A U.N. Security Council committee blacklisted Ugandan Islamist group, the Allied Democratic Forces, on Monday for recruitment and use of child soldiers, killing, maiming and sexually abusing women and children, and attacks on U.N. peacekeepers.
Council diplomats said the group, which has been sheltering in volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the mid-’90s, would now be subjected to an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban under the United Nations sanctions regime imposed on Congo.
The group’s leader, Jamil Mukulu, has been subjected to targeted U.N. sanctions since 2011. Uganda’s military said in April that Mukulu had fled Congo to another state after a U.N.-backed offensive destroyed several ADF camps.
The ADF – also known as the ADF-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda – was created to fight the Ugandan government, but was forced across the border into Congo. U.N. officials estimate it to have between 1,200 and 1,400 fighters.
The Ugandan government says the ADF is allied to elements of Somalia’s al Shabaab movement, an al Qaeda-linked group whose name means “The Lads” in Arabic.
A task force set up by the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo late last year to find out more about the ADF – and how it could be tackled – said the group’s financing and access to weapons, ammunition and supplies needed to be cut off.
The ADF gets most of its money from the timber industry and gold, which is smuggled into Uganda and sold, U.N. experts say.
The U.N. task force said the ADF recruited children through mosques in eastern Congo and reportedly Uganda and Tanzania with false promises of jobs, English lessons and other inducements, while another source of recruitment is kidnappings.
Congolese officials hold the ADF responsible for the killing of at least 21 people, including women and a baby, in villages near Beni in North Kivu province in December.
The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, has described the ADF as “one of the oldest but least known armed groups … and the only one in the area to be considered an Islamist terrorist organization.”