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World The rebels working with Islamic State in Central Africa

03:05  14 june  2021
03:05  14 june  2021 Source:   bbc.com

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"At present, we are a province, the Central African Province, which is one of many provinces that make up the Islamic State ," he said. Local media still attribute attacks to the ADF. DR Congo is predominantly Roman Catholic, and the church is a key player in the country. Muslims comprise about 10% of the population. The Muslim community in Beni has become increasingly vocal against the rebel group, but this comes at a cost. In May, two prominent clerics known to be critical of the ADF were shot dead in Beni.

The Central Africa Province (abbreviated IS-CAP, also known as Central Africa Wilayah and Wilayat Wasat Ifriqiya) is an administrative division of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo has long been a cradle of rebel activity, often the spill-over of conflict in neighbouring Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

a person riding on the back of a truck: ADF/IS attacks around Beni have become more frequent since March 2020 © Getty Images ADF/IS attacks around Beni have become more frequent since March 2020

Among the most notorious groups now operating there is Uganda's Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The Islamist militant outfit was formed in the 1990s and primarily concerned itself with domestic grievances within Uganda.

But after re-emerging in DR Congo, its activity has taken on a more global jihadist dimension, with attacks increasingly being claimed in the name of the Islamic State (IS) group.

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However, a Central African province was previously mentioned by Baghdadi in an August 2018 speech, meaning ISCAP had existed for almost a year before ISIS first publicly attributed an attack to the wilayat. Reuters reported the attack killed two soldiers and a civilian, and that it had been carried out by the In it an Arabic-speaking militant called on people to migrate to DRC, saying “I swear to God that this is Dar al Islam [abode of Islam ] of the Islamic State in Central Africa .” This video was shared by multiple pro-ISIS groups on social media. “In the last year, we have debriefed a South African , a

Search for. Home/ Islamic State Central Africa Province. Washington on Thursday labeled the ADF militia, suspected of hundreds of civilian killings in the Democratic Republic of Congo's east, a "foreign terrorist organization" linked to Islamic State .

How did the ADF start?

The ADF was created in northern Uganda by former military officers loyal to former strongman Idi Amin.

It took up arms against Uganda's long-serving President, Yoweri Museveni, alleging government persecution of Muslims.

After its defeat by the Ugandan army in 2001, it relocated to North Kivu province in the DR Congo.

Following a period of low-level activity, the ADF re-emerged in 2014 with a series of attacks on Congolese civilians.

Musa Seka Baluku became leader in 2015 following the arrest of his predecessor Jamil Mukulu.

Baluku reportedly first pledged allegiance to IS in 2016.

But it was not until April 2019 that IS first acknowledged its activity in the area, when it claimed an attack on army positions near the border with Uganda.

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Abstract: The annus horribilis Islamic State Central suffered in 2019, during which the group lost the last stretch of its “territorial caliphate” in Iraq and Syria and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed, does not appear to have had a discernible impact on the overall operational trajectory of the Islamic The Islamic State ’s province in Algeria remains effectively defunct, and though the Islamic State affiliate in Tunisia failed to conduct major attacks, it remained active. As the authors stress in this article and an upcoming book, the overall resilience of the Islamic State in Africa should not be a surprise

Two African extremist movements affiliated with the Islamic State group could become a major threat on the continent if they come together and boost cooperation, US experts warn. For now, Libyan Islamist rebels that have proclaimed allegiance to IS and Boko Haram in Nigeria have traded little "They could decide that instead of fighting to achieve their immediate local objectives they decided to shift their focus and go after Western interests," said Michael Shurkin, a former CIA analyst and specialist on central Africa at the Rand Corporation. "For instance, Boko Haram attacking the French

This statement marked the announcement of IS's "Central Africa Province" (Iscap), which would later include Mozambique.

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While there are indications that IS has co-opted the ADF, IS has never publicly mentioned it by name in its propaganda.

In September 2020, Baluku claimed that the ADF had "ceased to exist".

"At present, we are a province, the Central African Province, which is one of many provinces that make up the Islamic State," he said.

Local media still attribute attacks to the ADF.


Video: Air raids in rebel-held Syria said to kill at least 10 (Reuters)

What is the situation in DR Congo?

According to the UN's refugee agency, the UNHCR, the ADF has killed about 200 civilians and displaced nearly 40,000 others in Beni since January 2021. The rebel group also targets government and UN troops.

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Islamic State propagandists said the group was responsible for an assault that left eight Congolese soldiers dead. It was the group’s first Congo attack. It was the first time that the Islamic State has asserted responsibility for an attack in Congo, a vast country where the central government has limited reach and where rebel groups have proliferated for many years. The attack came in an area near the border of Uganda that is already beset with an outbreak of Ebola that health workers have struggled to contain because of a range of reasons, including violent attacks on treatment centers .

The book was from the Islamic State ’s Research and Studies Office, a department of the terrorist group’s now-defunct state in Syria and Iraq that issued doctrinal texts buttressing its brutal worldview. The discovery of the book in the spring of 2018 was among a number of clues indicating that the Karl J. Wiest, a spokesman for the United States Africa Command, said that the group in Congo is considered to have “meaningful ties to the Islamic State .” Other signs of a link to ISIS can be found in 35 videos that one A.D.F. member posted online starting in 2016. The footage shows the rebel

Since the emergence of IS in DR Congo, the frequency of attacks has increased.

Iscap's attacks take place in ADF territory, centring on North Kivu's Beni territory, with occasional forays into neighbouring Ituri Province.

The vast majority of these are on military targets, but the deadliest attacks are on Christian civilians.

Iscap's most significant attack so far appears to have been the October 2020 jail break in Beni that led to the escape of over 1,000 prisoners.

Fears of religious conflict

The conflict in eastern DR Congo has often touched off ethnic tensions, but the involvement of IS risks adding a sectarian dynamic.

DR Congo is predominantly Roman Catholic, and the church is a key player in the country. Muslims comprise about 10% of the population.

The Muslim community in Beni has become increasingly vocal against the rebel group, but this comes at a cost.

In May, two prominent clerics known to be critical of the ADF were shot dead in Beni.

The rebel group has also been linked to attacks against Catholics. In October 2012, it abducted three Catholic priests from a convent in the Mbau locality. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

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In its propaganda, IS has frequently singled out Christians and taunted the DR Congo government over its "failure" to protect them from its attacks.

Such provocation is characteristic of IS, which often seeks to exacerbate local tensions to bolster its credentials as a defender of ordinary Muslims against "oppression".

IS propaganda

The ADF does not appear to run its own media outlets or to independently claim responsibility for attacks.

But IS has a sophisticated and centralised online media operation at its disposal, bolstered by a host of supportive outlets operating on various messaging platforms.

The bulk of Iscap propaganda consists of written claims of attacks, and photos of their aftermath.

In March, as a show of force, Iscap released images purporting to show its militants roaming the streets of a village in Ituri province following an attack on the army. But such images are rare and suggest that IS has yet to become a significant force in DR Congo.

In October 2020, IS's flagship newspaper al-Naba released a special infographic flaunting Iscap operations over a period of 12 months, highlighting attacks in both DR Congo and Mozambique.

Regional jihadist expansion

Rebel violence in eastern DR Congo has largely been sustained by a lack of strong government institutions and mistrust in military intervention.

These are ideal conditions in which IS can expand, as evidenced by its surge across Iraq and Syria in 2014, and more recently in West Africa, where it has spread beyond north-east Nigeria into the Sahel region.

Similarly, IS expansion is often driven by alliances or the co-opting of established local groups with a shared ideology, as appears to have happened with the ADF.

Iscap is likely to exploit the increased violence to expand activity in neighbouring countries.

Indeed this is already in evidence, with increased attacks in Mozambique and the first Iscap-claimed attack in Tanzania in October last year, which reportedly left 20 soldiers dead.

This expansion, along with the one witnessed in West Africa, is part of a general tilt towards Africa following IS's recent setbacks in its traditional Middle Eastern heartlands.

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