Rwanda: Israel NSO company boosts Intelligence spy network capacity

By Mohammed M.Mupenda*

We have no problem; we spy like other countries do and personally I spend a lot of money on it,says President Kagame
We have no problem; we spy like other countries do and personally I spend a lot of money on it,says President Kagame

What can you do if you wake up and find yourself in the hands of your enemy or whoever you believed could be a threat to you? This is the trend by Rwanda’s spy network that has disrupted many plans of opponents operating in and out of the country.

The tiny central African country has always been accused of cracking down the opponents and spending much money on spying those living in different countries including neighbouring Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Kenya, according to different sources and media reports, citing examples of many people who have been disturbed, warned or surprisingly found themselves in Rwanda.

This was no doubt as, in 2019, President Paul Kagame accepted that during a press conference and even went further to say that the country could be using an excessive budget.

“We have no problem; we spy like other countries do and personally I spend a lot of money on it.”

Many allies believe that Rwanda spy and intelligence network has done great work on having their so-called enemies extracted, killed and arrested or found themselves in a country. This has however been questioned by many opposition activists in a country and abroad. Human rights watch and Amnesty International have never ceased raising red flag on the ongoing crackdown, killing and arresting of opponents.

A number of people have been arrested and charged with terrorism under what observers call injustice and targeting opponents to silence them but in most times it happens with justifiable reason by Kigali government,  in that spy network has already established and gathered information that could be a threat to the country’s security and peace for citizens.

When Callixte Nsabimana a.k.a Sankara was arrested in Comoros, it is said that the country was stalking him through pegus app following up the chats between him and other opponents; in fact, every country he was living and operating from, Rwanda knew it, thanks to Pegus, an Israel NSO  group’s application that has helped on tracking all whatsapp and other social media communications.

Rwanda went ahead and crossed continent to make sure the opponents are weakened or warned. In fact, many of them have often claimed they live in fear of being kidnapped by Rwanda’s secret service operatives.

Australia has pointed out that Rwanda spy network infiltrated the country as reported by ABC News last year.

Earlier this year, British citizen Faustin Rukundo’s phone started to ring at odd times. The calls were always on WhatsApp — sometimes from a Scandinavian number, sometimes a video call — but the caller would hang-up before he could answer.

Whenever he rang back, no one would pick up. Mr Rukundo who lives in Leeds, had reasons to be suspicious because, he is a member of a Rwandan opposition group operating in exile; he has lived for several years in fear of the security services of the central African nation where he was born.

In 2017, his wife, also a British national, was arrested and held for two months in Rwanda when she returned for her father’s funeral. Unidentified men in black suits have previously queried her co-workers about her route to the childcare centre where she works, he says.

His own name has shown up in a widely circulated list of enemies of the government of Rwanda titled “Those who must be killed immediately”.

In the two decades since Paul Kagame became president of Rwanda, dozens of dissidents have disappeared or died in unclear circumstances around the world.

In response, those willing to criticise the regime or organise against it, such as Mr Rukundo, say they have learnt to be cautious, masking their presence on the internet and using encrypted messaging services

Kagame has often warned his critics that those who “betray” the country will be dealt with, and the country’s intelligence network has been accused by international human rights groups of abducting and killing former allies in Rwanda and abroad. The Rwandan government has always rejected the allegations.

Patrick Karegeya was strangled in South Africa and Rwanda regime was pointed out as the perpetrator, which prompted feud between the two countries.

Reliable intelligence states that the Rwandan government poses an imminent threat to your life,” read the police warning notice given to Rene Mugenzi. “You should be aware of other high-profile cases where action such as this has been conducted in the past. Conventional and unconventional means have been used.”

It is said that as immigrants and refugees move to England, many other countries work closely with agencies to have spies infiltrate to monitor the activities for those relocated if they are safe to the countries they are from and that is including Rwanda.

For your records, Rwanda-Uganda relations have been in a row for almost two years now. And this is due to espionage accusations that are stalling the talks between two countries that angered Uganda but of course, Rwanda was trying to protect its interest after learning that the most fearful RNC party could be operating in Uganda and recruiting members who will one day go and oust Rwanda’s strongman.

Pastor Nyirigira of Agape Community in Uganda was among those who were followed up closely and disrupted in all actions he was planning against Rwanda as a member of the Rwanda National Congress. His daughter was recently held in Kigali by police on similar accusations, according to Rwanda Investigation Bureau.

Paul Rusesabagina , a well known government critic is now standing trial in Rwanda
Paul Rusesabagina , a well known government critic is now standing trial in Rwanda

Paul Rusesabagina from humanitarian to a government critic was on top list to be monitored for long time until he was tricked, and the flight flown him to the country he had spent about 26 years without stepping in. Apparently, he was tricked by Rwanda spy network and boarded into a private jet knowing that he was heading to neighbouring country, Burundi.

According to Rwandan authorities, he was arrested because he is believed to be the leader, founder and sponsor of a violent extremist group operating in Rwanda and more widely, known as MRCD/FLN. The international arrest warrant under which he has been detained include accusations of the attacks and killings by FLN in southern Rwanda in June and July 2018, and December 2018. Rusesabagina and dozens of his former MRCD comrades are detained in Rwanda awaiting trial on charges that include terrorism.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.


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