Congo: Islamic State Stakes A Claim

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October 21, 2020: In Northwestern Congo (Equateur province) international health experts believe the Ebola virus here is under control, but continue to call it a high-risk outbreak. In the jargon, it is a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). That’s because Equateur borders on the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and cross-border transmission remains possible. Meanwhile, WHO (World Health Organization)’s image in central Africa has been severely tarnished by accusations of sexual abuse by WHO workers sent to eastern Congo. On October 15, 2020, WHO announced it had formed a commission to investigate allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by its personnel in Congo.

October 20, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) three groups of ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) Islamic terrorists attacked the Kangbayi prison and a nearby army base in the city of Beni. Two attack groups went after the prison and set free about 1,200 prisoners. The attack on the army base was meant to delay soldiers from responding to the prison break. As prisoners were recaptured it was discovered that the attackers were from the ADF, which later issued a statement claiming credit for the operation in the name of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). ADF considers itself part of ISCAP (Islamic State Central Africa Province). This group first appeared in 2018 as ISIL managed to get some existing Islamic rebel groups in central and southern Africa to declare an affiliation with ISCAP and share in ISIL media, fund raising and recruiting efforts. There was also the fear factor, as ISIL was widely believed to the most vicious and formidable Islamic terrorist group around. The Kangbayi prison did not hold many ADF prisoners but there a lot of other inmates who might be inspired to join ADF because of the prison break. This is not the first time has attacked Kangbayi prison. A mid-2017 attack freed 900 prisoners. The ADF has been active in this part of Congo for a long time. ADF is a Ugandan rebel organization with strong connections to Moslem tribes in northern Uganda. In fact, since 2014 it has been regarded as an Islamist group. Peacekeepers launched several operations in 2014 against ADF bases in the Congo. The 2014 operations weakened the ADF but did not eliminate it. After action analysis of 2014 anti-ADF operations indicated that the ADF had around 500 fighters in Congo. Its bases near the Ugandan border could have supported up to 2,000 fighters. Interrogators spokes with several captured ADF fighters who reported that the ADF had a very active recruitment network in east Africa. The ADF financed itself via smuggling, with smuggling timber (logs) a major source of income. The ADF also enforced his own interpretation of Islamic (sharia) law. ADF fighters could enslave local Congolese women and children. If someone was caught trying to escape from an ADF camp, they faced death by beheading or crucifixion. All this was similar to ISIL practices and that explains why ADF chose to affiliate itself with ISIL.

October 18, 2020: In northeastern Congo (Ituri province) unidentified rebels armed with machetes attacked two villages, killing ten civilians and wounding one.

October 15, 2020: The CAR (Central African Republic) military took delivery of ten BRDM-2 armored personnel carriers provided by Russia. The BRDMs arrived in the CAR capital, Bangui, aboard Russian transport planes. Another ten will arrive later this month. The UN peacekeepers thanked Russia for delivering the equipment, which will speed up operations and reduce casualties among peacekeepers and CAR soldiers.

October 14, 2020: In Uganda police entered the campaign headquarter of opposition leader Bobi Wine and confiscated security cameras and campaign material. Wine responded by accusing the government of intimidation and harassment.

October 13, 2020: In Malawi (a small landlocked nation in southeast Africa) Catholic Church bishops asked the government to increase security following an attack by “armed bandits” on a Church in the south (Machinga district). This is the third attack on a Catholic parish since the first week of September. An earlier attack occurred on October 7.

October 9, 2020: The UN estimates there are 5.5 million internally displaced people in Congo. Think of them as internal refugees. International aid groups now report 50,000 new refugees have fled recent fighting in in eastern Congo (North Kivu and Ituri provinces). Locals blame the ADF Islamist rebel group for recent attack on a village near the city of Beni which killed 13 people and spurred a refugee wave. Attacks by the NDC/R (Nduma Defense of Congo—Renovated) in North Kivu have contributed as well. Since January 2019 over 1,000 people have died during attacks in and around Beni.

October 6, 2020: The UN is conducting another review of UN peacekeeper operations in Congo as the planned drawdown in peacekeeper strength continues. At the moment peacekeepers plan to focus on three eastern provinces that continue to experience relentless violence, North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri.

Investigators now confirm that ADF extremists massacred 19 civilians on September 27 when they attacked Mamove (North Kivu province).

October 4, 2020: One faction of UN analysts questions claims that the ADF has ties to ISIL. There is no debate that the ADF is responsible for a great deal of the violence directed at civilians in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, but the study suggests its ties to the Islamic State are at best tenuous. Interestingly enough, ISIS frequently claims that it has ties to the ADF. The UN report said that it has no documented direct evidence of organizational ties between the ADF and ISIS.

October 2, 2020: In northeastern Congo (Ituri province) soldiers fought with FRPI (Front for Patriotic Resistance in Ituri) rebels. Three soldiers and six rebels died along with at least two civilians.

September 29, 2020: Uganda announced it will help pay for surfacing over 200 kilometers of roadway in eastern Congo running from the city of Beni to the Uganda border. It will also help improve road connections to the city of Goma. Uganda said the improvement will increase trade between Uganda and Congo.

September 27, 2020: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) ADF gunmen attacked the town of Mamove and killed 19 civilians. Authorities described the attack as a massacre. This sort of thing is usually done to intimidate the locals into cooperating with the attackers, or else.

September 24, 2020: In southwest Congo (Kasai region) more tribal violence erupted over farmland and farming rights. The worst seems to have occurred near Mbuji-Mayi, the capital of Kasai-Oriental province. In early September at least 11 people were killed and over 1,000 homes burned. The Catholic Church reported that 10,000 people have fled the fighting and become internally displaced.

September 21, 2020: President Felix Tshisekedi met with former Congo president Joseph Kabila amid rumors of increased tension between their political coalitions. Tshisekedi is president but Kabila’s party control parliament and most of the government’s key posts. Kabila’s supporters have announced he will run for president in the next election three years from now.

In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) twelve civilians and one soldier were killed when ADF rebels attacked a village near the Ugandan border.

 

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