The United States and its partners in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS are focused on preventing a resurgence of the terror group in Iraq and Syria. They are also acutely aware of the danger ISIS is posing elsewhere, including in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the 2022 Global Terrorism Index, sub-Saharan Africa has emerged as the global epicenter of terrorism. Over the past year, the region has accounted for 48 percent of global terrorism deaths. As U.S. Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs Jeffrey DeLaurentis noted at a UN Security Council briefing, “ISIS and Al-Qaida affiliates continue to exploit Africa’s long-simmering conflicts to bolster their illicit activities, providing them with heightened lethality.”
That lethality was on tragic display earlier this year in two attacks in the DRC. On January 22, at least 23 people were killed in an attack in the village of Makugwe in North Kivu province. ISIS-DRC, also known as the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, claimed responsibility.
On January 15, the same group exploded a bomb in Pentecostal church in the city of Kasindi, leaving at least 14 people dead and wounding dozens. According to the United Nations, the ISIS-DRC is one of the deadliest Islamic State affiliates in Africa: since April 2022, it responsible for the killing of at least 370 civilians and the abductions of several hundreds more. The U.S. State Department designated the group as an Islamic State affiliate and Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2021.
At a press briefing, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price deplored ISIS’ despicable activity:
“We have consistently condemned ISIS-DRC for the cowardly attacks, bombings that they’ve carried out against the civilian population in this part of the DRC,” he said. “The fact that they would attack a church makes what they have done even more dastardly and contemptible.”
To counter ISIS in Central Africa, the United States has imposed sanctions on ISIS-DRC leaders and financiers. It is also working with African partners on governance, development, and security, underscoring what White House Homeland Security Advisor Liz-Sherwood Randall told the Security Council in November: “A successful counterterrorism strategy in Africa must always be built on and led by citizens of the countries that we are working to support.” The United States, she said, “stands with African Governments and the African people who are confronting this threat every day.”