Islamic State-linked jihadists murdered at least 50 people in northern Mozambique in a dastardly attack over the weekend. The religious radicals shouted Allahu Akbar as they rounded up the victims on a football pitch and beheaded them.
The butchery by the Islamists happened in northern Mozambique's lawless Cabo Delgado province over the past three days, reports said on Tuesday.
Bernardino Rafael, commander-general of Mozambique's police, said that the ISIL-linked terrorists killed civilians, including women and children. "They burned the houses then went after the population who had fled to the woods and started with their macabre actions," Rafael said, according to Al-Jazeera.
The victims were chopped into pieces and their dismembered bodies lay scattered over a wide area. Witnesses said body parts of least five adults and 15 boys were found in an area about 500 meters.
"Police learnt of the massacre committed by the insurgents through reports of people who found corpses in the woods," said an officer. The officer said the victims included young boys who were at an initiation rite ceremony accompanied by their advisers.
However, Al-Jazeera, in its report, raises doubt if the Isis connection of Cabo Delgado terrorists is a valid assumption. Here's what the report says:
"But some analysts have questioned how serious the ISIL (ISIS) link really is, saying the root of the unrest may be poverty and inequality rather than religion."
It goes on to say that "Little is known about the fighters who call themselves al-Shabab." The report also omits the important detail that the terrorists shouted "Allahu Akbar" as they settled down into the serial beheadings.
However, in contrast a BBC report from earlier this year has this to say: "IS has claimed responsibility for a string of recent attacks in Mozambique, which has a Muslim population of about 18%, and appears to be promoting its involvement there as part of a "franchise" operation that has seen it expanding its footprint in several parts of Africa."
It adds: "The idea that the rebellion in Cabo Delgado is, at its core, part of a global jihadist movement, has been given credibility by the militants themselves, who publicly swore allegiance to IS last year."
The weekend massacre in Mozambique should ideally prod the deniers into believing the reality of the rising spectre of religion-driven butchery in various parts of the world, be it France, Austria or Mozambique.
Who are Mozambique Terrorists?
According to a report in the Conversation, the Mozambique insurgency is carried out by an ultra jihadist organisation called e Al Sunnah wa Jama'ah. The report says the criminal outfit can be likened to Boko Haram of Nigeria. It adds:
"Al Sunnah wa Jama'ah is Arabic for "people of the Sunnah community". The group is also known as Al-Shabaab (The Youth), even though it has no connections with the Somali movement of the same name."
Ansaru-Sunna and al-Shabaab
Tracing the history of radicalism in the oil and gas-rich Cabo Delgado, the publication notes that the origins of the movement took place in the early 2000s. The formation of the Islamic Council called "Ansaru-Sunna" in the province heralded the building of new mosques. This was followed by the forceful effort to make people practise a stricter form of Islam across the province.
"Soon, a more radical and activist group formed within this sub-organisation and split off as a sect – what has become known locally as "al-Shabaab".
Analysts also connect the rise of Cabo Delgado terrorism to the influence of Tanzanian hardline Islamist clerics. The Mozambican Islamic clerics have trained in Tanzania for more than a century, the report in the Conversation notes.
"After Tanzanian radicals became violent and the state responded forcefully against them after 2015, and particularly strongly in early 2017, some of them took refuge with the Mozambican "al-Shabaab". This has reinforced and partially internationalised the insurgency," the reprot says.