Country Report on Terrorism 2018 - Chapter 1 - Democratic Republic Of The Congo

Overview: According to the UN, there are more than 100 armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), yet historically, the DRC has not acknowledged the presence of terrorist organizations in its territory. The international community has generally not referred to these armed groups as terrorists. For political purposes, the government of former President Joseph Kabila labeled domestic armed groups – such as the Kamwuina Nsapu rebel group in Kasai – and some opposition party members as “terrorists” for challenging DRC government authority or criticizing the president. However, the only armed group in the DRC with ties to a terrorist organization is the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) located in Beni Territory in eastern DRC, which ISIS has acknowledged as an affiliate. The ADF originated as a Ugandan rebel group but has been present in Beni for years, recruiting fighters from around the region. In 2018, as in previous years, the ADF was responsible for numerous attacks on civilians, the DRC military, and UN peacekeepers. A November 2018 study by the Congo Research Group, a New York University-affiliated NGO that tracks unrest in eastern DRC, concluded that the ADF demonstrated interest in increasing its ideological and financial links with broader jihadi movements comparable to ISIS. Online posts by some ADF members in 2016 and 2017, including a video presentation, referred to their group as Madina at Tawee Wa Mujahedeen and displayed an ISIS-like flag.

In November 2018, the U.S. government worked closely with the Government of the DRC to address terrorist threats against U.S. government facilities in Kinshasa. The DRC is a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

2018 Terrorist Incidents: In November, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa closed to the public for six days in response to a credible terrorist threat against U.S. government facilities in Kinshasa. Throughout 2018, the ADF attacked Congolese civilians, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC), and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) peacekeepers located in Beni Territory in eastern DRC. Human Rights Watch estimated that the ADF killed 235 civilians in Beni Territory between January and September 2018. On November 10, the ADF attacked Mayi Moya, north of Beni, and left a note on behalf of the ADF/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda stating the attack was in retaliation for MONUSCO and FARDC actions against the ADF. Seven MONUSCO peacekeepers and 15 FARDC soldiers were killed in joint anti-ADF operations in the Beni area in November.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The DRC has no comprehensive counterterrorism legislation. The DRC’s National Assembly passed a draft anti-terrorism bill in December, which stalled in the Senate. Civil society activists and others expressed concern that, if passed as written, the law could be used as another tool to suppress opposition parties and political dissent by portraying critics of President Kabila as “terrorists.” Courts used international law provisions, applicable domestic criminal law, and military law to prosecute criminals charged with terrorism-like crimes, such as the mass killing of civilians.

The DRC shares approximately 6,835 miles of land and lake borders with nine countries and lacks the capacity to effectively patrol its borders. The authority responsible for monitoring frontier activity, the Director General of Migration, uses the International Organization for Migration’s Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS), a computerized personal identification and recognition system, at only 20 of the DRC’s more than 400 official border crossings. Since 2010, the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) has trained roughly 900 border officers from the National Police’s (PNC) Direction Centrale de la Police des Frontieres Congolaise (Central Frontiers’ Police Directorate), which oversees security and surveillance activities at border crossings. High turnover rates prevalent throughout the PNC resulted in few INL-trained officers remaining with border units. The PNC anti-riot unit, the Légion Nationale d’Intervention, has a designated anti-terrorism squad, which has limited staff and receives no specialized training or equipment.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The DRC is a member of the Task Force on Money Laundering in Central Africa (GABAC), a FATF-style regional body. In August 2018, GABAC undertook a mutual peer review of the DRC to determine the levels of compliance with international AML/CFT standards. The DRC’s FIU, the National Financial Information Cell, is embedded within the Ministry of Finance.

Countering Violent Extremism: There were no changes in 2018.

International and Regional Cooperation: The DRC is a member of the Southern African Development Community and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.