Uganda

Overview:  There were three terrorist incidents in Uganda in 2022, with the worst of these resulting in three to 12 civilian casualties.  Ugandan security forces arrested numerous ISIS-Democratic Republic of the Congo members, including the leader of the cell responsible for the November 2021 bombings in Kampala, and prevented several attack plots from coming to fruition.  In August, the Ugandan Parliament passed its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) amendments to seven existing laws, leading to an improved rating from FATF.  The Government of Uganda (GOU) officially approved the National Strategy for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in February; however, as of December it had not been released to the public.  The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) continued its joint operation with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to combat ISIS-DRC in the eastern DRC.  Uganda also continued its role as the top troop-contributing country to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), an AU-led and UN-authorized effort to reduce the threat posed by al-Shabaab in Somalia, among other aspects of ATMIS’s mandate.  The GOU remains a capable partner in countering violent extremism, although human rights concerns still exist within some security services.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  The following two incidents are examples of the most significant attacks:

  • On April 17 and April 23, two IEDs detonated near the Kampala-Masaka Highway in southwest Uganda, resulting in vehicle damage but no casualties.  No terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Ugandan security services suspected ISIS-DRC.
  • On December 13, as many as 50 ISIS-DRC fighters of Congolese and Ugandan origin crossed the Semliki River in western Uganda and attacked two villages with guns.  Various sources reported that from three to 12 civilians were injured or killed in the attack.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  There have been no changes to legislation, law enforcement capacity, or border security since 2021.  During 2022, security services prevented several attack plots from materializing and arrested several ISIS-DRC operatives.

Jamal Kiyemba, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay from 2002 until 2006 and an imam at a mosque in Wakiso District outside Kampala, was arrested in January, after allegedly joining ISIS-DRC and rallying support for the group in Kampala.  On May 16, Kiyemba was charged with one count of belonging to a terrorist organization, which he denied.  His trial has been repeatedly postponed.

On March 15, Ugandan security forces arrested Kabanda Abdallah Musa (aka Mogo), the leader of an ISIS-DRC cell allegedly involved in the November 2021 bombings in Kampala, as well as other operatives allegedly involved in building a vehicle-borne IED.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Uganda is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group.  Its FIU, the Financial Intelligence Authority, is a member of the Egmont Group.  Uganda remained on the FATF “gray list” in 2022.

In 2022, FATF reported Uganda demonstrated progress toward strengthening the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime, including conducting terrorist financing (TF) investigations and prosecutions, and completing the money laundering (ML) and TF risk assessment of legal persons and arrangements.  In August, as mentioned above, the Ugandan Parliament passed AML/CFT amendments to seven existing laws.  The bills’ provisions addressed deficiencies in Uganda’s AML/CFT legal framework by identifying beneficial owners; requiring the designation of accountable individuals to assess and monitor ML, TF, and proliferation financing risks; and empowering the FIU and other authorities to levy administrative penalties to include targeted financial sanctions to prevent, suppress, and disrupt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  These amendments contributed to significant overall progress made in resolving technical compliance shortcomings identified in its mutual evaluation report.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The GOU officially approved the National Strategy for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in February; however, as of December it had not been released to the public because of intra-government wrangling over the communications strategy.  Government funding for rehabilitation and reintegration of defectors from ISIS-DRC remained extremely limited, and even defectors who have received amnesty faced harassment from security services.  NGOs working in the rehabilitation or prevention spaces reported scrutiny and even obstruction from security services.  The GOU has a draft strategy for preventing CVE communications developed with United Kingdom assistance.

International and Regional CT Cooperation:  Operation Shujaa, the UPDF’s joint operation with the Armed Forces of the DRC to combat ISIS-DRC continued throughout 2022.  Uganda continued to be the largest troop-contributing country to ATMIS in 2022, with close to 6,000 personnel, and was responsible for Somalia’s Sector 1 — which includes the Mogadishu airport — the region that has suffered the largest number of al-Shabaab attacks, especially from IEDs.

On This Page

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future