War on Terror: U.S. In Africa, Uganda In Somalia, al Shabaab In Uganda
KPFA Weekend News, 05.28.2011: Human rights activist and Black Star News contributor Michael Kirkpatrick on Major General Kale Kayihura’s warning to Ugandan opposition leaders–that al Shabaab terrorists may be in country to assassinate them.
KPFA Weekend News Host: Ugandan Police have warned opposition leaders that Somali-based Al-Shabaab terrorists may try to assassinate them. Opposition leaders responded that they’re being terrorized by Ugandan President Yower Museveni himself, and, international observers and journalists pointed out that Al-Shabaab’s most logical target is also President Museveni. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Last week Ugandan authorities arrested four organizers of the country’s ongoing protests against soaring food and fuel prices and charged them with terrorism, for which they could hang. This week Ugandan Police boss Major General Kale Kayihura warned Ugandan opposition leaders that Somali-based al-Shabaab terrorists were in the country to assassinate prominent political leaders, meaning most of them. Olara Otunnu, Uganda People’s Congress leader and former UN Under Secretary and Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, responded that the opposition is indeed concerned about terror, because they’re being terrorized by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Police Inspector Major General Kayihura. “We cannot discuss al-Shabaab when we have terror here,” Mr Otunnu said.
American human rights activist and Black Star News contributor Michael Kirkpatrick, who has traveled back and forth to Uganda since 1998, says it’s ludicrous for Major General Kayihura to warn opposition leaders that Al-Shaabab terrorists might assassinate them after his police force have repeatedly arrested and brutalized them and other peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators during the past six weeks:
Michael Kirkpatrick: The threat of Al-Shabaab to the opposition leaders in Uganda is preposterous. The real danger to the people of Uganda is from its own government and military. Recent peaceful demonstrations resulted in the deaths of at least 10 Ugandans, including a two-year old baby girl, hundreds of injuries, and the arrests of over 1000 people. Many of those arrested are still incarcerated without being charged with any crime.
KPFA: Some observers have suggested that this could be an excuse for tailing and intimidating all the opposition leaders even more closely, maybe even assassinating them and then saying “Al-Shabaab did it.” Is that credible?
Michael Kirkpatrick in Uganda. Michael Kirkpatrick: By mentioning Al-Shebaab, the Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni and his NRM government are trying to strike fear into demonstrators and protestors in order to get them to distance themselves from opposition leaders. This is another example of Museveni using a fringe group of criminals to blame for any acts of violence or bloodshed. It’s the same tactic he has used for over 20 years with the Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader Joseph Kony in the northern part of Uganda. It’s a way for him to divert attention from his own transgressions and atrocities.
KPFA: Do you think this could also be a move to make government surveillance of look like a benevolent gesture to the opposition, as well as an act of further collaboration in the U.S. War on Terror?
Michael Kirkpatrick: Well, Museveni is a key ally in Africa in the so-called “War on Terror”. By using the threat of Al-Shebaab to attack Ugandan citizens, Uganda will get the necessary assistance from the United States. That includes money and military. I wouldn’t be surprised if US officials came up with this idea to further justify the US presence in Uganda and in other parts of Africa.
KPFA: And why does Museveni himself seem like a more logical target for Al-Shabaab than Ugandan opposition leaders?
Michael Kirkpatrick: Well, Al-Shabaab took responsibility for the July 2010 bombings in Kampala during the World Cup final that killed 74 and injured 70 people, including Americans. Al-Shabaab is a Somalia based organization that is very angry with the Ugandan government for having thousands of its troops in Somalia. The United States is fighting a proxy war in Somalia and they’re using troops from Uganda and Burundi. The Al-Shabaab threat is to the Ugandan government, not the Ugandan opposition leaders.
KPFA: Michael Kirkpatrick, thank you for speaking to KPFA.
Michael Kirkpatrick: Thank you! I’d also like to thank everyone who supported KPFA in this fund drive you just finished. There are only a few media outlets in the whole country covering stories like this. It’s important for Americans to know how their taxpayer money is being used by our government, in places like Uganda to support dictators like Yoweri Museveni.
KPFA: If you like what you’re hearing, it’s still possible to support KPFA online, and anytime, at kpfa.org. For Pacifica, KPFA, and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.
by Ann Garrison
San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News, the Newsline EA (East Africa) and her own blog, Ann Garrison, and produces forAfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, Weekend Newson KPFA and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.