Why IS involvement is exaggerated


A man passing by a store with shutters

Residents of Parma in northern Mozambique are under attack and are about to return to normal

A recent rebel raid on the town of Mozambique in Parma made a global headline because foreigners were killed and the Islamic State group said it was behind the conflict four years ago in Mozambique. Dr. Analyst wrote that it led to a sharp division of how to interpret. Joseph Hanlon.

Gray line for a short presentation

Gray line for a short presentation

Until last year, Parma was always a sleepy fishing village until it transformed into a thriving hub for Mozambique’s fast-growing gas industry.

French company Total has begun developing a $ 20 billion (£ 14.6 billion) gas liquefaction plant for Africa’s second largest gas reserves.

Total has developed a unique walled complex with a runway and pier on the Ahungi Peninsula, 10 km (6 miles) south of Parma. However, the contractor and service industries were all based in Parma. In Parma, there was a boom in the construction of hotels, banks and construction yards.

When armed groups invaded on March 24, they were attacking a rapidly growing town with more than 1,000 foreign workers associated with significant foreign investment and the gas industry.

Just two weeks ago, the United States labeled the insurgents “ISIS-Mozambique” and designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).

Four days after the attack, Amaq News Agency, a member of the Islamic State group, issued a statement claiming that the fighter attacked Parma and destroyed government agencies and banks.

Claims are revealed

It became a hot topic as IS claimed to attack Parma.

CBS News called it the “siege of the Isis radicals,” and hundreds of foreign workers were terrified. The British Daily Mirror called it “Islamic” and “Jihadist massacre.” The British Times had previously headlined: Isis militants attack a town in Mozambique that houses foreign workers.

But on the same day, IS’s allegations were revealed before some of the newspaper headlines were released.

Jasmine Opperman, an African analyst at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (Acled), who closely tracks the rebellion in Mozambique’s Cabo del Gado, said the video and photos were not from Palma, but 65 km from Mosin Boada South showed that it was from Praia.

Four soldiers riding a motorcycle in Parma

Mozambique soldiers are on the streets of Parma, as seen in this photo taken on Monday

One of the first things armed groups do in an attack is to break all communication links, primarily by using a machete to cut the cable.

In Parma, the mobile phone was disconnected only 30 minutes after the attack began. Therefore, IS and Amaq had no information about the assault. The only claim, not just false photographs, was vague, already published in the international media.

This claim was also the first claim from IS or Amaq regarding Mozambique for five months.

In 2019, armed groups linked with IS and seemed to be primarily advertised, sending mobile video. Widely released photos show armed groups with a black IS flag in front of the burned-out district administration building, as they continued to emphasize that their target was government.

However, the militants continued to use the name al-Shabaab given by the locals. This simply means “youth” and has nothing to do with Somali al-Shabaab.

As Acled, the closest and most reliable monitor to the Cape Delgado conflict Conclusion in a recent report: “There is no evidence from the Parma attack that IS dominates the strategic direction of the rebellion.”

Who are the armed groups?

The rebels were primarily Muslims in the coastal areas of Cabodelgado and were adopted by local fundamentalist preachers who basically had a message of socialism-Shariah, or Islamic law, brought equality and everyone Will share the wealth of upcoming resources.

Teachers teach students in an outdoor class at an elementary school near Mahate in Pemba.

The conflict has displaced tens of thousands of people, including children currently studying in temporary schools.

The first attack was in 2017 against Mosinbo Ada Praia, the only city and port in the northern zone. The message and promise of work and money led many young men to participate in the rebellion, which gained support in the local community.

The war spread to six districts, attacking the capitals of five districts except Parma and occupying them for some time. Armed groups have dominated Mosinbo Ada Praia and the only paved road for a year.

A report based on an interview with a woman fleeing armed groups in Parma was published on April 12 by João Feijó, technical director of the Mozambique Rural Observatory (OMR) and one of Mozambique’s most informed researchers. It has been published.

Women claim that some leaders are Tanzanians and some are IS, and Somali stubbornly state that they are not IS, but part of another unidentified group. It revealed that.

Town looted by the army

The consensus is that the rebellion began locally and foreign and IS involvement later occurred. The disagreement is how important it is.

The US view is that IS hijacked and hijacked the rebels. The view of most Mozambique researchers is that al-Shabaab is still operating locally and withdrawing its local goals, with foreign and perhaps IS involvement.

This split leads to a large split in response.

Taken between March 24th and March 27th, 2021 and obtained by Reuters on March 30th, this photo shows a hotel in Parma where many locals and foreigners were hiding during the Mozambique attack. You can see a message asking for help on the premises of.  , 2021.

A message calling for help was seen on the premises of a hotel in the town of Parma during the attack

Armed groups walked to Parma with virtually no opposition, despite a clear warning of a two-month attack when it rained and the government’s promise to protect Parma in total. ..

Military and paramilitary police are poorly trained, unequipped, unmotivated, and highly corrupt.

Armed groups rarely attacked the contractor’s facilities, and in the first week of April after the attackers left Parma, troops plundered the city and invaded the contractor’s facilities.

This was shown in both aerial photographs and direct reports from contractors and even angry local government officials.

Foreign interest in IS links

Military response has great impetus.

“We must confront Isis in Africa,” said John T. Godfrey, the United States Deputy Special Envoy for the United States to defeat Isis, at a press conference on March 11. The United States wants to get involved in Cabo del Gado to combat the IS “terrorist activity” there.

Portugal has dispatched trainers and the current chair of the Council of the European Union is promoting EU involvement. South African troops are already patrolling the coast of Mozambique and want to wear boots on the ground.

The role of IS is central here.



No country can give the Mozambique government military support to fight its own farmers. But fighting global enemies like IS provides justification.

In other words, IS and the United States appear to have a common interest in promoting the importance of jihadist groups.

In the case of South Africa, IS Link promoters warn that South Africa needs to send troops because if the poverty levels in Cape Town are similar, IS can use Cabo del Gado as a basis for moving south. I will. But this is not the case if the rebellion is simply an uprising of local peasants.

The Frelimo administration in Mozambique, even outsiders and local media, did not look at the roots of the war and pointed out how the Frelimo elite became wealthy while the general public in Cabodelgado became poor. I am very worried about doing it.

On April 7, President Filipenushi said Mozambique needed assistance “for the fight against terrorism.” But he added, “People from abroad will not replace us and will support us. It’s a sense of sovereignty.”

Muzamomadi is waiting for news about her mother and siblings on the outskirts of the port of Pemba on March 30, 2021.

Parma’s relatives were waiting for the news because the phone line was cut off

Interviews with women fleeing armed groups in Parma point to another view of the government.

They said fighters have a great deal of resentment towards the authorities and their motives are mainly important-work and money. However, many want to leave the armed group if there is an alternative.

Details of the conflict in Mozambique:

Dr. Feijó, who interviewed, argues that economic development, intensive agriculture and fisheries should be used to attract dissatisfied people.

The government seems to be happier to blame the IS than the failure of its own policies for the ongoing conflict. But more and more Mozambicans say that creating thousands of jobs ends the war sooner and is much cheaper than huge international military involvement.

Joseph Hanlon is a Visiting Senior Fellow of International Development at the London School of Economics (LSE) and has been writing about Mozambique for many years.