Australian terrorist suspect disappears in military intelligence detention in Uganda

Hashi Hussein Farah and “a dozen others”, were arrested by the Joint Anti-terrorism Taskforce (JATT) in Kisenyi slum in the capital Kampala, Uganda, allegedly on the 1st of April. He was paraded on television later in the evening. The terror suspects were taken away by the anti-terrorism squad for further interrogation to an unknown place of detention. Today, NTV Uganda said that 8 Al Shabaab suspects were released. It was unclear whether Farah was one of the persons, and if now all suspects had been released. Earlier NTV had reported that “7 Somali nationals suspected to be linked to al-Shabaab were arrested in Kampala”, and were “in Old Kampala police station”, “undergoing intense interrogation”.

The Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba declined to comment, saying the police did not arrest Farah. She referred The Ugandan Independent newspaper to JATT, a military intelligence squad, which carried out the arrest. However the Army Spokesman Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye declined to divulge details about Hussein Farah, on account that it would jeopardise investigations. He said Farah’s arrest is part of a wider investigation. He did not say where Farah was being detained.

Farah, who has an Australian passport, was first arrested by the Kenyan police on March 13, 2010 as he was trying to cross Uganda’s Busia border into Kenya.

The Kenyan police released him hours later under unclear circumstances that suggested the police took a bribe from him for his ransom. Shortly after his release, upon checking his names and identity on the international security network, it was discovered he had been on the international list of wanted terrorists. He was wanted by the Australian police for masterminding a plot to attack the Holsworthy army base in August 2009. Australian Federal Police would neither confirm nor deny that Farah was wanted.

After his “escape” on the 13th of March, it was alleged last week that Farah was back into Uganda. But the Army spokesman refuted on the 23d of March the claims that Farah was in Uganda. It is not known where Farah was between the 13th of March and the 1st of April.

JATT’s practices of secret detention

Last year Human Rights Watch issued a report which documented the JATT’s abusive response to alleged rebel and terrorist activity by unlawfully detaining and brutally torturing suspects. Human Rights Watch found that over the past two years, the unit illegally detained more than 100 people and tortured at least 25 during interrogations.

Link with Australia

In Australia four Victorian men charged over the same alleged plot will stand trial in Melbourne.

Saney Edow Aweys, Yacqub Khayre, Abdirahmin Mohamud Ahmed, and Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, have pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges.

A fifth man also facing charges over the alleged plot, Nayef El Sayed, will face a contested committal hearing in May.

Al Shabaab’s position towards Uganda
The group which is fighting the Somali Transitional Federal Government is opposed to Uganda’s deployment of peacekeepers in the Somali capital Mogadishu. According to a source of NTV, “al-Shabaab may have opened up three training camps, two in the eastern Ugandan district of Jinja and one in Kisenyi. Street children in Kampala are also being recruited and sent abroad for training”