Belgium: The obscure activities of the Rwandan embassy in Brussels

“The Belgian intelligence services have been informed of the existence of a Rwandan death squads in Europe”, This was announced by the head of the Belgian intelligence services in June 2018 was the result of an extensive investigation by the editorial staff of Jambo news. For almost a year, from Brussels to Kigali via Paris, Jambo news has been interested in Rwandan intelligence and security networks in Europe, which the Belgian authorities call “death squads”. Jambo news had the opportunity to meet individuals directly or indirectly involved in these underground Rwandan intelligence networks. They agreed to talk and tell the ins and outs of the obscure activities carried out under the coordination of the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels. Their anonymity has been preserved for security reasons *.

In 2014, at the instigation of the political and military authorities of Kigali, the intelligence services instructed the Rwandan embassy in Brussels to set up a security and intelligence network in Belgium. This project is named “Intervention Group”. Throughout the year, the then Ambassador of Rwanda in Brussels, Robert Masozera, held several meetings during which the outline, operation and objectives of this “Intervention Group” were drawn. On the initiative, Major-General Jack Nziza entrusted this project to Lieutenant-Colonel Franco Rutagengwa and Brigadier-General Francis Mutiganda. They were respectively the head of the Directorate Military Intelligence (entity became Defense Intelligence Department) and the head of the external intelligence within the National Intelligence Security Services.

The Intervention Group was created in 2014 as an informal security and intelligence service for the Rwandan authorities in Europe. It is intended to be deployable throughout the states of Western Europe. He has a fivefold goal:

• destabilize the activities, actions and projects of the political opposition;
• Conduct intelligence activities within the Rwandan community in Europe;
• Carry out intelligence activities after personalities as well as within local and international political institutions and organizations present in Belgium (which may have a strategic interest for Rwanda)
• Protect the members of the diaspora who support the RPF regime;
• Ensure the protection of personalities and especially that of Rwandan President Paul Kagame during his travels in Europe.

At the end of 2014, a dozen carefully selected individuals were sent to Rwanda to follow an ideological, military and intelligence training. Among them were Victor Kayumba, Abou Uwase, Gustave Mukunde, Claude Birasa, Claude Muvunyi, Olivier Jyambere, Lewis Murahoneza, Florent Kamanzi and Octave Nyangabo. It was around this dozen that formed the backbone of the “Intervention group”. Back in Belgium, these individuals were structured little by little.

The group is organized in 3 cells: A Mobilization Cell, a Finance Cell and a Support Cell that is in charge of the entire logistics organization.
The intervention group is led by Victor Kayumba. At the general coordination we find a duet: Gustave Ntwaramuheto and Eulade Bwitare. The first is Chargé d’Affaires at the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels. The second is a former Captain in the RPF-APR, demobilized in 2003, he was appointed adviser to the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels after the RPF took power. He remained very influential in the ruling party. He also close to Jack Nziza and he is respected by the hardliners of the regime. He is now a “consultant” for the Rwandan embassy in Brussels. He is a connoisseur of the Belgian arcana, where he has lived for several years, and is described as “a calm and wise strategist but capable of the worst cruelties”.

The recruitment criteria are diversified, according to Jean *, one of the members who joined the group in 2014, “the majority was approached because they share the same ideology of support for the RPF and Kagame, but many are attracted by the financial attraction, travel and the social status of working in a group that sometimes has the responsibility of protecting the President “. But others join the group for more obscure reasons: “Some publicly boast of having the promise that the prosecution for their alleged involvement in the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi will be lifted. They boast of being untouchable by the Belgian justice because the embassy promised them to protect them “.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ruki Karusisi takes more and more space in the piloting of the Intervention Group

The group is piloted and receives its instructions directly from inside of the regime. Originally, the main sponsors included Major-General Jack Nziza, former Inspector General of the Rwandan Defense Forces, Brigadier-General Dan Muyunza, Inspector General of the Rwandan Police, Lieutenant-General Karenzi Karake, former defense adviser to President Kagame, Major-General Joseph Nzabamwita, current Chief of National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), or Brigadier-General John Gashayija, former Commander of the Reserve Force in the Southern region. In recent years, Lieutenant-Colonel Ruki Karusisi, former head of operations at the Republican Guard and recently promoted to the position of Deputy Chief of the Special Operating Forces, is also taking more and more role in piloting the “Intervention group “.

According to Jean*, it even happens that some of the hardliners of the regime, despite international arrest warrants on the back of some issued by the Spanish courts for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism make the trip to Belgium. “Sometimes some of them move and come to Belgium for special missions but most often it is Didier Rugina who goes back and forth. Didier Rugina has spent his entire career in Rwandan intelligence, he is currently in charge of the Europe Desk within the NISS.

The Rwandan Embassy in Brussels: Epicenter of the Intervention Group

The “Intervention Group” includes several members working directly as Embassy employees such as Gustave Mukunde, arrested by the British police in London in possession of a stab in the vicinity of political opponents in 2014, or Claude Birasa, instigator of the attack on journalist Peter Verlinden and members of Jambo ASBL in Amsterdam in October 2015.

The Intervention Group is directly piloted from the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels by Gustave Ntwaramuheto. Originally from the former Gitarama prefecture, he has been in charge of the Intervention Group since 2015, when he was appointed advisor to the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels. He unofficially replaced Joseph Uwamungu who was formerly in charge of the entire intelligence and security component of the Rwandan representation in Belgium.

Very discreet, we see very little in the social outlets of the Brussels capital. “Sometimes he goes to the Chez Maria bar, to the Umbrella bar or to the pubs with Jean-Bosco Ntibitura to watch a football match,” Jean continues. Gustave Ntwaramuheto seems constantly at the task, “if you seek him, you will often find him on the side of the boulevard Saint-Michel at the bar The Open where he has his professional appointments”. “The Ambassador”, like Gustave, is called by the staff of The Open, even has his table away from prying eyes. “He works a lot, he is constantly developing his network, I would say that his only distraction is his many female conquests” concludes Jean *.

Gustave Ntwaramuheto is close to Louise Mushikiwabo, current Secretary General of the International Organization of the Francophonie and former all-powerful Minister of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda, he was recently promoted to Chargé d’Affaires at the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels .

Gustave Ntwaramuheto et Eulade Bwitare

The pillars of the network

In a short time Gustave Ntwaramuheto managed to create a network of informants on which he bases his actions. Honorine Uwamurera, divorced by a former officer of the Belgian army, is one of the pillars of her network, she is very useful for her extensive knowledge of the Rwandan society. “Even though Gustave is very dynamic, he has a certain historical and societal misunderstanding of the Rwandan community. He relies heavily on Honorine for all its shadows “confides Pascal *, a close friend of Gustave Ntwaramuheto. Another pillar of the intelligence system put in place by the charge d’affaires of the Rwandan embassy is Patrick Bwito. This Rwandair employee managed to infiltrate closer to the services of Zaventem airport. This allows Gustave Ntwaramuheto to retrieve lists of passengers and thus control the comings and goings of Rwandan nationals from Brussels. Gustave Ntwaramuheto does not hesitate to use “muzungu” (white in Kinyarwanda) for special missions. For example: “Jean-François Cahey, a close friend of Eulade Bwitare, who married a very active Rwandan woman in the diaspora called Nadia Kabalira, is regularly used to approach whites or for any mission that requires a non-professional person. typical Rwandan “says Marie *, close to the couple Cahey-Kabalira. During a demonstration of the Rwandan opposition in May 2017, Jean-François Cahey was sent to the crowd to bring back photographs of the demonstrators present. “When we asked him who he was and why he was taking pictures of the people present, he told us stammering that he was a journalist at Belga and that he had forgotten his press card,” says one of the organizers. of the manifestation.

The obscure activities of the Embassy and the Intervention Group require a lot of money. In order to circumvent the traditional ways of transferring money, the “Intervention Group” calls on Rwanda cash. It is a non-profit organization that offers payment and money transfer services between Rwanda and Belgium. In 2013, the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) warned the public against the activities of Rwanda Cash asblen enjoining the users not to “follow up the offers of financial services from Rwanda Cash asbl” because non-compliance with the regulations in force [1]. Despite the opaque and unclear operation, Rwanda Cash continued its activities under the leadership of Ramadhani Nsengiyunva and Selemani Niyitegeka, the non-profit organization continued to work on behalf of the Rwandan embassy and therefore the “Intervention group” .

Lobbying or influence peddling?

The line between legal lobbying by all states and trading in influence seems to have become non-existent when it comes to activities coordinated by the Rwandan embassy in Brussels. The use of women to approach senior Belgian officials and political and economic leaders is a common practitioner. Marie *, who was approached by a member of the “Intervention group” for a special mission, tells us that Gustave Ntwaramuheto has “a list of young women who are ready to give themselves to anyone if he request “. A former colleague of Belgian Senator Alain Desthexe, a long-time supporter of Paul Kagame’s regime, told us that he “thought for a long time that Alain’s closeness to Rwandan women was just a sin before they only admit that if she had not been paid she would not be there with an old man like Desthexe “. Diane *, close to Gustave Ntwaramuheto, told us that “during official events, Gustave constantly observes men who are not insensitive to the physical assets of Rwandan women. When he sees one who regularly has his eyes swinging, the next time, he will sit a beautiful young Rwandan who knows how to do next to him. “. Before concluding: “Look at the investments of the personalities during the last Rwanda day in Ghent and you will understand.”

Ambassador Amandin Rugira on the day of his delivery of the credentials to the King of Belgium alongside Jean-Bosco Ntibitura, First Secretary – in charge of Consular Affairs and Gustave Ntwaramuheto

The embassy does not hesitate to resort to contentious means to achieve its objectives. One of the translators at the ACP Secretariat (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) told us a story that took place in 2018 at the height of the diplomatic crisis between Rwanda and Burundi: “Before each event Official speakers provide us with their speeches so that we can prepare the translation in advance. The Rwandan services managed to obtain curiously the speech of the Burundian representative to one of my colleagues. They then managed to change the order of the speeches so that the Rwandan chargé d’affaires could speak before the Burundian. Thus, the Rwandan diplomat dismantled one by one the arguments that the Burundian delegation intended to set out in their speech that was to follow. The Burundian ambassador seemed ridiculous in the eyes of all those present “. The ACP seems to have a lot of interest for the Rwandan embassy in Brussels. Computer hacking is another weapon used by the embassy. According to Pascal *, “Gustave had set himself the goal of hacking the IT services of the general secretariat of the ACP, I do not really know what interested him but I understand that he has succeeded”.

Gustave Ntwaramuheto has built a network of informants and relays in the various international institutions present in Belgium but also in the various Belgian ministries and local organizations. Jean * told us the approach scheme put in place: “When we need a particular piece of information, we know where to get it. As soon as a Rwandan occupies a potentially interesting position in a targeted organization, it is subtly approached. Sometimes the ideological seduction is enough. When the person is tougher, Gustave knows how to activate different levers to lean on our side. Generally the financial attraction is sufficient but other times, he resorts to blackmail: threat of no longer provide visas, difficulty in real estate and commercial investments in Rwanda, pressure on a judicial record, … Everything is good so that person can be used. We have people in office who bring us all useful information. They can also render small services. A concrete example: Sometimes people like Gaston B. or Chico N., who work in the CPAS in Brussels, block the files of people who bother us or put the files of guys to us.

In this global scheme, Ambassador Amandin Rugira has very little influence. In a sarcastic tone, Pascal * confided to us “He is not really respected, and he is never made aware of the actions taken. Between us, we call him the “monkey” but he accepts that very well. ». It seems, however, that he has a little more influence than his predecessor Olivier Nduhungirehe who “was absolutely despised by all”. For Jean *, the Amb. Amandin Rugira nevertheless has a little more grip than his predecessor as when: “he punched the table for the lack of discipline within the group and against those like Claude Birasa who regularly use in the embassy case . “These problems of discipline have also led Gustave Ntwaramuheto and Vicky Kayumba to decide the renewal of a large part of the group’s workforce by the end of 2019” to bring in fresh blood, “continues Jean *.

Rwandan “death squads” in Europe

In June 2018, Guy Rapaille, the iconic and former head of Comité R, the body overseeing all intelligence services such as state security and his military counterpart, the SGRS (General Intelligence and Security Service), dropped a real bomb that went unnoticed at the time. In an interview with the newspaper Le Soir and Knack magazine, he reveals that the Belgian services “have been informed of the existence of a Rwandan death squadron in Europe”. Pointing the Rwandan services, Guy Rapaille deplored their illegal activities in Belgium: “The principle is simple: when foreign secret services deploy operations here, they are supposed to inform the Belgian services. It’s going well with most countries, but there are foreign services that do not work like that. ” The situation seems so worrying, that still yesterday, June 17, 2019, Paul Van de Voorde, the new boss of the SGRS has placed Rwanda alongside China and Russia “in the top priority of Belgian military intelligence “. [2]

In August 2015, the Flemish media Het Belang van Limburg revealed that the regime in power in Rwanda would try to eliminate dissidents and opponents in Belgium. Kigali would use for this purpose powerful commandos sent to Belgium. Revealing in passing that the State Security had already had to provide protection to several people. The media revealed the case of a Canadian journalist, Judi Rever, author of articles critical of the regime of the Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who had been on a week-long working visit to Belgium, traveled in an armored Mercedes accompanied by two police officers. The Canadian journalist had thus confided that a federal agent had informed him that: “Belgium had serious information that the Rwandan embassy in Brussels posed a threat to me”.

Serge Ndayizeye

Another case is that of Serge Ndayizeye, coordinator and journalist of Itahuka Radio, an online media outlet of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), the Rwandan opposition political party in exile. This radio, very critical of the Rwandan regime, is in the sights of the Rwandan authorities who have repeatedly called for its closure by the US authorities. In June 2017, Serge Ndayizeye, residing in the United States, made an exceptional trip to Belgium to cover Paul Kagame’s visit to Brussels. Under the coordination of Gustave Ntwaramuheto and a NISS officer named Rwahama, a team was formed to “eliminate” Serge Ndayizeye during his stay in Brussels. This team consisted of members of the Republican Guard and logistically supported by the “Intervention group”. “We knew that Serge often went to a relative of a certain Marie-Rose Nkezabera. We knew that he sometimes slept with that close friend of Marie-Rose. We then asked Marie-Rose to inform herself discreetly and without the knowledge of the landlord about the dates and times he would go there. We had to apprehend him and make him believe in a murder for a settlement of accounts, “said Jean *, a member of the group.

Fortunately, Serge Ndayizeye, was informed: “A team of the Belgian Federal Police has been looking for me for several days. When they found me, they informed me that I would run a very high risk. I had the choice between staying constantly under their protection and staying in a safe house or I had to go back by the first plane in the United States. They did not want to give me more details, “the journalist told us.

Incidents on the side-lines of Paul Kagame’s visits to Europe

Systematically at each of Paul Kagame’s visits to Western Europe, the Republican Guard, who accompanies the Rwandan President in each of his travels, calls on the Intervention Group. For example, in May 2018, Paul Kagame was invited to France for a visit that was to mark the warming of relations between Rwanda and France. For the occasion, no less than twenty members of the “Intervention Group” who made the trip from Brussels to Paris to support the Republican Guard. Among them were: Vicky Kayumba (Team Leader), Florent Kamanzi, Gustave Mukunde, Prosper Rutayisire, Vincent Kabagema, Olivier Berlamont-Kayiganwa, Eric Muhirwa, Felix Rukundo Butera, Clovis Nkubito, Ndekezi Chico and Kennedy Bizimana, Claude Birasa and Lewis Murahoneza.

On the occasion of a joint visit by Presidents Macron and Kagame to the new technologies fair in Paris, Vivatech, nearly a hundred people had been recruited by the Rwandan services to monitor the surroundings, lock the protesters and watch over that the visit unfolds smoothly. “We had men on every street corner, in every bar, we mastered the situation,” said Alain *, one of those recruited for the occasion. Joint teams between members of the Republican Guard of the Intervention Group had been organized under the coordination of Lieutenant-Colonel Migabo Callixte, former Head of Intelligence within the Republican Guard and now in charge of operations and by Tom Gasana, former major in the RDF. Didier Rugina, head of the Europe desk at the NISS, was once again present to oversee the whole thing.

Several incidents have already taken place on the sidelines of Paul Kagame’s visits to Europe. In May 2014, while the group was being formed, members of the Intervention Group and the Republican Guard attacked a meeting of members of the opposition and Rwandan civil society Royal Park of Brussels. Brave Bahibigwi, former President of Jambo asbl and present on the scene told us: “About twenty individuals surrounded us, little by little they began to threaten us and some took out knives to intimidate us. The meeting cut short because many of the participants ran away. “.

Gustave Mukunde, employee of the Rwandan Embassy in Brussels arrested in London in possession of a dagger

October 21, 2014, while Paul Kagame met his supporters in London. An important safety device had been put in place and the members of the Intervention Group played a leading role. The demonstrators of Congolese origin being very numerous, the Republican Guard of Kagame decided to intervene to intimidate them. Very virulent and in possession of knives for some, many members of the group, under the coordination of Innocent Ndacyayisenga, a member of the Republican Guard, were apprehended by the services of Scotland Yard. With them included: Gaston Basomingera (Belgian), Jean-Bosco Rutaganga (Belgian), Gustave Mukunde (Belgian), Emery Rwigema Seka (Belgian), Olivier Barlamont-Kayiganwa (Belgian), Jean-Claude Uwagitare (Belgian), Jean Aimé Nkundabagenzi (Belgian), and Edwin Mutabazi (Rwandan).

This is not the first time that the British services had to make Rwandan agents supposedly sent to London from Brussels for obscure activities. On 13 May 2011, Norbert Rukimbira, a Brussels bus driver and former Rwandan intelligence agent, was arrested in Folkestone by British counterterrorism police officers before being deported on suspicion of conspiring against two living Rwandan critics. in London.

In October 2015, during a Rwanda Day in Amsterdam, members of Jambo asbl and a team of journalists from VRT (Flemish public television) were attacked, threatened and a member of the group was stolen his phone by the strength. According to Norman Ishimwe, at that time Jambonews’ editor-in-chief, who was present at the scene to cover the event on behalf of Jambonews: “They surrounded us, began insulting us, threatening us and deal with all the names. They were excited. ” The individuals tried in vain to seize the camera of the team of reporters of the VRT.Ils will succeed nevertheless to seize the cellphone of Brave Bahibigwi. Journalists Anneke Verbraeken and Serge Ndayizeye will also later forcibly steal their phone and tablet respectively. Finally, while later in the afternoon there was a demonstration outside the conference center that hosted Rwanda Day, Antoine Niyitegeka, Commissioner in charge of the mobilization within the FDU-Inkingi, who animated the demonstrators, was violently beaten by a group of 5 individuals led by Lewis Murahoraneza and a certain Safari Mubenga, two Belgian members of the Intervention Group.

In June 2017, during a Rwanda day organized in Ghent, several Rwandan opponents were attacked during this week when Kagame was in Belgium. Father Athanase Mutarambirwa was assaulted, beaten, and his camera was ambushed by Thomas Nahimana, a former presidential candidate in 2017. Father Mutarambirwa is very committed to human rights in Rwanda. The attack took place around Tour & Taxis as Father Mutarambirwa returned home after a demonstration hostile to Paul Kagame’s presence in Belgium. He and his friend were victims of a section of about ten members of the “Intervention group”. Among them was once again Lewis Murahoneza. Other opponents have seen their car stoned or have been hit and provoked without luck.

“Intervention group,” a Rwandan militia in the capital of Europe

The Larousse dictionary defines the term “Militia” as “an illegal paramilitary organization carrying out commando actions on behalf of a political movement. Organized, methodical and with a cult of secrecy very thorough, the “Intervention group” has all the attributes of a militia. For the past 5 years, this militia has grown to reach nearly 100 members today.
People from Rwanda are estimated at nearly 50,000 in Belgium. While it is understandable that the Rwandan authorities are interested in this community, the nature of the actions carried out against them even until the establishment of “death squads” is more than worrying.

Some of the members of the Intervention group

Traffic of influence with Belgian politicians and officials, threats and physical attacks, theft of mobile phones, hacking, intimidation of all kinds, … the methods of intelligence and intervention network set up by Rwanda on Belgian territory concerned.

In Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa, the activities of Rwandan death squads have been carried out until several murders have been committed. Last year, two young Belgians, Thomas Ngeze, and Pieter-Jan Staelens, from Bruges, seem to have paid the price. The Belgian prosecutor opened an investigation.

In 2012, Olivier Nduhungirehe, the former Rwandan ambassador to Belgium, today number two in Rwandan diplomacy, was questioned about the concerns of Belgian security with regard to the “tension” of the Rwandan regime. His answer ? “We do not care about Belgian security”. Do the Belgian political authorities share the same view? In view of their silence about the suspicious death of two young Belgians in South Africa and their inaction in the face of the development of a militia on their territory, the question is worth asking.


Emmanuel Hakuzwimana