Democratic Republic of Congo,Ugandan rebels are working with the Islamic State

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ugandan rebels are working with the Islamic State (IS)

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern region has long been a hotbed of rebel activity, frequently as a result of strife in neighboring Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda. Uganda’s Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is one of the most notorious groups active there right now.

The Ugandan Islamist militant group was founded in the 1990s and initially focused on internal concerns. However, since resurfacing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, its activities have taken on a more global jihadist tone, with assaults increasingly being claimed in the name of the Islamic State (IS).

Previous military officers loyal to former strongman Idi Amin formed the ADF in northern Uganda. It took up weapons against Uganda’s long-serving President Yoweri Museveni, claiming that Muslims were being persecuted by the government. It fled to North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo after being defeated by the Ugandan army in 2001.

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The ADF resurfaced in 2014 with a series of attacks against Congolese civilians after a period of low activity. Musa Seka Baluku took over as leader in 2015 when his predecessor Jamil Mukulu was arrested. Baluku is said to have declared allegiance to IS for the first time in 2016.

IS did not admit its presence in the area until April 2019, when it claimed an attack on army posts near the Ugandan border. IS’s “Central Africa Province” (Iscap), which would subsequently include Mozambique, was announced in this statement.

While there are signs that IS has enlisted the ADF’s help, IS has never referenced the ADF by name in its propaganda. Baluku stated the ADF had “ceased to exist” in September 2020. “Right now, we’re a province, the Central African Province, which is one of many that make up the Islamic State,” he explained. The ADF is still blamed for the attacks in the local media.