The Islamic State in Congo: Evolution from its Ugandan Origins, Push and Pull Factors that Resulted ADF Becoming DRC Chapter of ISCAP

    There  is no  ADF anymore.  Allah willing,  ADF ceased to  exist  a long time  ago.  [...] Currently,  we  are  a province,  the  Central Africa Province  which is one  province  among the  numerous  provinces  that  make  up the  Islamic  State  that  is under  the  Caliph and Leader  of  all Muslims...Abu Ibrahim  al-Hashimi al-Quraishi.”  -  Musa Baluku, September  2020

    Program on Extremism, George Washington University, TARA CANDLAND, ADAM FINCK, HARORO J. INGRAM, LAREN POOLE, LORENZO VIDINO, CALEB WEISS                    March 2021

    Executive  Summary

    This report  systematically  examines  how  the  efforts  of the  Islamic  State  to  expand  globally and the  aspirations  of  Musa Baluku’s  Allied  Democratic  Forces  (ADF)  merged in  a mix  of push  and  pull  factors  that resulted  in  the  ADF  becoming  the  Democratic  Republic  of the Congo (DRC)  chapter  of  the  Islamic State  in  Central  Africa Province  (ISCAP).  Based largely  on  primary  sources,  including a unique  collection  of  defector  and local  source accounts,  it  tracks  the  ADF’s  evolution  from  its  Ugandan  origins  to  being part  of a  formal province of  the Islamic  State,  revealing  unique insights  into  the group’s  inner  workings and  its  efforts  to  build  transnational  networks  to  support its  operations.  

    The report’s  key  findings  include:  

    ●  The  ADF’s  ties with the  Islamic  State  may  have  started  as  early  as  2017.  By  2018, ISCAP  was acknowledged as  a formal  province  of  the  Islamic State,  and in  April 2019, ISCAP  attacks  in the  DRC  were  first formally  claimed  by  the  Islamic  State’s  central media  units.  The  debate  should  no longer  concern  whether  the  ADF has  a  formal relationship  with  the  Islamic  State  but rather focus  on  the  nature  of that  relationship.    

    ●  While  there  is  currently  no evidence  of  direct  command and control  orders  from  the Islamic  State  to  the  ADF,  the  evolution  of  the  ADF’s  operational  and  strategic activities under Baluku’s  leadership  suggests  that  the  group is  seeking  to  implement  the  Islamic State’s  aqeeda  (creed) and  manhaj  (method).  This is most  notable  in  the  ADF’s propaganda output,  content, and  rhetoric  that reflect the  Islamic  State’s  influence  on the  group.  

    ●  There  is  growing evidence  to suggest  that  the  ADF  has  established communication links with the  Islamic  State  as evidenced  by ISCAP’s DRC-based  elements  featuring  in messaging  by  its  central  media units  since  2019  (although  retroactively  claiming an attack  in  2018).  Human  source  reporting also suggests  that  financial  links  have  been established between  Islamic State  entities  and the  ADF.  The  ADF has  a history  of foreign  outreach,  and  it  continues  to leverage  its  transnational  networks  for  funding, recruitment,  and logistics.

    ●  Given  the frequency  with  which  ADF  activities  in  the  DRC  have appeared  in  Islamic State media  messaging  since 2019,  it  is  evident  that  the Islamic  State is  leveraging these  activities  to  demonstrate  that it remains  a  relevant and  active  movement with  a broad transnational  reach,  despite  its  loss  of  territorial  control  across  Syria and Iraq. With formal Islamic  State  affiliates  and  pro-Islamic State  groups  dotted across  Africa, the  potential  for  transnational  collaboration  and the  migration  of  increased numbers of regional  foreign  fighters  may  threaten  regional  stability.   While  this  report  seeks  to address  some  crucial  gaps  in  the  research  field,  it  also aims  to bring  strategic  policy  attention  to  what are  urgent security  and  humanitarian  issues  in  the DRC that are  being  exacerbated  by  the  Islamic  State’s  influence.


    The Islamic State in Congo by Evarist Chahali on Scribd

    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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