The Evolution of Mozambique’s own version of Boko Haram

Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province is being held to ransom by an Islamist guerrilla movement. After months of skirmishes between police and members of the Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah, the area has now erupted into full violence.

The state has in current months responded forcefully to the emergence of this menace. Tons of of women and men have been arrested. Some mosques have been closed and others have been destroyed. In some areas, Muslims have been discouraged from carrying spiritual garb. This has prompted some sheikhs to warn that Mozambique’s authorities should not alienate all Muslims due to a fringe group’s actions.

The group’s evolution


The birth of Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah is similar to what was seen with Boko Haram in Nigeria. It began as a spiritual sect which reworked right into a guerrilla group.

Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah is Arabic for “people of the Sunnah community”. The group is also referred to as Al-Shabaab (The Youth), regardless that it has no connections with the Somali motion of the same name.

It’s estimated that the motion now has between about 350 and 1,500 members who’re organised in tens of small cells alongside the coast of Northern Mozambique.

The sect’s preliminary purpose was to implement sharia legislation (Islamic law). It tried to take action by withdrawing from society and the state whose education, well being system and legal guidelines it rejected. Such posture led to a lot rigidity.

Some recommend that the movement additionally calls itself “Swahili Sunna” (Swahili path) to replicate a dream to revive the Swahili grandeur of the 19th century when sheikdoms and sultanates dominated the realm.

Regardless of the movement’s lofty ideals, some analysts nonetheless argue that it’s motivated by greed rather than grievance. The group is even mentioned to have become involved in unlawful mining, logging, poaching, and contraband, making tens of millions of {dollars} per week through these criminal actions.

However these assertions are usually not backed by hard proof and it’s tough to imagine {that a} guerrilla group which might make US$three million per week still fights with only machetes and very few weapons.

Possible solutions


Finally, if the movement sustains its current levels of violence, oil and gas majors might move oil and gas processing plants offshore. This could probably lead to a lack of jobs locally. Ongoing violence may additionally result in a displacement disaster as tons of flee the area to escape the violence.

The Mozambican state has responded to the most recent disaster by getting into into security agreements with the governments of Tanzania, DRC and Uganda; by establishing a regional army command; and by shifting extra troops into the North.

However the state and its companions have to also devise non-military measures. They should constructively interact with issues of land ownership, begin to address sectarian tensions, and keep away from vexing Muslims in their security operations in the event that they wish to prevent the Islamist guerrillas from tapping into local grievances and gaining more ground.

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