The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, has become the most loyal group to the terrorist organization ISIS.
The emerging newborn in Africa, on which ISIS depends to control the continent, is one of the most active and violent armed groups in central Africa, where the group was responsible for the killing of hundreds during recent years, which prompted the United States to issue several warnings of the expansion of ISIS in Africa through this group.
The Allied Democratic Forces was established in 1995 from groups hostile to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, seeking to overthrow the government, defend the rights of the Tablighi Jamaat, and establish an Islamic state there. They were originally based in western Uganda, but they were also active in border areas between Uganda and the Congo and then expanded into the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The ADF is stationed in the border areas between Congo and Uganda, choosing these areas due to the ideal terrain in the Rwenzori Mountains, as well as the forests and bushes near Lakes Albert and Edward, which are difficult for government forces to access but easy for its elements to establish bases and recruit fighters, in addition to the ethnic presence that rejects the central government in these areas, especially the Nandi ethnicity.
Over the course of the decades-long conflict, the ADF did not show any commitment to its original goal of establishing an Islamic state, with the exception of its use of the term “tawhid” (monotheism), while there were media reports about a desire to change its name. Since 2012, the group has used the name “the City of Monotheism and Monotheists” in its publications.
Affiliation with ISIS
In February 2018, the Congolese forces said that they had found materials and books belonging to ISIS in the possession of ADF fighters in the Beni region in the east of the country, where funds were paid by ISIS financial facilitator Waleed Ahmed Zain, who was arrested in Kenya in July 2018, at least once to the ADF between early 2017 and June 2018.
In conjunction with what was said about ISIS’s payment of these funds, the ADF began thinking about changing the movement’s name to “the City of Monotheism and Monotheists,” according to intelligence reports. However, it also has its own means of financing through cutting trees, exporting timber, extracting gold and trading in ivory, in addition to a network of taxis and motorbikes operating between Butembo, Beni and Oicha.
According to observers, it is unclear whether the ADF receives orders directly from the leaders of ISIS or act more independently, stressing at the same time that these terrorist militias have adopted some brutal tactics that appeared for the first time by ISIS during the period of the latter’s control over large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Expansion in Africa
Terrorist attacks in the Congo recently showed the extent of the expansion of ISIS throughout Africa, as 15 civilians were killed on Thursday, December 23, in attacks launched by the ADF in northeastern DRC, while 38 militants were killed in battles with the army.
Janvier MusukeKenyongo, a local official in the Congo, confirmed that three civilians were killed on Saturday, December 25, in an attack by this terrorist group on Ngaybanda, a village in Ituri province, saying, “Terrorists are roaming the area. Two days ago, we buried nine people they killed,” according to AFP.
According to a report by the Washington Times, Katherine Zimmerman, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) who tracks fundamentalist terrorism in Africa, confirmed that the consistent activity of ISIS across Africa reflects the movements of al-Qaeda and its affiliate groups, including the Somali terrorist movement Al-Shabaab, where both networks pose direct threats to the West, especially Europe, pointing out that there should be a stance by the United States and its allies because of the way in which the terrorist threat has developed on a global level.
During the summer of 2021, the ADF posted several videos online of hostage beheadings and carried out several car bomb attacks, as well as at least two suicide bombings, including a recent attack in Beni during the holidays. It has also killed hundreds across the Congo and displaced at least 140,000 of the country’s citizens, according to data compiled by the Counter Extremism Project, the Washington Times reported.