Country Report on Terrorism 2013 - Chapter 2 - Democratic Republic of the Congo

Overview: Despite the limited threat of violent Islamist extremism in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the government has indicated serious concern about the threat of terrorism spreading throughout the region and has responded adequately to concerns. The DRC is a vast country bordered by nine neighbors; the Government of the DRC lacks complete control over some areas of its territory, especially in the East where various armed groups operate.

The three principal foreign armed groups operating in the DRC and posing a threat to security and stability are a Ugandan group called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (known by its French acronym as FDLR), and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). For most of 2013, the M23 was the deadliest armed group in the East, assassinating local leaders and killing and otherwise intimidating civilians. The M23 was militarily defeated in November of 2013 by the Congolese military, with UN peacekeeping support. While no longer the military threat to the Rwandan government it once was, the FDLR contributed to the destabilization of the eastern DRC through its atrocities against the local civilian population and residual potential for small-scale attacks inside Rwanda.

2013 Terrorist Incidents: Following a decrease in ADF attacks in 2012 and 2013 during the M23 rebellion, on December 13 and 14, the ADF reportedly killed 21 civilians in Beni Territory, North Kivu by hacking and beheading them with machetes. The ADF is also believed to be responsible for similar attacks on civilians in the same area, primarily women and children, in November. The Government of the DRC remains very concerned about the activities of this group and initiated a military campaign against it in late 2013.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported 164 presumed LRA attacks in 2013 in the DRC, resulting in 37 deaths and 180 abductions.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The DRC has no comprehensive counterterrorism legislation, but a 2001 presidential decree established a National Committee for the Coordination of Anti-International Terrorism within a counterterrorism office in its Ministry of Interior. The DRC President identified the elimination of the ADF, FDLR, Burundian National Front, and the LRA as the highest security priorities following the end of the M23 rebellion in November. The DRC government has made statements indicating that denying safe haven to the LRA remains a matter of great importance and has contributed to international efforts to eradicate the LRA in the DRC, notably by dedicating 400 FARDC troops to the AU-Regional Task Force.

The DRC government lacks the resources to detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism outside of narrow, small scale attacks in the eastern DRC. The national police and the intelligence services are identified as the primary lines of defense against terrorism under 2011 foundational legislation restructuring security services in the DRC.

The DRC government made some progress on its border security management program through training funded by the UN Stabilization Mission in the Congo and the international community in personal identification and recognition systems, border patrolling, and investigative procedures.

The DRC government has shown political will to cooperate with the U.S. on counterterrorism efforts despite a lack of resources.

Though threat of violent Islamist extremism in the country is limited, the government has shown the political will and ability to respond to the small-scale, localized threats that occurred in 2013. The government’s response, however, focused on military action rather than law enforcement, and weaknesses in border security allowed illicit crossing of people and goods.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The DRC is not a member of any Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. In 2011, the DRC signed a mutual assistance agreement with Belgium’s CTIF (Cellule des Traitements des Informations Financières).

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has legislation criminalizing money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as a financial intelligence unit (CENAREF). Many banks installed new computerized communications and accounting networks, which made it easier to trace formal financial transactions. Limited resources and a weak judicial system hampered the government’s ability to enforce anti-money laundering regulations, however, and local institutions and personnel lacked the training and capacity to enforce the law and its attendant regulations fully.

The DRC is home to a large Lebanese expatriate community, some of whom ran businesses reportedly linked to Hizballah funding. CENAREF received 145 suspicious transaction reports in 2013. CENAREF had 161 files for which the collection of information is continuing. CENAREF has also received 96 cases from other institutions or other sources. In 2013, the Government of the DRC had two money laundering convictions, which are a good reflection of the country’s ability to tackle illicit financial flows. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: The Government of the DRC continued to cooperate with neighboring states, especially the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Uganda, to counter LRA threats, as well as with Uganda on the ADF threat.