The Islamic State, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Militancy Over the Past Decade

Yesterday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for its first attacks in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In one of the claims, IS states that these attacks occurred within its so-called ‘Wilayat Wasat Ifriqiya’ (Mid/Central Africa). Wassim Nasr notes that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has talked about this ‘wilayah’ previously in his August 22, 2018 speech. Interestingly, in al-Baghdadi’s speech following the announcement of IS’s self-proclaimed Caliphate in July 2014, he mentions the Central African Republic, but not the Democratic Republic of Congo. CAR has been a topic jihadis in general have discussed more so than DRC historically.

As Caleb Weiss highlights however, there is a history of connections between IS and some militant groups in the country. Since this is such an under-covered phenomenon, I thought it would be useful to share resources related to this topic to help contextualize and better understand it based on content I have saved over the years. It is not a ton, but better than nothing. If anyone wants to add anything to the following dossier let me know and I will post it so there is a fuller picture. From oldest to most recent.

January 17, 2013:

Authorities on alert after al-Shabaab, Ugandan militants join forces

July 1, 2014:

U.S. imposes sanctions on Islamist group in Congo for targeting children

January 9, 2015:

The Rise of ADF-NALU in Central Africa and Its Connections with al-Shabaab – The Jamestown Foundation

February 19, 2015:

New insights on Congo’s Islamist rebels – The Washington Post

May 11, 2015:

Congo seeks extradition of Islamist rebel chief from Tanzania – Reuters

September 27, 2016:

Jihadis in Congo? Probably not

December 26, 2016:

Rebels Blamed for Killing 25 With Machetes in Congo

December 8, 2017:

Islamist attack kills at least 15 UN peacekeepers and five soldiers in DRC – The Guardian

February 23, 2018:

Congo Army gruesomely destroys base of Islamist rebel group – Business Insider

May 24, 2018:

AU confirms ISIS infiltration in countries, including Somalia – Shabelle

July 31, 2018:

The Islamic State in East Africa

November 2, 2018:

Violence and Viruses_ How a Poorly Armed Insurgency in the Congo Poses a Global Threat – Jamestown

November 14, 2018:

Inside the ADF Rebellion A Glimpse into the Life and Operations of a Secretive Jihadi Armed Group

November 15, 2018:

Financier of Islamic State paid money to rebel group in eastern Congo: report – Reuters

November 24, 2018:

U.S. says receives credible terrorist threat against facilities in Congo – Reuters

December 3, 2018:

Threat from Islamic State-Affiliated Group Reason DRC US Embassy Closed

December 4, 2018:

The tentative ties between the Allied Democratic Forces and ISIS

December 7, 2018:

Militants kill at least 18 civilians in Congo’s Ebola zone – Reuters

February 9, 2019:

Trends in the Spread of Radical Islam in Africa: The Case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – Modern Diplomacy

April 18, 2019:

Islamic State claims attack in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – FDD’s Long War Journal

Islamic State claims: