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When on May 27, 2018, Islamist insurgents attacked two villages in Cabo Delgado, beheading 10 people with machetes, among them women and children, they caused outrage. The local chief of the village of Monjane was also among the dead. According to a local resident’s statement to AFP, he had disclosed information on the Islamists to the police.
US citizens urged to leave
Once more an African Jihadi group gained the world’s attention, only this time in East Africa. Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s northernmost province, has seen a rise in Islamist attacks in recent weeks that have left over 40 people dead. The increase in violence has led to fear among foreign investors and diplomatic missions in Mozambique. On June 8, local employees of Anadarko Petroleum, an American petroleum and natural gas exploration and production company, refused to appear at work due to fear of an armed attack. The US-embassy in the capital, Maputo, issued a warning for the Palma district of the Cabo Delgado province, urging all US citizens to consider departing the area immediately.
Al-Sunna wa Jama’ah
Information on the movement in question remains scarce. Even to the extent that its name is unclear. While referred to as al-Shabab (no relation with the Jihadi group of the same name in Somalia), other names such as Al-Sunna wa Jama’ah, Swahili Sunna – a reference to Swahili glory in the 19th century – or Ansar al-Sunna, have also appeared. The group that once emerged as a religious organisation in Cabo Delgado in 2015 turned into a guerrilla movement in 2016. In October 2017, the group gained greater prominence for the first time when 30 of its men attacked a police station in Mocimboa da Praia, killing two police officers and losing 14 of their own.
In response to the rise in Jihadi attacks, Mozambique’s government has begun to step up the presence of security forces in the area and several mosques suspected of preaching violence have been shut down. Defeating the Jihadis militarily turns out to be particularly tricky as they rely on the forests as an area of retreat. Attacking quickly and then pulling back to the wilderness makes them a target hard to acquire.
Poverty and government corruption
Security boosts alone will hardly be enough to solve the problem permanently. DW Martin Ewi, a security analyst at the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, said: ”This is a region of Mozambique that has claimed it is marginalised. Poverty is widespread, and most people blame their poverty on government officials who are very rich.”
Cabo Delgado provides a fertile ground for recruiting extremists. The province has a Muslim population of 56% and is full of riches. Ironically, its people are among the poorest in the country with high youth unemployment and marginal economic development. Security forces hardly enjoy the trust of the population of Cabo Delgado as there have been various accusations of abuse against them. As long as these circumstances remain, Cabo Delgado will continue to be an ideal territory for radical preachers to recruit followers.
By David Kampmann
Alchemy Global’s services for the oil, gas and energy industry
For anyone working in the oil, gas and energy industry in Iraq or elsewhere in territories that have a risk to life or to operations, please consider the following services provided by Alchemy Global.
We combine the use of GSM and satellite technology with access to privileged information on a huge number of destinations around the world, including big data analysis and social media monitoring. With a comprehensive communications suite, we allow companies to see a real time picture of their workforce’s movements while abroad, benefiting them from email and SMS notification.
With risk levels constantly changing around the world due to a security backdrop that is at the mercy of factors such as political and social developments, it has never been more important for organisations to exercise their duty of care and ensure employees have every necessary protection available to them.
Close Protection teams
Our experience in some of the world’s most challenging and dangerous locations and situations is at the heart of how we assess risk; so while we understand the need for confidentiality and discretion, our priority is to provide you with the right level of security for any given situation.
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With a portfolio covering 30 countries, from work with the banking and finance sectors to international sport and music events, as well as royalty and dignitaries, Alchemy Global offers an unmatched quality of travel and risk advisory services to both business and private clients.
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