Systematic murder of Muslim clerics in Uganda - Al Jazeera documentary

Ivan Okuda and Sorious Samura

The third season of Al Jazeera's award-winning Africa Investigates series continued this week with Uganda: Living In Fear, an investigation into the brutal murders of 12 Muslim clerics in three years in Uganda.

"Of the 12 killed since 2012, all but two were shot, usually in the evening between 8 and 10 o'clock," says Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody winner Sorious Samura, who teamed up with Ugandan journalist Ivan Okuda on the investigation. "The attackers arrive on motorcycles, kill with two to five shots, then disappear. Friends, family and bystanders are usually left unscathed. The consistency of the crime signature seems to indicate a systematic plan."

So far, no one has been convicted of these killings. Police have charged Sheikh Yunus Kamoga, the leader of a Muslim sect called the Tabliq, and seven of his followers, with two murders and the attempted murder of a third sheikh in January.

These charges include the December 2014 murder of Sheikh Mustapha Bahiga. Bahiga's family says that, on his deathbed, he blamed his murder on Kamoga.

Bahiga's name also appeared on a leaflet given out at a Tabliq mosque shortly before the recent killings started. The leaflet named sheikhs it accused of betraying Muslims by spying for the state or by financial corruption. Three of those named have been attacked since, two fatally, which has led some to see the leaflets as a hit list. But while nine of the 12 dead are Tabliq, other sheikhs have died, too, and not all of them were part of this conflict between Tabliqs in the capital city. One of the other victims, for example, was a leader of Uganda's Shia community.

The government claims that Kamoga and his co-accused were working for an Islamist insurgent group called the ADF. The ADF have been based in the Congo for 15 years and have not attacked Ugandan soil for almost ten.

Uganda: Living in Fear exposes a lot that doesn't add up about the official explanation of ADF's role in the killings, from a Christian surgeon in Australia accused of being an Islamist terrorist, to a Muslim leader wanted for being an Israeli agent, to an illiterate villager charged with being an internationally-trained assassin. A former ADF leader denies their involvement in these murders, while, contrary to the police report, only a quarter of the suspects are listed in the official database of ADF returnees who came back to civilian life through a government-run amnesty programme.

Although the Ugandan government has assigned personal protection to a number of sheikhs, Haruna Kanabi, a Muslim journalist and member of Uganda's Independent Media Committee, believes the government may be targeting the Tabliq sect because they think it is too radical.

"It is difficult to say who is killing the sheikhs, or even whether it is the result of a single master plan," says Sorious. "If those currently arrested for the crimes are to be believed, they have been framed by a government that has a known record of illegal and prolonged detention and harassment of Muslims. The government, for its part, has not only failed to protect the Muslim clerics, but as our investigation has revealed, it has failed to present a credible case against those it accuses of perpetrating the crimes - namely the Islamist terror group, the ADF."

Africa Investigates is a groundbreaking Al Jazeera series that gives some of Africa's best journalists the opportunity to pursue high-level investigative targets across the continent - using their unique perspective and local knowledge to put corruption, exploitation and abuse under the spotlight. Previous documentaries in the series have won One World Media and Mohamed Amin Africa Media awards.

Uganda: Living In Fear repeats on Al Jazeera English on 27 November 2015 at 04:30, 28 November at 17:30, and 29 November at 06:30 CAT.

Watch and embed the promo at and the full documentary below.

For more information, visit


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