Catholic Peacebuilding Network

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Recruitment of young Muslims in eastern Congo

March 12, 2015 • Fides Service

Kinshasa – Young Congolese Muslims are recruited in North and South Kivu, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The alarm is launched by some articles in the Belgian and Congolese press. “The phenomenon seems to have taken a worrying dimension”, says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Loris Cattani, a Xaverian missionary with a deep knowledge of the area. “In the report of the group of UN experts on the east of the DRC, the existence of relations between the Congolese armed groups and the Somali Shabaab have not been identified, however, the Congolese press articles raise the prospect of relations even with Boko Haram”, says the missionary.

There is already the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) in the area, a group of Ugandan origin that has expressed a strong jihadist ideology: it is accused among other things of the disappearance of three Assumptionist fathers of whom we have no news since October 2012 (see Fides 22/10/2012).
“I would not want the different African jihadist groups to create a bridge from Somalia to Nigeria and Mali, passing through the east of the DRC, Sudan, the Central African Republic and parts of Chad and Cameroon”, said Fr. Loris.

According to press reports, the young Congolese are sent by the Muslim Defense International in the area of Graben to be indoctrinated and trained in the use of arms. The area is a sort of “free zone” used to train young Islamist fighters from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan and Nigeria, who are then sent back to their countries of origin.
“The phenomenon is yet to be understood in its entirety, but it seems to me that based on what has emerged so far, it is time to ring the alarm bell about what is happening in this part of the Democratic Republic of Congo”, concludes Fr. Loris. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 12/03/2015)