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'We're talking about well-trained experienced fighters' moving into Mozambique

20 August 2020 12:07 PM

Jasmine Opperman provides a detailed analysis of Islamic extremist militant groups involved in the insurgencies in Cabo Delgado.

A key port in Mozambique, which acts as the gateway to multi-million Rand natural gas operations has been captured by an extremist terror group.

There are calls for SADC to step in and deal with the clear threat of the Islamic State-linked terror group, Ansar al-Sunnah, who have claimed more than 1000 lives in the north of Mozambique, according to sources in the region.

The heavily armed group has fended off military interventions by the government as well as South African private mercenaries.

Jasmine Opperman, analyst at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, speaks to Refilwe Moloto about the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq (IS)-linked terror group, Ansar al-Sunna, who have seized the crucial northern Mozambique port of Mocímboa da Praia.

She says the influences are coming mainly from Tanzania and the DRC.

We're talking about well-trained fighters who have experience. The insurgent in Cabo Delgado at a local level do not have that experience...experienced fighters coming into Cabo Delgado and that is of utmost concern.

Jasmine Opperman, Analyst - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

The infiltration of Al-Sunna goes back to 2017 when they were involved in the attack in the town of Mocimboa da Praia.

She says the influence of these foreigners has increased the locals' ability to coordinate and attack.

If you talk to local insurgents, they refer to themselves as Shabaabs. not as Al-Sunna which indicates that the local roots are still predominant in terms of driving the insurgency.

Jasmine Opperman, Analyst - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

But, all these influences have spilt over and integrated into the local insurgents

And that has integrated into the insurgency irrespective of the local roots driving the insurgancy. So we are seeing regional meeting local.

Jasmine Opperman, Analyst - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

She sees prior local insurgencies saw the use of machetes, but now the use of RPG7 firearms is prevalent.

Local ability and access to weapons have significantly increased.

Jasmine Opperman, Analyst - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

She believes they rely on local funding streams.

But I am not denying that there are foreign funds coming in to support them, but if you see how local banks and food supplies are targetted, as well as government security forces to access weapons, then their local supply stream remains overwhelming and they are reliant on that.

Jasmine Opperman, Analyst - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

RELATED: Level of Isis threat in Mozambique assessed

She says since Islamic State first began taking credit for attacks in 2019 in the region, video and other evidence of 35 attacks show that their involvement cannot be ignored.

We cannot ignore the fact that the Islamic State is in a process of hijacking the insurgencies.

Jasmine Opperman, Analyst - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

It is part of Isis global strategy and should come as no surprise, says Opperman.

The question many are asking is how does this impact South African security?

The risk for South Africa is not a direct spill over into South Africa as seen in Cabo Delgado but if we have an international terr group well set in Mozambique we have to take it seriously.

Jasmine Opperman, Analyst - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

She says the concern lies in South Africa's capacity.

To send in the military now will not solve the problem.

Jasmine Opperman, Analyst - Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

20 August 2020 12:07 PM

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