Does the Islamic State of Mozambique want revenge on South Africa at election time?
25 May 2024
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On the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the situation is very worrying. There, Zimbabwean border guards have reported that armed groups have been spotted near the Espangabera border crossing point moving south along the border towards South Africa. Border guards reported that the groups were clearly not affiliated with either the police or the Mozambican military forces. At the same time, the Mozambican press reported the discovery of a weapons cache of Islamic State Mozambique (ISM) militants, which also contained photographs and maps of South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.

The Mozambique Defence Armed Forces (FADM) have been conducting operations for several weeks to search for hidden cells and caches of Ahlu Sunna wal-Jama’a, also known as the Islamic State Mozambique (ISM). The scouring is taking place in Cabo Delgado province and beyond, where the militants are particularly strong. A significant weapons cache was recently discovered near Malala in Nampula province,. A FADM source has since shared photos of the weapons and documents found in the cache with a military expert.

This situation poses a serious threat not only to Mozambique itself but also to neighboring countries, including South Africa. Islamists operate in small groups, attacking civilians and military installations and integrating into local communities, making them difficult to detect and counter. Consequently, when the Mozambique Defence Armed Forces (FADM) were overwhelmed by the militant onslaught, forces from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were deployed to assist.

According to a military expert who obtained images from a FADM fighter who was at the location of the cache, the documents and photos found, as well as many different weapons, point to further actions by the Islamic State of Mozambique (ISM) group. The discovery of photos and maps of government buildings in Pretoria suggests that their plans may include actions against South Africa.

Moreover, on May 29, 2024, South Africa will hold a general election that could completely change the political landscape of the country. The outcome of the vote will not only affect the balance of power in the lower house of parliament – the National Assembly – and the government, but will also determine who will lead the country for the next five years. According to the constitution, the leader of the party that receives the largest number of mandates in the National Assembly following the general elections becomes the president of South Africa.

Therefore, ISM activity is likely to be linked to a desire to retaliate against the Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces and disrupt the elections. Given the information, intelligence from neighboring countries, measures must be taken to ensure security and prevent possible attempts to destabilize the region.