The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has authorized the deployment of US special forces to his country to help fight the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said in a statement Sunday that the US troops would “provide support to the [army] in the fight against terrorism and to the guardians of the Virunga and Garamba national parks, which have become a sanctuary for terrorist forces.”
US Ambassador to the DRC Mike Hammer said that the troops would arrive in the country’s capital Kinshasa on Friday to “conduct an assessment of a future Congolese counter-terrorism team.” It’s not clear at this point how many special operations soldiers are being deployed. Tshisekedi said the US troops will be in the country for several weeks.
The ADF is a militant group that started in Uganda and has been blamed for massacres in the DRC. The US claims the ADF is linked to ISIS, but a UN investigation found no evidence that links the two groups besides public statements.
In March, the State Department blacklisted the ADF as a terrorist organization and referred to the group as “ISIS-DRC.” In July, a report from the UN Group of Experts on the Congo said such labels were benefiting both ISIS and ADF. The report said such statements were “complementing and amplifying ADF local propaganda and suggesting increased global reach for ISIL.”
The report said the Group of Experts “did not however find conclusive evidence of ISIL command and control over ADF operations, nor of ISIL direct support to ADF, either financial, human or material.”
The US is quick to label militants in Africa as affiliates of ISIS or al-Qaeda, even though it plays into propaganda efforts. More importantly for Washington, such affiliation justifies US military intervention.