Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo/Ansar al-Sunna (Shabaab) – Mozambique
Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo/Ansar al-Sunna is an Islamic Religious Sect mainly active in the area of Mocimboa da Praia in the Cabo Delgado region, formed in 2015. The sect had two makeshift mosques in the Nanduadue neighbourhood.
According to residents from the neighbourhood the sect seeks to establish an Islamic State. Interviews with residents revealed that the leader of the sect seeks to replace government structures with institutions based on Sharia law that includes resolving family matters addressing crime as well as the removal of Christian symbols in the town. Residents added that sect declines any negotiations with the Government and rejects any national symbols of Mozambique to be visible in the town. The sect also has called on residents to refrain from sending their children to secular institutions such as state schools and hospitals.
Saide Bacar is a representative in the province of the Mozambican Islamic Council, one of the Muslim congregations in Mozambique, summarized the group’s radical interpretation of Islam: They began to attack us for talking to the government and having children in formal education. I had to expel them,” he says, when approaches repeated in other mosques forced him to take a stand. On 15 June 2016, Bacar issued a circular to five districts in southern Cabo Delgado (Montepuez, Balama, Namuno, Chiure and Ancuabe), alerting them to the presence of a group of alleged Islamists in the region who claimed to preach moral rectitude but demanded communities observe principles that he considered offensive. “Amputee the thief and stone the adulterer to death, and let not fear of the government prevent you from serving the sentence,” was one of the slogans quoted as evidence of insurgency. “Do not raise the flag nor participate in national events,” was another of the guidelines those who encountered the group in places of worship heard, the document detailed.
TRAC sources refer to two leaders Nur Adremane and Jafar Alawi, whose names have been revealed by suspected assailants that were arrested by the Mozambique police. According to sources, Nur Adremane and Jafar Alawi are from Cabo Delgado. Before fleeing from Mozambique, they frequented local mosques and walked around the neighborhoods to teach Islam. Since 2014 the two (Nur Adremane and Jafar Alawi) began to rigorously select young people who wanted to teach Islam. The group promised better living conditions for possible adherents to their interpretation of Islam. Nur Adremane and Jafar Alawi went to a local mosque and tried to persuade the leaders and other parents in refraining from sending children to study at government schools as well as attending only mosques in Mocímboa da Praia. Local leaders denounced Nur Adremane and Jaafar Alawi and subsequent mistrust towards the two resulted in them fleeing Mozambique. Youths detained during November 2017 confessed that they had contact with Nur Adremane and Jafar Alawi and were involved in attacks in return for financial payments. (The veracity of the information is still to be determined).
COMPOSITION OF SECT
The sect is, according to residents, comprised of young people ranging in age from 20 to 35 years that includes those coming from nearby districts such Macomia, Palma and Nangade. Residents added that the group leader is a local business person with no military background. There were also references to the young men being armed. A large part of the leadership of the group has connections in religious circles, commercial and military groups of radicalized Islamists from Tanzania, Somalia, Kenya, and the region of the Great Lakes. The group is primarily supported by
To differentiate themselves from the local Islamic populations, the group wear white turbans on their heads, shave all their hair, grow their beards, and use black pants and robes that go down until just over the knee.
A SECOND “GROUP” KNOWN AS SHABAAB
Initial reference was made to the presence of a second group known as Shabaab. The violence was enacted by a newly formed group of Mozambicans who transitioned from the al Shabaab cult, allowing themselves to fall under the same umbrella of Islamic extremism in their pursuit to solve personal disputes. There has been an influx of foreign presence, but that pertains to organized crime, as well as engaging in illegal trade routes toward South Africa – not having anything to do with violent outbreaks. However, most recent information indicates that the two groups falls the same umbrella of Shabaab.
ROOTS FOR SUPPORT
Shabaab cells primarily gains support due to degrading social conditions, marginalized, poor, unemployed, lack of basic necessities (education, medical care) and political exclusion: from the local groups in the area. Cells provide a sense of family, security, and solidarity aggravated by giving supporters sense of rebellion from authority.
There is currently no evidence indicating direct associations with Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo/Ansar al-Sunna.
1Profile provided by Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC)