By Hannah Rugema
In a major breakthrough in the fight against terrorism, Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has arrested Paul Rusesabagina, a known denier of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, and leader of outfits including MRCD/FLN and PDR-Ihumure largely made up of perpetrators in the genocide against Tutsi and genocide deniers.
“Rusesabagina is suspected to be the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits operating out of various places in the region and abroad,” the Rwanda Investigation Bureau said in a statement.
According to the Bureau, Rusesabagina has been subject of an International Arrest Warrant for charges of serious crime including terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder, perpetrated against unarmed, innocent Rwandan civilians on Rwandan territory, including in Nyabimata – Nyaruguru district in June 2018 and in Nyungwe – Nyamagabe District in December 2018.
Rusesabagina has repeatedly been implicated by previously arrested terror suspects, including FLN spokespersons Callixte Nsabimana, who pleaded guilty to several attacks in Southern and Western Provinces. He disclosed he worked closely with Rusesabagina. Reports indicate that Rusesabagina formed the Mouvement Rwandais pour le Changement Démocratique (MRCD) in December 2016, with the National Liberation Forces (FNL) as its military arm. FLN also was in the so-called “P5” umbrella – along with outfits such as Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC, the genocidal FDLR and RUD-Urunana among other illegal armed groups based in DRC.
In 2011, Rwanda prosecution said it had evidence showing that Rusesabagina funded terror activities in Rwanda pointing out that Rusesabagina, through Western Union money transfer, was sending funds to top commanders of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The funds were to facilitate recruitment of fighters for a new terrorist organization known as Coalition of Democratic forces (CDF) which would then be a military wing of the FDU-Inkingi.
Last month, Rwanda paraded over three hundred suspects that belonged in different terror groups funded by Rusesabagina, including members of FLN, RUD-Urunana, FDLR, and MRCD. “Those suspected of killing and wreaking terror on Rwandans, those suspected of masterminding, sponsoring or financing terror against Rwandans, will be brought to justice,” tweeted Justice Minister Busingye Johnston following the announcement of the arrest of the high-profile fugitive.
Paul Rusesabagina earlier in the 2000s rose to fame as a result of what many have termed “Hollywood mythmaking”. That followed the 2004 film, Hotel Rwanda, supposedly based on his “heroic work saving hundreds of Tutsis” that fled into the Mille Collines Hotel where he was the manager. But hundreds of witnesses interviewed in books like Inside the Hotel Rwanda by Edouard Kayihura and Kerry Zukus, have completely contradicted the movie’s depiction of events. Many have denounced the film as an outright work of fiction.
Kayihura, co-author of the book, was one of the refugees in those harrowing days at the Mille Collines. “Rusesabagina was a profiteer, and a politically ambitious Hutu Power sympathizer who extorted money from those who sought refuge, threatening to send those who did not pay to the Genocidaires,” wrote Kayihura.