The Allied Democratic Forces, a militant group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has become part of the Islamic State, and Uganda has sent troops into Congo after a series of bombings in Kampala. The ADF’s local-transnational hybrid nature, and the shifts in capacity they have brought, complicate efforts to effectively confront the group.
In April 2019, Islamic State propaganda channels began issuing claims of attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a long-standing Islamist rebel group operating in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Taking many by surprise, the seeming integration of the ADF into the Islamic State’s network of affiliated local insurgencies as a branch of its “Central Africa Province” has generated sustained debate over the veracity, nature, and policy implications of the relationship between the ADF and the Islamic State. As the ADF continues to expand its areas of operation in Congo, displace tens of thousands, attract recruits from across the region, and use its Congolese holdings to stage attacks abroad, understanding these ties and their implications is a critical foundation for understanding the ADF’s trajectory, its impact on Congo and the region, and appropriate policy responses.
The emergence of the Islamic State’s “Central Africa Province” has been met with skepticism by some analysts of Congo’s myriad internal conflicts, which have simmered and raged since the “end” of the Second Congo War in 2003.