Terrorism within African Territories

05/20/2020 – Deep Reflection – Terrorism within African Territories – Long Article for Social Quarantined.

As the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika summit is currently underway in Zimbabwe’s Capital City Harare with President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi of Botswana, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique, President Dr. Edgar Changwa Lungu SC of Zambia and the host President Dr. Emmerson Mnangagwe of Zimbabwe, I deeply reflected on this summit Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security. The Organ is responsible for promoting peace and security in the SADC region and mandated to steer and provide Member states with direction regarding matters that threaten peace, security and stability in the region. Among many other critical issues, the Troika always discusses or must discuss is Terrorism within SADC Region. In Mozambique, “the Movement is Exploding”.

Last week, I shared my thoughts on the current VOICES and call for the African Unity and the renaissance of the Pan-African Movement which was debated by many with divergent views and opinions. The African Continent is indeed full of surprises and contradictions. Whilst we are advocating for peace and Unity, others are advocating for conflicts, terrorism, insurgence and secession.  My mind wondered how the African Union (AU) and SADC organ will need to implore different strategies and approaches in order to avoid the pit falls and booby traps our brothers and sisters in North, West and East Africa have tried without much success so far in the fight against Terrorism.

I will use the words of my Lecturers – Professor Paul Pillar, Professor Daniel Byman and Professor Bruce Hoffman who have been studying terrorism, counterterrorism and insurgency for over four decades in defining what the workable and usable definition of terrorism, what it implies and means to a lay person. “The deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or, equally importantly, the threat of violence, in pursuit of political change”. The FBI defines it as “The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” Others have defined it “as political violence in an asymmetrical conflict that is designed to induce terror and psychic fear (sometimes indiscriminate) through the violent victimization and destruction of noncombatant targets (sometimes iconic symbols). In a nutshell, Terrorism, is the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.

Terrorist Financing (TF) however “is an act of any person where by any means, directly or indirectly, unlawfully and willfully, provides or collect funds with an intention that they be used, or in the knowledge that they are to be used, in part or in full, to sponsor or facilitate a terrorist activity or act”-Kunda Kalaba 2016. Not so sure how many people will be criminally prosecuted in Congo DR and Somalia for instance.


Egypt – The Land of the Pharaohs and Pyramids. Most of the targets of terrorism in Egypt have included government officials, police,  and the Christian minority. Many attacks have been linked to Islamic extremism, and terrorism increased in the 1990s when the Islamist movement al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya targeted high-level political leaders and killed hundreds – including civilians – in its pursuit of implementing traditional Sharia law in Egypt. Apparently, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor and leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, is believed to be behind the operations of al Qaeda.


Algeria – Islamic terrorist groups operating in Algeria are generally affiliated to Al Qaeida in the Maghreb (AQIM) aka Daesh. These groups advocate a strict interpretation of Islamic Law and their aim is to create an Islamic state in the region, using all necessary means, including violence. Their activities have been going on for a long time.

Nigeria – Boko Haram – In the local Hausa dialect, Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden.” The group also refers to itself as Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, meaning “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.” Originally, the group was referred to locally as the Nigerian Taliban because of their religious similarities to the Taliban’s in Afghanistan. Started small but now Boko Haram militants mainly inhabit areas in the northern states of Nigeria, specifically Yobe, Kano, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna and stray into other neighbouring Countries.


Somalia – The Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, aka al-Shabaab, is a terrorist, jihadist fundamentalist group based in central and southern Somalia. It is committed to expelling foreign forces from Somalia, overthrowing the current government, and establishing an Islamist regime under sharia. It also subscribes to the transnational jihad ideology espoused by Al-Qaeda. In 2012, it pledged allegiance to the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda. Kenya has been a frequent target of terrorist attacks. The largest, most high-profile attack occurred in 1998 when al-Qaeda operatives bombed the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, killing more than 220 people. In September 2013 siege of Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall left 67 people dead, and the April 2015 attack on Garissa University in northeastern Kenya in which militants killed 148 people. The Somali terror group has increased attacks in Kenya in order to dissuade the country from sending its military to help stabilize neighboring Somalia. On 10/02/2020, the U.S partnered with Kenya to establish the first ever Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF-K) outside of the US based in Nairobi following an al-Shabab attack on the DusitD2 Hotel in Nairobi in January 2019 that left over 20 people dead.


Congo DR: Bakata Katanga aka Mai Kata Katanga, aka Mai Bakata Katanga, aka Mayi-Mayi Bakata Katanga is a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that claims to fight for the independence of Katanga Province. In 2013, more than 200 Kata Katanga rebels entered the capital of the province of Katanga. At least 35 people died. As a result of the conflict, nearly 400,000 people from Katanga live in refugee camps. Katanga is regularly engulfed by secessionist unrest dating back to 1960 when the mining province announced it was seceding from the rest of the nation, triggering a long series of wars and rebellions. While the insurgency has been active in various forms since 1960, insurgent groups redoubled their efforts after the 2011 jail break that freed Gédéon Kyungu Mutanga (GKM), who was a leader of the militant group that waged an insurgence against the Congo DR in the Katanga Insurgency seeking to form an independent Katanga State. In 2006, he was detained and sentenced to death. In September 2011, he escaped from Prison in Lubumbashi after his militia fired on the prison guards and founded the Mai Mai Kata Katanga militia after his escape.

Mozambique: The Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo (Shabaab) – The Insurgency in Cabo Delgado is an ongoing conflict by alleged jihadist insurgents in Cabo Delgado Northern Province, Mozambique near Tanzania. For obvious reasons, I will dwell more on this group since the SADC Troika needs to concentrate their efforts on the TWO very Hotspots sand-witching ZAMBIA, namely Congo DR and Mozambique. We have been receiving refugees in Zambia from Congo DR for along time and Zambia experienced insurgence overspills from Mozambique along Katete/Mutete Boarder area and the Great East Road UBZ Bus terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s. Millennials may not know this but, this is for another day.

HISTORICAL perspective

Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, 4th President of Mozambique, since 2015 previously served as Minister of Defence from 2008 to 2014. Disturbing events in Mozambique’s Mocímboa da Praia area in the Cabo Delgado region, close to Tanzania, have hogged the limelight since 2017. Cabo Delgado, a province expected to become the centre of a natural gas industry has been rocked by a spate of attacks on security forces and civilians. According the Washington Post of 05/15/2020, “Mozambique’s most northeastern province, Cabo Delgado is where ExxonMobil and Total are developing the gas projects. There are also lucrative ruby and graphite mining ventures. About 1,100 people have been killed since the extremists launched their violent campaign in October 2017, according to ACLED”.

Coincidentally, the attacks came a few months after the death of rebel leader turned opposition politician Afonso Dhlakama, which signaled a turning point in prospects for peace in Mozambique. When the first attack was reported in October 2017, many people thought it was perpetrated by Renamo that has been fighting the Frelimo government since Mozambique attained independence in 1975. These attacks have created scary news headlines from both the local and international media: “Suspected Islamists behead 10 in Mozambique village: state radio”; “Beheadings signal threat to Mozambique’s $30 billion bonanza”; “New ISIS cell in Mozambique: Expansion claimed after beheadings”; “Rising violence plagues resource-rich Mozambique”; “Police Kill 9 ‘insurgents’ in Mozambique”; “How Mozambique’s smuggling barons nurtured jihadists”; “Mozambique’s new opposition leader goes into hiding” and more.

But the attackers are now believed to be Islamic extremists. The Cabo Delgado have been spotted flying the black and white “Islamic State” flag after committing acts of terror and they have publicly declared their intention to turn Mozambique into a “caliphate.” The Insurgents seek ‘caliphate’ – What is “Caliphate”? This is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph, a person considered a politico-religious successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire ummah which is the Muslim community. We have Muslims in Zambia and many in Eastern Province closer to Mozambique and they may wish to shed more light on what their brothers across are up to.

Initially, the Cabo Delgado insurgents sought to further foment unrest towards the central government in Maputo over mismanagement of the country’s abundant resources, which include large-scale oil reserves, and widespread corruption. Mainly fought between Islamist militants attempting to establish an Islamic state in the region, and Mozambican security forces. Civilians have been the main targets of attacks by Islamist militants.

In the last two years since the insurgency began in Mozambique, more than 200,000 people have fled their homes and more than 900 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). The extremists have mostly targeted remote villages, though they briefly occupied the district headquarters of Mocimboa da Praia in March 2020 and burnt government buildings, including an army barracks.

“The criminals tried to recruit young people to join their ranks, but there was resistance. This provoked the anger of the criminals, who indiscriminately killed, cruelly and diabolically, 52 young people,” police spokesman Orlando Mudumane said in a statement to public broadcaster TVM.

Locals told French news agency AFP that the militants tore local schools, hospitals, and a bank upside down, as well as setting fire to bridge-building equipment. At least 52 people were massacred in a village in northern Mozambique, local police confirmed on Wednesday, when they refused to join a regional Islamist terror group. The attack occurred in the village of Xitaxi in the Muidumbe district, about 100 km (62 miles) from the border with Tanzania.


For the avoidance of doubt, Insurgency however though similar with guerilla warfare or terrorism in execution is a protracted political-military struggle with the goal of displacing the legitimacy of a government or occupying power and controlling the resources of a territory through irregular military forces. The objective of gaining control of a population and its resources is what largely differentiates insurgencies from purely terrorist organizations. A debate for another day whether one group can be referred to both as a terrorist group and insurgency group. Suffice to state that one of the strategies terrorist groups use is they try to take their small group and build it into a large insurgent organization that can conduct guerrilla warfare. Now, there is a difference between terrorism and insurgency. But, in strategic terms, often terrorists are trying to go from one stage, terrorism, to a much larger stage of insurgency. And, indeed, many of the terrorist groups that have consumed the attention of the world, such as Hezbollah, or the PKK in Turkey or Sendero Luminoso in Peru, are insurgent groups that also use terrorism. The Mozambique group seem to be heading in the same destructive and destabilizing trajectory.

This is how Terrorists and insurgent groups think and want Governments to react and respond. They start with small numbers, small violent but brutal actions. Since Governments like in Zambian recent Fires, Gassing and alleged ritual killings may lack precise intelligence, they like the Mozambique Government counterparts may make mass arrests and end up getting the wrong people. And often they are shooting back. And when Governments kill people, then they create a dynamic where the cousins, the brothers, the family members, of those arrested, injured, involved or killed as collateral damage, join insurgent groups to seek revenge. So, what we might see in Mozambique as initial limited violence may create a government crackdown that largely fails in Cabo Delgado. We may see the initial limited violence discredit the government of Mozambique. By the way, the use of “hired mercenaries from South Africa” led by the Zimbabwean retired Colonel seems not to help that much so far. Over time, this group if not handled now, may get bigger and bigger, to the point where they want to be. That is the intention of any Insurgence, including this one calling itself “Islamic State Central Africa Province.” Locals also refer to it as al-Shabaab, though there is no evidence of a link between the fighting in Mozambique and the terrorist group based in Somalia.

After reading and watching the destruction by terrorist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and its neighbours; Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab in Somalia and neighbouring countries and ISIS/ISIL, it is still unthinkable that an insurgency like the one in Mozambique could become an issue in the SADC Region.

As we watch and study the developments, other crucial questions to ask are: Are we likely to see an increased magnitude in the insurgency? Who are these terrorists affiliated to, and if they are being sponsored, who is sponsoring them and why? What is the possibility of the insurgency spreading beyond the Cabo Delgado Province into other neigbouring countries in the map shared? Will Mozambique, SADC, COMESA, African Union (AU) contain the insurgency? Examples in Nigeria, Somalia, Congo are many for us to wonder why those hotspots in Africa still continue to terrorize innocent civilians and peace citizens.

The conflict accelerated in late March 2020 when the fighters took control of the strategic port of Mocímboa da Praia for 24 hours. Two days later, on March 25, they took another coastal town, Quissanga, and stayed there for several weeks while trying to win support from Muslims there and in the surrounding district.

The government can’t afford to incur civilian casualties that would lose it local support. While saying the fighters have similarities to other insurgents in Nigeria, Somalia and West Africa’s Sahel region, Mozambique’s group is unique. “Cabo Delgado is giving birth to its own unique brand of extremism.” The Mozambican government should have headed off the conflict with “inclusive development, with greater social, territorial and ethnic equity in the distribution of resources,” João Mosca, director of Maputo-based think tank. What does this mean for Mozambique’s economic growth and development? Will this affect investment in Mozambique and the region?

Just like the Herald Newspaper of Zimbabwe stated, “We are not trying to be alarmist, but pointing out the reality, for all the terrorist groups started in a small way like the one in Cabo Delgado. So, what lessons can be drawn by neighbouring countries” like Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia? The extremists, who pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group, risk giving Mozambique “the type of threat that Boko Haram has become in Nigeria,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy told journalists earlier this month. “Boko Haram was just a small movement, and because of the way the Nigerian government initially responded to it, it grew into a very serious threat,” Nagy said, adding that Mozambique should take a different approach.

A number of reports acknowledge that Cabo Delgado is one of the richest regions in Mozambique, but still mired in poverty and youth unemployment and these are people that can be easily manipulated by all sorts of doctrines. Mozambique’s armed forces have killed 50 Islamic extremist fighters this week in two battles in the country’s north where the insurgents have launched 11 attacks this month, the government said. The attacks show a marked increase in extremist violence in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province, causing considerable trouble for the government and the foreign companies investing billions of dollars in projects to produce liquefied natural gas from gas fields off the Indian Ocean coast. Kaleza OIL and GAS ili na chibanda china cha che! Mwine Mushi and Kasaka would say SADC TROIKA must find the LOOT COZI (Root Cause/causing the Mozambique Terrorism and Insurgency.

Stay Safe and be blessed as we self-quarantine and continue social distancing. KEKK-05/20/2020

Published by Kemman

Regulatory and Independent Consulting Professional with expertise in Financial Crime Risk Compliance encompassing Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Countering Terrorism Financing (CTF), Anti-Bribery & Corruption (ABC – FCPA & UKAB), Global Trade & Sanctions, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), Know Your Customer (KYC) and Customer Due Diligence (CDD), Internal Audit Testing, Reviews, Validation, Risk Assessment. Worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America (USA). Banking & FinTech, Anti-Sex & Human Trafficking Advocate, FOREX & Cryptocurrency trading, Travel & Tours, Telecommunications & Energy.

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