Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP)
ISIS Democratic Republic of the Congo (ISIS-DRC)
Islamic State Mozambique (ISIS-Mozambique)
Madina Tawheed Waljihad
Madina Tawheed wal Muwahedeen
Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Congo
Alliance of Democratic Forces of Congo (AFDC)
The US Department of State on 10 March 2021 designated the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Democratic Republic of the Congo (ISIS-DRC) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Mozambique (ISIS-Mozambique) as Foreign Terrorist Organizations under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. The Department also designated ISIS-DRC and ISIS-Mozambique as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order 13224, while also designating respective leaders of those organizations, Seka Musa Baluku and Abu Yasir Hassan, as SDGTs.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced the launch of the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) in April 2019 to promote the presence of ISIS associated elements within Central, East, and Southern Africa. Although ISIS-associated media portray ISCAP as a unified structure, ISIS-DRC and ISIS-Mozambique are distinct groups with distinct origins.
ISIS-DRC, also known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen, among other names, is responsible for many attacks across North Kivu and Ituri Provinces in eastern DRC. Under the leadership of Seka Musa Baluku, ISIS-DRC has been notorious in this region for its brutal violence against Congolese citizens and regional military forces, with attacks killing over 849 civilians in 2020 alone, according to United Nations reporting on the ADF. The ADF was previously sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the United Nations under the UN Security Council’s DRC sanctions regime in 2014 for its violence and atrocities. The U.S. Department of the Treasury also sanctioned six ADF members, including leader Seka Musa Baluku, in 2019 under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program for their roles in serious human rights abuse, with a subsequent United Nations sanctions listing for Baluku in early 2020 under the DRC sanctions program.
The territorial losses of ISIL in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic and the weakened state of its Somalia affiliate were reported to have given momentum to Madina Tawheed Waljihad, a group that emerged in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in November 2017. Madina Tawheed Waljihad hoisted the ISIL flag and pledged allegiance to Baghdadi at its base in Medina, Beni Region, North Kivu. Although the ISIL core has not yet formally accepted the Madina Tawheed Waljihad pledge of allegiance, the group continues to try to communicate with them and to attract relocating foreign terrorist fighters to augment its ranks.
Some Member States attribute increased activities by Madina Tawheed Waljihad operatives, most of them self-radicalized lone actors, to Baghdadi’s 22 August 2018 speech instructing fighters to deploy to various locations, including Central Africa. Madina Tawheed Waljihad was further encouraged by Baghdadi’s April 2019 video, featuring a banner of the Islamic State’s Central Africa Province alongside its other affiliates, and started to operate under the Islamic State’s Central Africa Province banner.
In April 2019, IS declared its so-called Central African Province, known as ISCAP. Attacks attributed to its Central African Province affiliate have been limited to Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The threat from Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), an offshoot of Madina Tawheed wal Muwahedeen (MTM), continued to evolve. States from the region expressed concern throughout early 2019 about the increased momentum and frequency of operations by Islamic State’s Central Africa Province. Although at a nascent stage, they assess that the group had the potential to evolve, attract relocators from the region and beyond, and build connections with other ISIL affiliates in Africa. One Member State reported that ISIL in Somalia had been instructed by the ISIL core to move funds to other regional affiliates, including one instance in which it was tasked with providing financial support for operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In July 2019, MTM rebranded itself by replacing its logo with that of ISIL. According to some Member States, ISCAP membership consists of 2,000 local recruits and foreign terrorist fighters from Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda. Nevertheless, Member States asserted that it was unclear how the foreign fighter elements and the local fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces and MTM had been integrated into ISCAP and the functions they performed.
In the latter part of 2019, Ansar Al Suuna in Mozambique was added to ISCAP. Consequently, the online presence of ISCAP began combining footage from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Somalia, an indication of coordination or attempts to unify the three theatres. Additionally, Member States observed a striking improvement in the quality and content of propaganda materials, a possible indication of new funding and resourcing of the group. One Member State reported that operations in Mozambique were planned and commanded from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
From October 2014 to November 2019, upwards of 1,000 people had been massacred in Beni territory DRC. No group has claimed responsibility for any of these killings, but the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) were key actors, at times collaborating with Congolese armed groups. The Congolese government has also been involved in some massacres.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action 07 September 2018 targeting Waleed Ahmed Zein, a terrorist in East Africa who established an intricate worldwide financial network to facilitate funds transfers for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Zein served as an important ISIS financial facilitator in East Africa in recent years. He established an intricate ISIS financial facilitation network spanning Europe, the Middle East, the Americas and Eastern Africa. Between 2017 and early 2018, Zein moved over $150,000 through his complex network. He deposited large sums of money into a personal account, claiming that the money came from a vehicle and spare auto parts company owned by a family member. Zein was ultimately arrested by Kenyan security services in July 2018.
By late 2019, slements of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) pledged allegiance to the embryonic Islamic State-Central African Province (ISCAP). The Congo Research Group, an independent nonprofit at New York University run by leading scholars on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the militants not only espoused jihadist ideology, but also may have received funding from ISIS operatives.
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