Civilians in Mozambique have told Save the Children of horror stories including one about a mother who hid with three of her children while the insurgents murdered her 12-year-old son, and another one about a woman who watched the death of her 11-year-old boy.
The Islamic State-inspired Mozambique insurgency calls itself Ahlu-Sunnah Wa-Jama, a name it borrowed from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab terrorist organization; some of the killers, and many local citizens, even refer to the militants as “al-Shabaab.”
The U.S. State Department formally designated “ISIS-Mozambique” and their Tanzanian leader Abu Yasir Hassan as a terrorist organization last week. The State Department noted the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in the spring of 2018, and holds them responsible for the deaths of over 1,300 civilians and the displacement of some 670,000 more.
The objective of the insurgency is to take control of the gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado. Beheadings have been a staple of their tactics for years; they reportedly beheaded 50 people in one incident in November 2020 and then hacked the bodies to pieces.