Kampala – In the renewed war against terror, security has re-adopted the 2002 ‘Operation Wembley’ method in which security personnel will shoot to kill suspected terrorists on sight.
This time, just like Operation Wembley, the team against terror which has been formed in the wake of the June 1st Gen Katumba Wamala shooting is made up of a joint security team formed from the intelligence services, police and the army.
The method had also been re-adopted by the police in 2013 to crackdown suspects who were allegedly involved in violent crimes like highway robbery, murder, theft of cash among others.
The method being condemned by human rights activists is supposed to counter terrorists, especially ADF elements who have cells all over the country. This explains why some suspects in the Gen Katumba attack have since been gunned down.
The new operation follows outcries by President Museveni on how to handle terror suspects. While commenting on Gen. Katumba attack, President Museveni said the guard could have done much better. Museveni was disappointed that the guard shot in the air instead of flesh.
“…the bodyguard should not have shot in the air. He should have shot to kill. We could be having a dead terrorist instead of scaring away the terrorists. His shooting saved Gen. Katumba by scaring the criminals away. However, killing one or more of the terrorists would have done the same and more,” he said.
During his State of the Nation address delivered to MPs at Kololo Independence grounds on June 4th, the president again without mincing words warned that security personnel will be prompted to shoot and kill terror suspects to help reduce the rotation and circulation of the same in the country since this will break their back.
Katumba’s attack followed several high-profile killings by armed gunmen riding on motorcycles. On September 8, 2018, former Buyende district police commander (DPC) Muhammad Kirumira and a female friend Resty Mbabazi Nalinnya were gunned down near his home in Bulenga.
Earlier on March 17, 2017, unknown gunmen shot dead the former police spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, his bodyguard, Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Mambewa. The trio was gunned down, a few meters from Kaweesi’s home in Kulambiro in Kisaasi, a Kampala suburb.
Kaweesi’s assassination followed the murder of former state prosecutor, Joan Kagezi in 2015 and Maj Muhammad Kiggundu in 2016 in a similar style. In June 2018, unidentified assailants also gunned down the then Arua Municipality member of parliament, Ibrahim Abiriga.
Other people killed in a similar manner include Sheikh Abdul Karim Ssentamu, Hassan Ibrahim Kirya, the former Kibuli spokesperson, Mustafa Bahiga, the former Kampala district Amir, Dr. Abdulqadir Muwaya, the former top Shia cleric in Uganda and Sheikh Abdulrashid Wafula, the former Imam Bilal Mosque in Mbale town.
Museveni said although suspects had been arrested for all these murders, they were released by courts, something he said doesn’t agree with. Museveni promised to have a talk with the chief justice about the release of murder suspects on bail else they will resort to killing them on spot.
“…And a number of them [suspects] were arrested but they were released by the courts on bail. Why would somebody who has killed people be released on bail? I cannot understand. Bail for what?! So his lordship, the chief justice is here, I will get the time and we will talk but we can’t really watch as these people turn our army into a criminal army. If we keep arresting them and you release them, we shall be killing them [and say] he tried to run away and we killed him, he will not be around to tell the story,” Museveni said.
Sources say it is on this premise that most of the terror suspects will never see courtrooms again.