Threat to Countries Supporting anti-Islamic States Central Africa Province (ISCAP) Counter-insurgency Activities: Tanzania, Rwanda as Case Studies.
On October 1, Rwandan police announced the arrest of 13 people belonging to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militant group, who were allegedly in possession of ingredients for the fabrication of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in preparation for attacks in Kigali, the country’s capital.
The ADF is a militant organisation with Ugandan roots that operates primarily in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Islamic State has designated the ADF as part of its Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), and the ADF is linked to Mozambique’s Islamic State-affiliated terrorists through personnel exchanges, fundraising, and recruiting networks. Those insurgents have also claimed allegiance to ISCAP, and Rwandan troops have been instrumental in driving them out of territories they formerly controlled around Mocmboa da Praia and Palma in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region since August 2021.
The planned strikes are the first documented instance of ADF-linked militants carrying out such actions in Rwanda, and they are likely to show an intention by ISCAP-linked militant groups to retaliate against countries whose forces are participating in military operations against them.
Existing networks of ISCAP sympathisers in the region – who have previously primarily focused on recruitment, fundraising, and facilitating militant movement, such as between eastern DRC and Cabo Delgado – are most likely to be used to prepare crude IED and suicide IED attacks with low explosive capabilities.
Most planned attacks will be vulnerable to security forces’ interruption and prevention due to a lack of appropriate experience and expertise among would-be assailants. Attacks are unlikely to result in many casualties or structural damage if they are carried out.
In Rwanda, aspirational targets include public spaces such as markets and bus stations (“taxi parks”), large churches, up-market entertainment venues, such as restaurants, bars, hotels, and shopping malls and government buildings and security forces’ headquarters in Kigali and Gisenyi, on the DRC border (where additional security precautions make successful attacks even less likely). Rwandan diplomatic posts and visiting government workers in East Africa are potentially likely targets, notably in Burundi, given the country’s ongoing security issues.
In Tanzania, an attempted small-arms or edged-weapon attack on people is still the most likely scenario. Tanzanian troops, along with Rwandan troops, are the sole ones fighting militants in Mozambique’s offensive operations. Insurgent sympathisers are undoubtedly planning revenge strikes on Tanzanian security personnel, but they are unlikely to be able to secure explosives or heavy equipment.
Insurgents will likely struggle to ship weapons and a large number of fighters out of Cabo Delgado by sea, given that South African, Tanzanian, and Rwandan vessels have been patrolling the coast of Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique and Rwandan troops have dislodged insurgents from most coastal towns.
The land border between Mozambique and Tanzania is heavily patrolled, making it difficult for insurgents to cross undetected. Some Tanzanian nationals who fought alongside the insurgents in Cabo Delgado have returned to northern Tanzania, where they are being closely monitored by Tanzanian intelligence services. Tanzania will almost certainly continue to serve as a transit point and recruiting ground for ISCAP-affiliated insurgents.
Apart from Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, and South Africa are all part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Military Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), with South Africa being the most likely target of a retaliatory assault.
A small group of people would most likely carry out such an attack, utilising crude IEDs, small weaponry, or edged weapons. According to credible media sources, insurgents in Mozambique have received money and other support from sympathisers in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Insurgent infiltration is improbable due to Cabo Delgado’s geographic distance from South Africa’s border. SAMIM began in July 2021 and was supposed to finish on October 15, but after a summit in South Africa, the mission was extended indefinitely.
If SAMIM is able to secure long-term funding, it will be more likely to stay in Mozambique until early 2022, allowing ISCAP-linked terrorists to carry out retaliation strikes against SADC countries.
The possibility of ISCAP-linked reprisal strikes in SADC nations would be reduced if SAMIM declared a rapid victory against the insurgency and withdrew by early 2022.
SOURCE: New Delhi Times