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State Department Designates ISIS Affiliates in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo as Foreign Terrorist Organizations


Paul Archuleta

March 26, 2021

4 min read




“We tried to escape to the woods, but they took my eldest son and beheaded him.” These are the horrifying words of a mother in Mozambique living under the terror of ISIS-affiliated groups in northern Mozambique. Since 2017, ISIS-Mozambique has been carrying out violent attacks such as beheadings in Cabo Delgado.  More recently they have begun expanding their operations to include engaging with the military to occupy and control land.

In April of 2020, Islamic extremists in Mozambique carried out an attack on Good Friday that resulted in the death of five people. According to the report:

They took a stand on the island of Quirimba on Thursday evening and launched their murderous attack on Friday morning. Of the five people killed, three drowned while trying to escape. One of the victims was burned alive, while the fifth was killed by gunfire. About 60 people were taken hostage but released later in the day. Insurgents attacked the local primary school, a health center, the official residence of the head of the Quirimba administrative office and destroyed an unspecified number of houses of the local population.

In another attack that same month, Islamic militants massacred 52 individuals in Xitaxi in the Muidumbe district after the locals refused to join the group. As stated by a police spokesman, “the criminals tried to recruit young people to join their ranks, but there was resistance. This provoked the anger of criminals, who indiscriminately killed – cruelly and diabolically – 52 young people.”

In addition, we recently told you about the violence being carried out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC or “the Congo”) by the Allied Democratic Forces, also known as ISIS – Democratic Republic of the Congo (ISIS-DRC) which Open Doors describes as a “militant Islamic group with a clear mission of attacking, kidnapping, and killing Christians, as well as training and sending jihadists to the other countries in Africa.”

For some time now, we have been warning about the expansive spread of violent persecution of Christians and other human rights abuses across Africa.

Now, the State Department has started to take notice and has officially designated ISIS-DRC and ISIS-Mozambique as terrorist organizations:

The Department of State has designated the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Democratic Republic of the Congo (ISIS-DRC) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – Mozambique (ISIS-Mozambique) as Foreign Terrorist Organizations under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended. The Department has also designated ISIS-DRC and ISIS-Mozambique as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order 13224, while also designating respective leaders of those organizations, Seka Musa Baluku and Abu Yasir Hassan, as SDGTs.

Furthermore, the State Department highlighted the atrocities being carried out by these organizations in the Congo and Mozambique:

ISIS-DRC, also known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen, among other names, is responsible for many attacks across North Kivu and Ituri Provinces in eastern DRC. Under the leadership of Seka Musa Baluku, ISIS-DRC has been notorious in this region for its brutal violence against Congolese citizens and regional military forces, with attacks killing over 849 civilians in 2020 alone, according to United Nations reporting on the ADF. . . .

ISIS-Mozambique, also known as Ansar al-Sunna (and locally as al-Shabaab in Mozambique), among other names, reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS as early as April 2018, and was acknowledged by ISIS-Core as an affiliate in August 2019. Since October 2017, ISIS-Mozambique, led by Abu Yasir Hassan, has killed more than 1,300 civilians, and it is estimated that more than 2,300 civilians, security force members, and suspected ISIS-Mozambique militants have been killed since the terrorist group began its violent extremist insurgency. The group was responsible for orchestrating a series of large scale and sophisticated attacks resulting in the capture of the strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia, Cabo Delgado Province. ISIS-Mozambique’s attacks have caused the displacement of nearly 670,000 persons within northern Mozambique.

We are pleased with this crucial designation by the State Department. However, more work still needs to be done to put an end to these violent atrocities as well as provide aid to the victims. We recently submitted a number of critical human rights country reports, known as UPRs, to the U.N. on African nations that were up for review, including Mozambique; we have just made an oral intervention at the U.N. on the deadly persecution of Christians in the Congo; and we are preparing to submit new UPRs in just days.

Stand with us as we continue to advocate for persecuted Christians in Africa.

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