The president of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, Wednesday revealed the identity of the alleged leader of the Islamic insurgency in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Nyusi claimed that the government knew of the jihadists, locally known as Al-Shabab, since 2012 and had contained its operations until 2017.
He speaks amid reports that the group has since killed over 3 000 civilians in the gas-rich region while over 570 000 have fled their homes since the launch of the group’s operations.
In a state-of-the-nation address to legislators, Nyusi said the Mozambique government was intensifying international cooperation to “combat terrorism.” He said:
The radicalisation was promoted by a citizen of Tanzanian nationality identified as Abdul Shakulo.
He urged disobedience to the constitution, banned Muslim children from attending (state) schools and required them to attend madrasas, or Koranic schools.
The criminal activities of these groups, who called themselves Islamists, started in 2012. The government of Mozambique already knew (of them) in 2012 and managed to contain their expansion until 2017.
We Mozambicans need to develop our capabilities internally. We will be the ones who will be in the first line of defence of our homeland. The government will do everything to make this process happen.
He added that the leaders of the group were mainly foreign nationals adding that among the “terrorists killed in combat” with Mozambique forces, there are citizens of Tanzanian origin, Congolese, Somalis, Ugandans, Kenyans and mostly Mozambicans.
Nyusi added that a number of countries the former colonial ruler Portugal, the United States, France, Spain and Russia have been offering aid to Mozambique to fight the jihadists.
Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been pushing the SADC region to intervene and assist Mozambique saying the crisis was a blow to the whole region as it affected peace and security and commerce.