This report is based largely on an analysis of 35 videos posted on social media obtained by Bridgeway Foundation, mostly by one member of the ADF. While the intent of this individual is not fully known, some of the videos are aimed at recruiting new combatants. This is important, as the purpose of the videos influences the depiction of the organization. In other words, the combatants featured in the videos may be projecting an image of the group in order to persuade new recruits to join them, or to legitimatize themselves towards other jihadi groups, obfuscating facets of their organization that do not conform to those messages.

Similarly, CRG directly interviewed four former ADF combatants or dependents in Kampala and Beni, and obtained interview notes, transcripts, or audio recordings of 12 other interviews from Bridgeway Foundation. The defectors included nine former ADF members who had left the group in the past four years. While some of these interviewees had direct contact with senior leaders, none of them were part of the decision-making process of the organization, making it difficult to infer the ADF’s overall strategy, alliances, and motivations.

In keeping with these limitations, the goal of this briefing is not to provide a comprehensive understanding of the ADF, but rather to analyze the videos and, building on past documentation, to offer insights regarding current trends within the organization that could affect violence in the region.

The Congo Research Group is an independent, non-profit research project dedicated to understanding the violence that affects millions of Congolese. We are based at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.

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