The Allied Democratic Forces Attacks Two UN Peacekeepers in the DRC

On October 8th two United Nations peacekeepers were killed while 12 others were injured in an attack on UN military base in Goma of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The attack was carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) has been battling the ADF since 2014.

MONUSCO said it deployed attack helicopters in response to the raid. The UN helicopters fired on rebel positions inside Virunga National Park as Congolese troops fought to recover a stretch of road from the ADF.

UN troops also clashed with the ADF when the group attacked 10 civilian motorbike taxies, near the northeastern UN military base following the attack on the two peacekeepers.

Separately on October 7th, the ADF killed 22 others in an ambush in the Beni region of North Kivu Province, where state officials were coming from the border city of Nobili to spend the weekend.

Congolese authorities have blamed the ADF for many massacres of civilians between 2014 and 2016, killing more than 800 people.  More than 180,000 people have been displaced from and within the DRC.

The ADF were created in 1995, is primary located in the mountainous DRC-Uganda border area, and despite their name, the ADF are a jihadist rebel group. The Sudanese government during the 1990s were the initial funders of the ADF, it is not clear if they have stopped funding to the group.

There is also evidence from the Ugandan government that Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda linked terror organization, has provided fighters and weapons to the ADF. Jamil Mukulu, leader of the ADF was arrested in 2015. Mukulu is said to have held ties to Osama Bin Laden when both were living in Khartoum, Sudan in the 1990s.

The ADF also reportedly draws inspiration and recruits from Tablighi Jamaat, a Deobandi  interpretation from the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam, which was founded in India and is popular in South Asia.

Tablighi Jamaat was founded as a movement centered on proselytizing missions but has been viewed by some, including the U.S. government, as a “Terror Support Entity”, due to its role in recruiting and facilitating travel for known or suspected terrorists. However, the group claims it is not an international propagator of terrorism.

The ADF is considered a terrorist organization by the Ugandan government.

There are currently 18,316 total UN uniformed personnel operating in the DRC.

The eastern part of The DRC has continued to be plagued by recurrent waves of conflict since the 1994 Rwandan genocide when many Hutus fled into the DRC, to the 1997 second Congo war, which effected many African countries in the surrounding region up until 2003.

Congolese and foreign-backed groups, such as the ADF, have taking advantage of the power and security vacuums in the eastern parts of the country. As the situation continues to progress in the DRC, the UN has not acted swiftly to end the violence caused by the rebel group. While the ADF possess only an estimated 1,400 members, UN remains unable to end the conflict through military intervention in the regions in the northeast of the DRC and on the Ugandan border.