ChimpReports Investigations Team
In late January, 2018, a meeting was held at Usafi Mosque in downtown Kampala.
The mosque’s offices were out of bounds to the public. Only authorized members had access to restricted sections.
Chaired by Yakoub Byensi alias Jacob, the meeting was called to lay strategies for raising funds to run the operations of the movement known as Madinat Twahid wal Muhadiin (MTM), loosely translated as the ‘Holy Monotheistic City of Medina.
MTM is an offshoot of ADF, which pays allegiance to the extremist ideology championed by Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Yakoub is a former combatant with the ADF.
At the meeting, members made suggestions which included kidnap of children of wealthy businessmen. Their target was to raise about Shs 2bn.
The funds would be used as capital to start businesses to create a sustainable source of revenue to facilitate their operations.
After intense discussions, the members agreed to kidnap the daughter of John Fitzgerald Magara, a wealthy businessman and proprietor of Bwendero Dairy Farm.
The Magara family was known to Yakoub – also from Bunyoro.
After tracking their target for days, Yakoub’s team kidnapped Magara near her residence along Kabaka Anjagala Road in Lubaga Division on February 7.
She was dragged into a waiting car which drove off to Konge, Nakawuka in Wakiso district.
Based in different places, Yakoub managed to elude security using 17 sim-cards, exposing a high level of sophistication.
In a recent interview, Defence Spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire said the killers were simply “trying to be sophisticated because we will get them.”
Yakoub would later take Magara to a two-room rental house where she was guarded by Hajara Nakandi, 35.
It’s here that Magara spent about 20 days as her captors negotiated for a multi-billion shilling ransom.
The parents managed to raise Shs 700m and hoped Magara would be freed.
Earlier, to demonstrate their commitment to kill Magara, Yakoub took one of his group members with some knowledge about amputation to the residence where she was held.
“An anesthetic drug was injected near a cluster of nerves, numbing a larger area of the arm to allow the cutting off of two fingers from Magara’s hand,” one of the suspects who were arrested by a joint force confessed.
According to confidential files, which prosecutors will rely on to pin the suspects in court, the suspects confessed killing Magara.
Upon receiving a huge sum of money, Magara’s kidnappers bought taxi minibuses for transport business.
One of the minibus drivers was recently arrested.
“When the driver was asked how he got the minibus, he told interrogators he was approached by a stranger who asked him to use the vehicles for taxi business. He identified one of the suspects in the Magara case who was in detention at Kireka Police Station,” said a source.
It’s alleged some of the ransom was used to buy land near Lake Victoria in Mukono district where a Mosque would be erected.
Having received the ransom from Magara’s father, it was expected that she would be freed.
“I delivered what they (kidnappers) had asked for and all I hoped was to welcome Susan back home, because there was no reason Susan was not being released,” Magara told mourners during the daughter’s funeral mass at Our Lady of Africa Catholic in Mbuya.
Indeed, investigations show, the kidnappers had not planned to kill Magara.
“During the interviews, one of the suspects said they never wanted to kill Magara but force his father release the much-needed funds,” said an official briefed about this sensitive development.
So why did they kill Magara?
Two days before Magara’s body was recovered, something unusual occurred at Hajara’s residence.
Hajara received guests who spend several hours at the residence. Little did they know that Magara was hidden in one of the rooms.
However, during the conversation, one of the visitors mentioned Hajara’s name. It’s at this moment that hell broke loose.
Hajara became so impatient and restless, fearing that Magara had positively identified her kidnapper’s associate.
It will be recalled that for the better part of her captivity, Magara was always blindfolded to protect the identity of the kidnappers. Whenever the kidnappers visited Hajara’s place of abode, they used pseudo names.
But visitors had exposed Hajara’s identity to Magara. ChimpReports could not establish whether Magara indeed came to learn of Hajara’s identity.
What this investigative website confirmed is that Hajara quickly informed Yakoub about the incident.
Prosecutors will submit that another meeting was held at Usafi, where members discussed Magara’s fate – to release or kill her.
“How sure are we that Magara did not pick Hajara’s identity? What would happen if she was released? What are the consequences of killing her?” one of the suspects told investigators.
Releasing Magara would put at risk her colleagues in the mission.
“If Hajara were arrested, you would be sure of leading police to Yakoub and others. The entire terrorist movement and its cells would be identified and crushed by security forces. We could not risk destroying the Movement by saving her,” one of the suspects confessed.
Confidential files further indicate some members of Yakoub’s organisation were opposed to killing Magara, saying it would embolden security services to intensify the hunt for all the killers.
“But Yakoub overruled us. He said Magara had to die. It was a matter of time for her execution,” another suspect confessed.
On February 27, Magara’s killers tied her arms behind her back.
Her mouth and nose were wrapped with sellotape. As she struggled to breath, a lethal injection was administered – ending the 28-year-old’s precious life.
Brig Richard Karemire recently said the suspected who “administered the final injection” was arrested by a joint force in Lugala, which is between Kasubi and Masanafu in Wakiso District.
The main suspects who are still on the run are Yakoub, a resident of Kibuye II, Lwanga Village, Makindye Division, Kampala and Abduhakim Lugolobi, a resident of Mulama Kitebere Village, Katikamu, Luwero District.
The hearing of the case is underway at Buganda Road Court.
The suspects are Yusuf Lubega, 32, a boda boda rider, Hussein Wasswa, 22, a hawker, Muzamiru Ssali, 27, bodaboda rider, Hajara Nakandi, 35, a teacher, Abubaker Kyewolwa, 30, a businessman Mahad Kasalita an Imam at Usafi Mosque, Hassan Kato Miiro,22, and Ismail Bukenya, a businessman.
Prosecution contends that these and others still at large, on February 7, 2018 kidnapped Ms Magara with intent to procure a ransom or benefit from her liberation from the danger of being murdered.
It further states that the accused and others still at large on February 27 at Kigo in Wakiso district murdered Magara.