Investigator Jasmine Opperman said on Thursday that the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) resorted to simulated images in its claim for credit for the attack on Palma, Mozambique, on the past 24th, which “was offered” to it for propaganda purposes.
“The photo, but also the video, which were used” by the terrorist movement to claim credit for the attack, represents a scenario that “was not in Palma, it was in Mocímboa da Praia,” ACLED investigator Armed Conflict told Lusa Location and Event Data Project, a non-governmental organization specializing in the collection, analysis and mapping of conflict data.
According to Opperman, “this attack was offered to ISIS” by insurgents in Mozambique.
The news agency AMAQ, aligned with the Islamic State, issued a statement on March 29, stating that ISIS had attacked Palma, destroyed government offices and robbed banks, publishing a photo and video.
Jasmine Oppermam says that “the credit claim is not false. But this is a simulated claim, as we have always seen, with the same format, the same language, the same narrative style” and what this incident shows is that “there have been communications [entre os insurgentes em Cabo Delgado] and the Islamic State “.
ISIS used this attack following the “strategy” it has for its “global expansion propaganda campaign, similar to 45 previous credit claims. ISIS has its eyes on Cabo Delgado, this cannot be ignored, but we have to do a balanced analysis “, says the researcher.
“Out of a total of 45 credit claims since 2019, we have never been able to link a claim to a specific incident, as shown in the credit claim. There were incidents that did happen, but the only one that deviates from this pattern is the one where [o EI] claims to have killed Tanzanian soldiers [em outubro, em Mocímboa da Praia]. That remains a mystery, “described Opperman.
However, he underlined, “the fact that they know that [os ataques] happen, of knowing who participated, is a clear indication that there are people communicating with the Islamic State and feeding its propaganda machine “.
“We have to look at ISIS’s global expansion strategy. They’re using [insurgências] local, and even though at the beginning it’s just propaganda, they just need time for their extremist narrative to impose themselves in that local context “, explained the researcher.
Now, hence “to affirm that IS is now in a position to take the lead, to lead the insurgency [em Cabo Delgado], is yet to be proven “, he adds.
“That, clearly, was not what happened in Cabo Delgado. Even if we look at the video of Mocímboa da Praia, we see combatants with red ribbons on their heads, we see combatants dressed in a way that is not typical of IS combatants, we do not see the black ISIS flag being waved by any of these fighters, we didn’t hear their music “, described Opperman.
The researcher considers that EI’s “fingerprint” is still in an “evolutionary phase” in Cabo Delgado. “For now, he is only using these attacks and adjusting the narrative of these attacks to his propaganda”, but he is having several aids to gain more and more strength, both on the part of the Maputo Government and by international actors.
The US State Department earlier this month considered the Al Ansar al-Sunna group, known as al-Shabaab in Mozambique, as an affiliate of the Islamic State. “I do not question the information they have, but I have a problem with the strategy adopted … Disclosing this designation, at this point, has helped the Islamic State to reactivate efforts and refocus its focus on Cabo Delgado,” he said.
Opperman suggests trying to understand the “evolutionary stage of this insurgency” and offers some clues: “If we look closely at the video, we clearly see that there are white people among the insurgents” and, from the outset, this allows us to realize that ” restricting al-Sunna (Ansar al-Sunna) to Cabo Delgado would be naive “.
“The sustained occupation of Mocímboa da Praia and the tactics used in Palma clearly show a refinement of guerrilla tactics. Therefore, what we are seeing is a tactic not from Cabo Delgado. There must have been training by foreigners with extensive experience in this type of war, “said the investigator.
On the other hand, he said, “the involvement of Tanzania and Tanzanians in the insurgency should not be underestimated. Al-Sunna’s staff are mostly local, but the role and participation of foreigners in the insurgency has been gaining strength. “, he accused.
The occupation of Mocímboa da Praia for such an extended period, “offered the ideal opportunity” for recruitment and training, considers Opperman.
As for al-Shabaab, or Ansar al-Sunna, this group remains focused on complaints and discontent of a “local” character, according to the researcher, using an “extremist narrative”, but “typical of Cabo Delgado, not linked to al -Qaeda or the Islamic State “.
But “we cannot ignore the reality in Cabo Delgado or the attempt by ISIS to take advantage of that reality. There are dynamics at play within the insurgency, but I want to make it clear that, in terms of most of the insurgency leaders, they are still predominantly from Cabo Delgado”, stated.
The IS, according to Opperman, has learned from mistakes, “saw the caliphate implode”, and now the strategy is mainly to “create areas of ungovernability” in the regions where it can have influence.
As for Ansar al-Sunna, the researcher thinks she is at a stage when she tries to “implement or import an identity associated with the extremist narrative, but the brutality and total destruction and indiscriminate death of civilians confuses the debate and raises questions about their goals”.
“Is it a secessionist movement? No, definitely. There is no statement in this sense. Is it an extremist narrative that tries to implement a more ‘pure’ Islamic way of life? I think this is more likely (…), but I can’t to give an objective answer about the purpose of this insurgency “, he admitted.
The fact, he finally underlined, is that the insurgency in Cabo Delgado has gained “immense strength”. And “I think the Maputo Government has some responsibility in this, with the reluctance to change its position, allowing the insurgency to grow, maintain and even increase its strength”.
The ACLED researcher considers that the main priority at this stage is “stability”, but adds that “the impetus of the insurgency must be broken. How? The security forces of the Mozambican government are not able to do this. We have been saying this for two to three years, that disability has been exposed over and over again “.
Hence, Opperman maintains that a “centralized command structure should be created, leading an international and regional force in Cabo Delgado, with land, air and naval forces, and with a coherent execution strategy”.
“I think that it will not create an immediate turnaround, but it will have a massive impact on the freezing of the insurgency. This command must have clear support from the Government, which then must intervene locally with the satisfaction of the needs and demands of the populations of Cabo Delgado. it is the only solution, there is no other way “, he concluded.
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