Jihadist Activity in Northern Mozambique: Why Is That?

By Scott Morgan

Once again, the Jihadist threat is spreading Southward in Africa. While most security specialists have been focused on West Africa and its vast areas of poorly governed or ungoverned spaces the focus is on the Indian Ocean Coast.

Within the last thirty days, there have been two attacks in Mozambique. The most recent assault took place on the 5th of June in Macomia (located in the Province of Cabo Delgado) resulting in the deaths of at least seven people. The attack that occurred in May 2018 in the village of Palma resulted in the beheading of at least 10 people - including two children.

There are several questions that beg to be answered. The first question always seems to be why? Local media has reported that the attacks in Mozambique began with the targeting of Police Stations back in October 2017. Since there had been no previous reports of active Jihadist Activity in the Country, the police has shown a reluctance to determine whether or not the attacks are in fact the actions of Jihadist Elements.

Some reports have asserted that the attackers are in fact members of Al-Shabaab. This is a Jihadist Group that first rose to prominence launching operations in Somalia, and in recent years it has made its presence felt in Northeastern Kenya. There has been a major international effort to restore a functioning Central Government in Mogadishu for the first time in decades. The effort to restore civil authority to the rest of the Government has forced the group to seek a new base of operations.

So Why Mozambique? 

Is there a community that needs to be defended? Jihadist Groups have used this tactic to address a perceived slight against Muslims in other parts of Africa. Another thing that borne true is their use of trade routes to move across borders with impunity. The ability of one side in a conflict to use terrain to their advantage has proven to be a key factor in preparing actions such as ambushes and other attacks in order to have the other side move to plans which have been drawn up and initiated.

Another factor that could be at play here is a conflict to be exploited. The Most recent Presidential Elections showed that there were cracks within the ruling party FRELIMO. The New leadership sought to exclude his previous predecessor from any further dealings with State Activities. Clearly there was an opportunity seen here and the Jihadists have taken advantage of it.

The clock is ticking. How long will it take for Maputo to ask assistance to deal with this emerging threat? How long until India realizes that its interest in the Natural Gas sector may come under threat? Mozambique is important to both Malawi and Zimbabwe for both Energy supplies and food via rail. There have been no signs of threats against the Railroad sector yet but the most important word in that sentence is the word yet.

The threat to Mozambique is real and most likely in the infancy stage. The Security Forces and the Government are not certain about how to deal with the crisis yet. They are acting like they fear a presence of outsiders that promise to come in and deal with threat but never leave.

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society. © 2007-2018 Author(s) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED]


  1. Hi Morgan,

    "Is there a community that needs to be defended?"

    No. Muslims have been in Mozambique for centuries and have never been involved in problems before. It is also worthy noting that the local Muslim community was the first to warn the government in Maputo of the infiltration of Jihadist elements in Mozambican territory. In this aspect, it could be said that this Islamic community is an example for other communities around the world.

    "Another factor that could be at play here is a conflict to be exploited. The Most recent Presidential Elections showed that there were cracks within the ruling party FRELIMO."

    Indeed. As usual, these Jihadist groups take advantage of any sign of destabilisation to take over countries.

    "How long will it take for Maputo to ask assistance to deal with this emerging threat?"

    Good question. I would like to remind Maputo that Israel and the US offered help in 2009 (way before these troubles occurred, certainly based on chatter picked up in fora) and the previous administration refused...why? Because President Guebuza is well embedded with the Pakistanese and the Lebanese...

    Good job, Morgan.


  2. It's embarrassing what's happening in Africa cause it's all their leaders' fault. They chose to let those Arabs in and they hate black people too, so it's on African leaders this mess! Good to see Mozambique mentioned here.

  3. Give us a break Africa: just kick those Arabs out already! Can't politicians see there's a deliberate plan to destroy the continent? But who cares, right, as long as they can stash their stolen cash in Europe...?

  4. Coincedental timing; https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/mozambique


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