The deputy director of counter-terrorism in the Uganda Police Force, David Wasswa, says that Busoga sub-region still tops the list of vulnerable spaces for terrorism recruitment in the country.
While addressing journalists at the sidelines of their three-day sensitization drive for rallying largely Muslim clerics to reject terrorism activities, Wasswa argues that most of the ex-terrorism combatants intercepted from the Allied Democratic Forces-ADF camps in DRC have direct roots in the districts of Mayuge, Bugweri, Namayingo, Jinja, Kamuli and Bugiri.
He says that the unsuspecting recruits who are largely juveniles between the ages of five and 10 are indoctrinated and radicalized to participate in violent, extremism-related activities, in the guise of fighting a holy war called “Jihad,” only to realize that their leaders are pursuing their own selfish gains.
Wasswa says that their findings indicate that much as several terrorist organizations concentrate their recruitment targets among vulnerable Muslim communities in Busoga sub-region, some deliberately adopt Islamic names with an aim of using religion to seek local sympathy and easily conduct their extremism activities undetected.
Wasswa notes that most ex-terrorism combatants rarely reveal the aspirations aroused for their recruitment however, several of them confess to having been picked to engage in terrorism activities at tender ages through madrasa schools.
He says that several intercepted teenagers and youths also confess that after radicalization, their team leaders provide glaring hopes of bettering their individual family livelihoods through scholarships and startup capital, which largely lures some parents into giving away their children to terrorists.
For his part, Col. Benson Mande, the Internal Security Organization-ISO’s lead investigator in terrorism-related activities says that these sensitization drives are aimed at tipping vulnerable communities, on how to easily detect and concurrently liaise with law enforcement agencies to break underground violent extremism recruitment cells.