Africa’s Islamic State-linked ADF
November 18, 2021 - The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is a long-standing insurgent group with Ugandan roots currently operating in the mountains of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The ADF was founded in 1995 by Tabliq Muslims and non-Muslim rebels to fight against Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and his regime.
By the early 2000s, severely weakened by Museveni’s armed forces, ADF attacks in Uganda were limited. In 2005, the Congolese army launched the first of many operations against the ADF. Many more would follow, shifting the ADF’s focus from hitting Uganda to defending against DRC assaults.
In 2013, against the backdrop of another intensive Congolese army operation, the ADF re-emerged with a string of massacres in Congo’s North Kivu province. During a Congo army counter-operation, ADF leader Jamil Mukulu fled to Tanzania.
Seka Musa Baluku, Mukulu’s second-in-command and the ADF’s political commissar, became its leader in his absence. The Baluku-led ADF dramatically escalated its attacks on civilians. At the same time, behind the scenes, it sought to align with the so-called Islamic State (IS) and join the global jihadist movement.
The arrest of Waleed Ahmed Zein, a Kenyan national and IS financial facilitator, in July 2018 revealed that he had moved more than $150,000 to terrorist groups, including the ADF.
But it was not until April 2019 that IS acknowledged its activity in the Congo, announcing the IS’s “Central Africa Province” (ISCAP).
According to the UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, ISCAP has killed about 200 civilians and displaced nearly 40,000 others in Beni since January 2021.