Mozambique, a country dominated by Christianity and home to around one fifth of the nation’s Muslims is considered a predominantly Christian country.

A religious movement, Ansar al-Sunna, first appeared in 2015 in the north of the country, formed by followers of radical Kenyan cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed who has been linked to the 1998 US embassy bombings.

This group was made up of young discontented men, who were unhappy about the lack of opportunity in an area with rich natural resources. 

This movement began building religious schools and mosques, and it became increasingly popular among locals. 

However, the group began launching attacks in 2017 and was known as al-Shabab locally. They are not connected to Somalia’s Jihadist Rebels. 

Militants started posting photos on the encrypted messaging service Telegram posing in front of the ISIS flag and praising its then leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The Islamic State confirmed then that militants from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique had also joined their Central Africa Province Division (ISCAP) of Jihadis.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for several of the terrorist attacks in Mozambique. They often posted photos online of their victims.

Official ISIS news bulletin, June 2013, stated that leaders had taunted both the West and African countries for not stopping the Mozambican insurgency. They also said their interest in the country is economic due to its huge coal- and gas resources.

While militants refer to themselves still as al Shabab, US officials confirmed that they were now an affiliate of ISIS in December.  

Nathan Sales, counterterrorism coordinator, stated that he saw a dedicated ISIS affiliate who embraces ISIS’s ideology and ISIS’s tactics and procedures. He also embraces ISIS’ vision of a caliphate under territorial control. 

As part of ISCAP, al-Shabab is part of ISIS’s formal structure and the jihadi group in the Congo allegedly helps fund its Mozambican counterparts.

These attacks have evolved to use more sophisticated weapons, which indicates that the group has become involved in the militant network. 

Cabo Delgado is the main province where rebels operate. Their attacks have become more frequented and fatal in recent years as they attempt to seize strategic areas.

In August 2020, they captured the port town of Mocímboa da Praia and nearby villages, one of the first territory gains by ISIS in months.

The terrorist group then declared Mocímboa da Praia the capital of ISCAP. 

Insurgents fight against Western Christian and Christian values.