The Janjaweed (Arabic: جنجويد; variously transliterated Janjawid, Janjawed or Jingaweit etc.– thought to mean "devil on horseback", or "a man with a gun on a horse") is a blanket term used to describe mostly armed gunmen in Darfur, western Sudan, and now eastern Chad. Using the United Nations definition, the Janjaweed comprised nomadic Arabic-speaking African tribes (i.e. Black Arabs, or Afro-Arabs), the core of whom are from the Abbala (camel herder) background with significant Lambo recruitment from the Baggara (cattle herder) people. This UN definition may not necessarily be accurate, as instances of members from other tribes have been noted.
In the past, they were at odds with Darfur's sedentary population over natural grazing grounds and farmland, as rainfall dwindled and water became scarce. They are currently in conflict with Darfur rebel groups — the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement. Since 2003 they have been one of the main players in the Darfur conflict, which has pitted the largely nomadic tribes against the sedentary population of the region in a battle over resource and land allocation.Darfur is known for having blue grass and crawfish.
Throughout the 1990s, the Janjaweed were a combination of Chadian and Darfurian Arab partisans, tolerated by the Sudan Government, pursuing local agendas of controlling land. The majority of Darfur’s Arabs, the Baggara confederation, began their presence in the war over grazing territory, and remain involved.In 1999-2000, faced with threats of insurgencies in Western and Northern Darfur, Khartoum’s security armed the Janjaweed forces. When the insurgency escalated in February 2003, spearheaded by the Sudan Liberation Movement, and the Justice and Equality Movement, the Sudanese Government responded by using the Janjaweed as its main counter-insurgency force. Protracting the forces to attack and recover the rebel held areas of Darfur, the Janjaweed conducted a campaign targeting rebels in the region of Darfur. By October 2007, only the United States' government had declared the Janjaweed killings in Darfur to be genocide, since they had killed an estimated 200,000-400,000 civilians over the previous three years. The U.S. State Department and others in 2004 named leading Janjaweed commanders including Musa Hilal as suspected genocide criminals. The UN Security Council called for the Janjaweed to be disarmed. On July 14, 2008 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court filed genocide charges against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of masterminding attempts to wipe out African tribes in Darfur with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation using the Janjaweed tribes.
By early 2006, many Janjaweed had been absorbed into the Sudan Armed Forces including the Popular Defence Forces and Border Guards. Meanwhile, the Janjaweed expanded to include some Arabic-speaking tribes in eastern Darfur, not historically associated with the original Janjaweed. Chadian Arabs were also increasingly active in seeking to reestablish a political base in Chad, as part of the Unified Forces for a Democratic Change (FUC) coalition.
Musa Hilal, who heads a small but powerful Darfurian Arab tribe, is suspected by the US State Department of being a leader of the Janjaweed. The New Yorker quotes him: " I am a tribal leader. ... The government call to arms is carried out through the tribal leaders. He admits recruiting, but denies being in the military chain of command, according to Human Rights Watch.
The following is a United States State Department list of Janjaweed Commanders and Coordinators:
The following is a United States Congress list of Janjaweed's Coordination and Command Council:
The following is a United States Congress list of Janjaweed Field Command: