Skip to main content
USF Libraries Exhibits

Militia Groups Against Invasion


Source: Waging Peace Darfuri Children's Drawings. Sudan Liberation Army standing up against Janjaweed and government of Sudan invasion.

As early as 1964, two clandestine rebel groups were formed: the al-Lahid al-ahmar (Red Flame) and Soony. These groups were composed mainly of the Fur tribe. Their sole aim was to agitate for equality among tribes in Darfur--especially the distribution of resources and job opportunities, as most of the jobs and resources were being controlled by the Arab tribes.  In the 1980s the Arab tribes formed the Janjaweed and Fursan militia groups that battled the Fur and killed many of them. In retaliation, the Fur, using their militia group, the Malishiyat, burned pastures belonging to the nomadic Arab tribes.

In the 1980s the non-Arab rebel group, the Darfur Liberation Front (DLF), mainly composed of fighters from the Fur and Massalit tribes, fought to safeguard the non-Arab tribes from attacks by Arab militia. On Friday April 25, 2003, the Darfur Liberation Front (DLF), later the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), attacked the Sudan government's military installations in Al-Fasher. The objective of the attack was to require the government of Sudan to look into the plight of the economically marginalized non-Arab tribes in Darfur. This rebel group also wanted to have an economic, social and political power-sharing mechanism with the governmet of Sudan. 


Source: Waging Peace Darfuri Children's Drawings. Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) confronts attackers.

Instead of addressing concerns of the non-Arab tribes, the government and armed Janjaweed militia mercilessly attacked non-Arab civilians. To save civilians from being annihilated, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) fought back to defend civilians and to advance their cause. During this attack, SLM captured ammunition, trucks (land cruisers) and destroyed military planes that were used to attack civilians. With the ammunition they captured, SLM was able to mount stiff resistance against the Janjaweed and Sudanese military.

Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) was another rebel group established in 2002 by members of non-Arab tribes and was mainly composed of the Zaghawa. JEM wanted a united, democratic, and Islamic Sudan with empowered regions, including an immediate revised constitution. On December 27, 2003, JEM attacked Janjaweed militia and killed many of them near Tine, a town near the border with Chad. In January 2004, Sudan's troops and the Janjaweed tried to take Tine, but JEM was able to defend the town and inflict many casualties on the government and Janjaweed side.

In 2006, JEM and SLM merged to form The Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan, which became a formidable force against the government of Sudan by coordinating their political and military capability.