Islamic State Central Africa Wilayat (ISCAP) and the growing threat in Central Africa

ISCAP and Central Africa
ISCAP has increasing its activity in Central Africa (Map Credits: ERCC – Emergency Response Coordination Centre, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 42 Issue 19
Author: Christian Tratzi

Executive Summary

In the last two weeks, the Islamic State Central Africa Wilayat (ISCAP) and its affiliate militia Forces démocratiques alliées (ADF) has significantly increased their activity in Central Africa, raising security risks related to terrorism and geopolitical instability in the region.

The Islamic State has reported a large number of actions directed against Christian communities in different villages, predominantly in the Congolese province of Beni, and has described a clash that occurred with Congolese Security Forces. The actions demonstrate ISCAP’s operational capability and its strategy to continue its campaign of expansion and violent attacks against religious minorities and military forces.

The expansion of the Islamic State in Central Africa could pose a danger to the security of the entire continent, considering the possibility of expansion into neighbouring countries alongside the simultaneous activity of other Islamic State’s branches.

ISCAP’s Activity in Central Africa: Background Information

The increase of ISCAP activity in Central Africa, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, constitutes a significant threat at the regional level. In particular, Islamic State fighters have attacked several Christian villages in the regions of Beni (Eastern Congo) and Ituri, resulting in a significant number of killings, beheadings, and woundings. At the same time, in a firefight with the Congolese army, ISCAP injured and kill several individuals, seizing part of the military personnel.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a vast territory and geopolitically unstable because of different factors, such as ethnic rivalries, resource competition, and weak governance. The current circumstances have created a favourable environment for the emergence and expansion of ISCAP, resulting in an escalation of both its membership and attacks. Vulnerable communities, particularly religious minorities such as Christians, endure the violence, further aggravating intercommunal tensions. ISCAP’s strategy encompasses assassinations, abductions, and large-scale attacks on civilians.

The terrorist group is also showing the willingness to expand its operations across borders, posing a broader regional security threat. Neighbouring countries, such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, are also at risk of being affected by ISCAP’s expansionist agenda, further complicating efforts to address the insurgency.

Risk Assessment

The region’s geopolitical landscape, characterised by a high level of instability and insecurity, connects to the resurgence of ISCAP activity in Central Africa. These conditions have favoured the emergence of the Islamic State, adept at exploiting weak state contexts and replacing institutions for the civilian population. In this way, ISCAP has managed to progressively acquire control over part of the territory.

The assaults on villages in the Beni and Ituri regions, which share borders with neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, could show a motive to broaden their sphere of operation. Possible encirclement also posed the threat to neighbouring countries, considering the presence of significant jihadist groups in the Horn of Africa.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently facing the most challenging struggle in the fight against regional terrorism, as evidenced by the numerous victims recorded in the past week and the attack on the Crusader Congolese Army. These actions demonstrate ISCAP’s extensive potential to carry out high-impact attacks and operations in the territory against civilians and institutions.

An enhancement of ISCAP could pose a significant risk to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the entire region, as the group’s operations have the potential to expand into neighbouring areas, leading to increased violence.

The escalation has the potential to amplify Islamic State propaganda in Africa, which has been consistently and rapidly expanding in the past two years, leading to a subsequent rise in the frequency of attacks. The lack of ability to establish stable state forces capable of countering the advance of the Islamic State may create favourable conditions for ISCAP to emerge as a prominent player in the region.


The recent surge in ISCAP activity in Central Africa poses a serious threat to regional security and stability. The high risk of a further increase in violence makes it necessary to create an international-level strategy capable of countering the operational capacity of the group.

It is important to prevent the Islamic State from being able to control large swathes of territory. Therefore, it is crucial to strengthen, where possible, state authorities and prevent the encirclement of certain areas through intelligence work and military intervention.

Considering the advance of the Islamic State in West Africa and the Sahel, it is essential to prevent the Islamic State, through its ISCAP province, from establishing itself as a leading force in Central Africa.

Read also | The Islamic State’s Geopolitical Agenda in The Horn of Africa: The Growing Threat of Terrorism in Mozambique.

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