

"We've been working together with the Mozambique government and we understand they have arrested a number of suspects," Enanga said.

Through the foreign ministry, Kampala had expressed "an interest in six of them" who would be brought back to face charges at home, he said.

Uganda does not have an extradition treaty with Mozambique.

One of the suspects was Abdul Rahman Faisal, who said he had nothing to do with the Cabo Delgado attacks, but claimed he belonged to "Al-Shabaab in Uganda" - in an apparent reference to the Somali Islamist militant group which has no known links to the ongoing insurgency in Mozambique.

But he claimed he had nothing to do with the Cabo Delgado attacks.

Enanga said Al Shabaab did not have any cells in Uganda but explained that Faisal and several others were wanted by Ugandan police in connection with an extremist mosque in central Kampala that was raided by police in April 2018.

During the raid, police found weapons and more than 100 women being held against their will along with children who were being "recruited and radicalised into acts of extremism".

"Some people managed to escape the raid and some of them are among the suspects arrested in Mozambique," Enanga told AFP.

"Abdul Rahman was one of those suspects."

Separately, Hassan Kiberu, a local council official in Kampala, described Faisal as head of the Usafi mosque, a rundown collection of ramshackle buildings in the middle of the city.

Described as a "radicalisation centre", the mosque was home to "extremists", police told AFP.

Uganda has taken a hard line against suspected Islamist extremists since a series of deadly suicide bombings in 2010 targeted football fans watching the World Cup final in Kampala.

Somalia's Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for those attacks.

According to the International Crisis Group, Shabaab has struggled to establish itself in Uganda - unlike in neighbouring countries.

However, the group warned in a report last year that disaffected youth could turn to militancy if Ugandan security forces continue to "mistreat Muslims".

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Read more on:    al shabaab  |  somalia  |  uganda  |  mozambique  |  east africa
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