AFRICA/DR CONGO - Are the massacres in North Kivu carried out by true jihadists?

Thursday, 23 March 2017 jihadists   armed groups   massacres  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Since the beginning of October 2014, the population of the territory Beni (North Kivu - DRC) has been the victim of a series of kidnappings and massacres, where more than a thousand people have died.
The Congolese government blames the violence on a group of Ugandan rebels of Islamic inspiration, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), calling them the jihadist terrorist group. According to the government, the ADF are in contact with other jihadist groups like Al Shabaab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Such view is proven by the presence of Ugandans, Somalis, Kenyans, Chadian and Sudanese in the ADF. "But the jihadist thesis of the government is not at all convincing. It could be a simple expedient to capture the sympathy of the international community, which is also a "victim" of a certain form of international terrorism", says a note sent to Fides by the Peace Network for Congo.
The massacres in fact are never claimed as instead those committed by jihadi groups in other parts of Africa, for example Boko Haram in Nigeria or Shabaab in Somalia. The ADF do not follow a logical recruitment of new believers in view of the expansion of a caliphate in the Great Lakes region of Africa, but a logic of territorial settlement. In them, one can observe a settlement strategy in certain areas of the territory of Beni where the local population can no longer access. As for alleged foreign members, it is difficult to think about whether we are dealing with "Foreign Fighters" who arrived in Congo to enlist in a hypothetical jihad. It is rather foreigners already present on Congolese soil for several years, if not decades, for political, economic or professional reasons.
"According to another theory, the true perpetrators of these crimes regard the same government and people of Rwandan origin whose goal would be to balkanize the region", the statement said. "This was also the perspective of Fr. Vincent Machozi, Assumptionist religious murdered on the night of 20 March 2016 (see Fides 22/03/2016 and 21/03/2017). Shortly before he was killed, on his website Beni-Lubero, he had accused Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame to be the real instigators of the massacres. According to him, the two Presidents favored an atmosphere of terror in order to force the local population to abandon their lands, rich in timber and minerals, to allow a new population from Rwanda to settle. In his last message before his assassination, Father Machozi had written: «Muslim tunics help to create confusion to hide the Rwandan face of occupation, already too visible to everyone's eyes»". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 23/03/2017)


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