Director Generals from the intelligence agencies of various great lakes countries under the Regional Coordination Committee of the International Conference on Great Lakes Region have started met in Kampala to discuss key security threats affecting the region.
However, among the key issues that the spy chiefs will discuss include the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that is said to have entered the region in a bid to establish itself.
According to the Director General, External Security Organisation Joseph Ochwet, the region is currently facing a number of threats including terrorism and other armed groups among others that are threatening security and stability in the region.
“The continued presence of these groups remains a menace to peace and stability of the region and it is time to critically discuss how these negative forces can be eliminated,” Ochwet said during the opening ceremony at Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo on Wednesday.
“We need to free our people so they can enjoy dignified lives.”
Amb. Zachary Muburi- Muita, the Executive Secretary for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region said international terrorism is such a big problem that needs to be tackled from all angles.
He said areas like the thick Democratic Republic of Congo forests where the sitting government does have total control need to be kept free from terrorists.
“We need to deny haven to these international terrorist groups or else they will have bases from where they will cause mayhem in the region,”Muburi- Mutia said.
He noted that a regional counter terrorism strategy which is currently at the convention stage has been put in place to combat international terrorism threats like one posed by ISIS.
In an interview with the Nile Post, the Chief of Defence Forces in the UPDF, Gen. David Muhoozi confirmed ISIS is trying to establish itself in the region.
“We have intelligence that they (ISIS) are trying to establish footholds in one of the neighboring countries and it is a signal for us to tackle the menace,”Gen.Muhoozi said.
Last month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Democratic Republic of Congo in which several people died.
The attack on April 16 at a Congolese army base near the border with Uganda saw over five soldiers killed.
The attack was at first thought to have been carried out by Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan terrorist group but ISIS in a statement according to the SITE Intelligence group which monitors terrorist groups, claimed responsibility saying their ‘Central Africa Province of the Caliphate ’ affiliate as the one that orchestrated the attack.
It was the first time that the Islamic State has asserted responsibility for an attack in Congo.
Regional intelligence chiefs wary ISIS might join ranks with ADF which is operating in the volatile eastern DRC region.
Uganda’s Internal Security Organisation (ISO) last month issued an alert over three people suspected to be members of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIS) operating in the region could enter the country with an aim of carrying out attacks.
“The under listed persons are suspected to be terrorists operating in the region and could enter Uganda to carry out attacks. Anyone with information about them should report to ISO, Police or any other security agency,” read in part the alert by ISO.
The security agency displayed photos of three suspected terrorists but were able to identify only one Rashidi Abdul Tawab, an Afghan national.