What is happening in Mozambique could favor the future expansion of Islamic states
Terrorism risks in South Africa are particularly linked to the outbreak of the Islamic State in Mozambique. Pretoria is very concerned about the jihadist escalation in northern Mozambique, particularly in the province of Cabo Delgado (but the provinces of Nampula and Niassa have also been the target of attacks). The South African private military company Dyck Advisory Group has already been present in the Mozambican theater for a few years, directly involved by the Maputo government.. In 2020, the Islamic State threatened in its weekly al-Naba that a South African intervention in Mozambique would lead the jihadist organization to open a new front of armed struggle against them. In reality, this IS announcement was likely an attempt to inspire “lone wolf” attacks in South Africa. The growth of the Islamic State in Mozambique is steady and, in the past week, attacks and propaganda have intensified. This increases South Africa’s concerns. The rise of IS-MOZ has enabled Islamic State sympathizers in South Africa to engage in active militancy without having to travel across the continent.
The Islamic State has sleeper cells in South Africa and has recruited South Africans into its ranks. Some of these fighters fought with the group in Syria and Iraq (the estimated number of South Africans who joined the Islamic State varies between 60 and 100) and many South African fighters are involved in Cabo Delgado and joined IS-Mozambique. Direct links have already been identified in the past between elements of the Islamic State in Mozambique and recruitment and financing networks in South Africa. Funding for IS is also believed to come from South African organized crime, accused of funding jihadist groups in Congo and Mozambique.. We can therefore speak for the moment of links with the IS centered on the search for funds and proselytism.
Homer’s IS cell was primarily fundraising for IS operatives elsewhere, such as in Mozambique and the DRC. Farhad Hoomer leads the South African IS cell to expand the group’s operations in Southern Africa. Brothers Nufael Akbar and Yunus Mohamad Akbar are considered senior members of the Durban-based IS cell under the leadership of Farhad Hoomer. Yunus Akbar also serves as an enforcer and logistics coordinator for the IS cell. The aim is to recruit, raise and move funds to support the growth of IS affiliates and networks in Africa. US-sanctioned companies linked to Hoomer and the Akbar brotherssuch as MA Gold Traders (PTY) LTD, Bailey Holdings (PTY) LTD, Flexoseal Waterproofing Solutions (PTY) LTD, HJ Bannister Construction CC, Sultans Construction CC, Ashiq Jewelers CC, Ineos Trading (PTY) LTD and Shaahista Shoes CC, were probably all necessary to carry out and cover this type of operation.
For the moment we cannot speak of jihadist groups in Africa. Sure, some cells favor or support the jihadist idea of the Islamic State. Their operations are facilitated by the country’s difficult economic situation, weak intelligence and police controls, corruption, the presence of organized criminal networks, South Africa’s inability to effectively fight ISIS and the financing of terrorism. Failure to counter the activities of these cells may pose future risks, just as inherent problems with South African intelligence services may pose security risks, such as the possibility of not intercepting IS-linked fighters. returning from Mozambique and other regions who decide to carry out attacks in the country. Of course, it may only be a matter of time, as has happened in other African countries, and I repeat, What’s happening in Mozambique could help ISIS’s future expansion.
Nowadays, there is no evidence that other groups outside of the Islamic State have any interest in operating in South Africa or networks in the country.
No African country is doing enough, or often not doing enough, to counter the illicit and financial activities of jihadist groups. In the case of South Africa, for example, The FATF, a global intergovernmental money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, has claimed that South Africa has failed to demonstrate that it effectively prosecutes terrorist financiers or attacked and fought against the financing of terrorism. The FATF report also accuses South Africa of its reluctance to classify politically motivated violent acts as terrorism, which limits its ability to combat the financing of terrorism.
Strengthen border control and surveillance, identify vulnerable populations and critical infrastructure, improve regional intelligence sharing, strengthen rapid response mechanisms, strengthen counter-terrorism expertise and cooperation with others States, strengthen controls on illicit money transfers and cooperation with organized crime.