ISIS-Linked Insurgency Opens a Vacuum in Northeast Mozambique

PEMBA, Mozambique (Jan. 29, 2019) General of the Army Lazaro Menete, chief of staff of the Mozambican Armed Forces, speaks during the opening ceremony of exercise Cutlass Express 2019 in Pemba, Mozambique, Jan. 29, 2019. Cutlass Express is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness and information sharing practices to increase capabilities between the U.S., East African and Western Indian Ocean nations to counter illicit maritime activity. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kyle Steckler/Released), cc Flickr modified, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet,


Mozambique’s long-simmering insurgency came to the fore in tragic fashion last week when a local ISIS affiliate attacked Palma, a city near the northern border with Tanzania. Though exceptional in its sophistication and brutal outcome, the incident is just the latest in a growing list of targeted killings and attacks on state targets in the northeastern Cabo Delgada province, especially since 2020. The intensity of the violence is fueling concerns that Mozambique could serve as a doorway for Islamic State to establish a new territorial foothold in southeastern Africa.

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