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Security Brief: AFRICOM Week of April 3, 2022

Updated: Apr 11

April 3 - 6, 2022 | Issue 2

Isaac Clemons, Matthias Conti, Natalie Weidenbach, AFRICOM Team

Léopold Maisonny, Editor; Demetrios Giannakaris, Senior Editor


Nigerian Train[1]


Date: April 3, 2022

Location: Rutshuru Territory, North Kivu Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Parties involved: March 23 Movement (M23) militants; Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC); DRC Government; DRC citizens

The event: M23 militants held a meeting on Sunday, April 3, 2022, and threatened to resume the offensive across Rutshuru territory if the DRC government does not implement an improved disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program. The meeting occurred after the M23 rebels agreed to a ceasefire on Friday, April 1, 2022, with the FARDC.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • M23’s grievances over the slow implementation of the disarmament and reintegration program are very likely to spark new armed clashes across Rutshuru over the coming weeks, with escalating violence likely to lead to large-scale military operations against FARDC positions in the area. A renewed M23 offensive will likely push the FARDC out of the region and take control of specific areas, including military posts and checkpoints. The M23 will likely use their control over large territories such as around Runyonyi, Chanzu, and Bugusa, south-east of the administrative center of Rutshuru, to gain leverage in the reintegration program negotiations with the DRC government.

  • Displacement of local communities is very likely to follow M23’s threats. Communities that feel threatened by the M23 are very likely to flee their villages, likely moving towards Goma, Bunagana, and Uganda. The displacement of entire communities is very likely to disrupt transport, business and trade, including delivery of goods, likely affecting commercial activities. Attacks will very likely cause the suspension of humanitarian assistance programs, very likely leading to heightened food insecurity.

Date: April 4, 2022

Location: Near Kaduna City, Nigeria

Parties involved: Kaduna State Government; Nigerian Armed Forces; Unknown Terrorists; Nigerian Citizens; Nigerian Railway Corporation

The event: Unknown terrorists mined the tracks of a train traveling between Nigeria’s capital Abuja and Kaduna City. The terrorists used firearms to attack the train after it was stopped, killing seven people. They then abducted an unknown number of people. No major terrorist group has claimed responsibility. This is the second successful attack on the railway in the last six months.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Attacks on railways are likely to continue because of the success of the recent two attacks. Increased railway attacks are likely to drive the Nigerian Railway Corporation to increase the presence of armed security personnel. It is unlikely that the Nigerian Armed Forces will reassign soldiers to protect trains as they are likely unable to monitor the entire railroad.

  • Nigerian citizens are unlikely to continue using the trains as they become dangerous. This is likely to cause congestion as Nigerians will likely seek alternative transportation methods. Trucks will likely be used to transport people instead of goods, likely causing supply shortages of crucial food and medicine. Prices of goods are very likely to increase because of supply issues, likely leading to food insecurity.

  • Since no larger group claimed responsibility for the attack, local bandits are likely responsible for the attack. The criminals will likely raise funds by ransoming citizens abducted in the attack. There is a roughly even chance that the criminals will sell people to traffickers if the ransoms are not paid quickly.


Date: April 5, 2022

Location: Mogadishu, Somalia

Parties involved: Al Shabaab; Al-Qaeda; Al Shabaab senior member Mohamed Mahir; President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed; Prime Minister of Somalia Mohamed Hussein Roble; Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA)

The event: On April 4, NISA released a statement on Twitter that warned of a plot by senior Al Shabaab member Mohamed Mahir to target President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble. The report comes amidst parliamentary elections, and a month after, twin attacks on election delegates and a security base in Mogadishu killed 54 people. Historically linked with al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab’s attacks aim to topple the government and impose its version of Islamic law.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Targeted threats against Somalia’s President and Prime Minister are likely components of al Shabaab’s greater strategy to eliminate the government, and it is unlikely that NISA’s release of al Shabaab’s attack plans will deter the group from future attacks. The risk of future attacks on other election delegates and government officials is likely to increase. Somalia’s security forces will likely increase protection around election candidates and government officials until the election is over and the risk of violence decreases.

  • Al Shabaab’s targeted threat against Somalia’s President and Prime Minister has a roughly even chance of prompting election delegates to rescind their candidacy, likely delaying Somalia’s parliamentary elections. There is a roughly even chance that vacancies in Somalia’s parliament will lead to protests and violence between rival political factions. Increased political in-fighting is likely a component of al Shabaab’s strategy to induce unrest and disorder.


 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1]Nigeria Train.jpg” by LensEye Media licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

[2] RDC: suspens à Rutshuru, les rebelles du M23 observent leur cessez-le-feu unilatéral dans l’attente de dialogue avec Kinshasa, Actualite.CD, April 2022, translated by author https://actualite.cd/2022/04/04/rdc-suspens-rutshuru-les-rebelles-du-m23-observent-leur-cessez-le-feu-unilateral-dans

[3] Nigeria train attack leaves at least seven people dead, Africa News, April 2022, https://www.africanews.com/2022/03/30/nigeria-train-attack-leaves-at-least-seven-people-dead//

[4] Somalia’s intelligence agency warns of al Shabaab threat against top leaders, Reuters, April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/somalias-intelligence-agency-warns-al-shabaab-threat-against-top-leaders-2022-04-05/

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