UN experts have established that the ADF rebels, active in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and accused of the attack on a high school in Uganda last Friday, were receiving financial support from the Islamic State (ISIS) group. The experts’ report, consulted by AFP on Monday, also reveals that the ADF rebels were seeking to expand their area of operations.
The ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) are among the most deadly armed groups in the eastern DRC, held responsible for the killing of thousands of civilians. Originally Ugandan rebels, they have been present in the DRC since the 1990s. In 2019, they pledged allegiance to ISIS, which claims them as its “central African province” (ISCAP) and takes responsibility for some of their actions.
However, the funding provided by ISIS to the ADF had not been documented until now. The UN panel of experts on the DRC states in its latest report, to be released this week, that ISIS has been providing financial support to the ADF since at least 2019. This support involves a complex financial system that includes individuals in several countries on the continent. The funds originate from Somalia and pass through South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda.
The experts further disclose that the ADF has been sending fighters and collaborators on reconnaissance missions to extend their area of operations beyond the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. They have sought to recruit and carry out attacks not only in Kinshasa but also in the Congolese provinces of Tshopo, Haut-Uélé (north-east), and Sud-Kivu.
Ugandan officials accuse the ADF of conducting a raid on a secondary school near the Congolese border last Friday, resulting in the death of at least 41 people. Despite a joint offensive launched by Uganda and the DRC in 2021 to drive the ADF out of their strongholds, the group’s attacks continue.
In addition to the ADF rebels, the UN experts’ report highlights Rwanda’s support for the M23 rebels in North Kivu. This finding confirms their previous reports, although Rwanda denies it. The experts have obtained further evidence of direct interventions by the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) on DRC territory. They have also identified several RDF commanders and officials coordinating operations in the DRC.
The report emphasizes that the security and humanitarian situation in the provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu has been deteriorating continuously.