Overview: The Republic of Mozambique regained significant amounts of territory from ISIS Mozambique (ISIS-M) in 2021, but ISIS-M continued to carry out attacks in the northern part of  the country. The Armed Conflict and Event Data Project reported 314 terrorist attacks in 2021, a  significant decrease from 2020, but the ongoing violence in Cabo Delgado Province has  displaced more than 800,000 people since it began in 2017.

On March 24, ISIS-M attacked the northeast town of Palma, creating thousands of IDPs as ISIS M expanded its control over the province. In response, TotalEnergies halted its natural gas  development operations in nearby Afungi peninsula and declared force majeure. However,  starting in July 2021, the deployment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Mission in Mozambique and Rwandan Defense Force (RDF) assisted the Mozambican Defense  and Security Forces (FDS) to regain territory, including Palma and Mocímboa da Praia, a  strategic port town that ISIS-M had taken in 2020. As of November 30, the Government of the  Republic of Mozambique reported that troops had captured 245 suspected terrorists and killed  200 terrorists in battle. As ISIS-M fighters dispersed, they attacked several villages, including in  two districts in Niassa Province.

2021 Terrorist Incidents: The following list details a small number of significant attacks:

  • On March 24, ISIS-M launched a multipronged complex attack on the town of Palma,  resulting in a days-long effort to reassert government control over the district and  prompting at least 50,000 IDPs to flee the area.
  • On September 12, ISIS-M ambushed an RDF convoy in Mocímboa da Praia district,  killing four RDF soldiers and injuring six others.
  • On October 2, ISIS-M kidnapped seven women from Nacate village in Macomia district,  which is located south of Mocímboa da Praia.
  • In November and December, ISIS-M moved across the provincial line into Niassa  Province for the first time and attacked several villages in Mecula and Marrupa districts. • On December 15, ISIS-M reportedly decapitated a Christian pastor in Macomia district  and ordered his wife to give his head to the FDS.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2021, the Government of the  Republic of Mozambique began crafting new legislation to amend current terrorism laws, though  it did not complete the process during the calendar year. The proposed amendments create  criminal penalties for domestic terrorism-related offenses, whereas current law addresses only international terrorism. The amendments would also establish sentences for terrorism-related  crimes between eight and 24 years in prison, the maximum penalty in Mozambique. There were  no significant changes in 2021 to Mozambique’s law enforcement CT capacity. Border security  also remained a challenge for Mozambique, with no significant changes in 2021.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: In June 2021, ESAAMLG released its Mutual  Evaluation Report (MER) for Mozambique. Among the MER’s key findings, ESAAMLG noted  “important technical compliance gaps” that need to be addressed and the lack of a National Risk  Assessment (NRA), factors that put Mozambique at risk of placement on FATF’s “gray list” of  countries publicly named as deficient on illicit finance measures. The Government of the  Republic of Mozambique started to address these gaps by drafting new laws on domestic  terrorism, money laundering, and terrorism finance, as well as an NRA, though all were pending  completion at year’s end.

Countering Violent Extremism: In July, the Ministry of Justice co-hosted a launch event for a  National Working Group on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR),  an initiative that brought together stakeholders from government, civil society, the private sector,  and the international community to discuss ways to address the drivers of conflict and instability

in Mozambique’s northern provinces. The Ministry of Defense also supported VPSHR,  signaling an increase in government support for the initiative throughout 2021.

On October 28, the Integrated Development Agency for the North unveiled the Resilience Plan  for Northern Mozambique (ERDIN), a long-term plan to address the root causes of the violence  through security, socioeconomic development, governance, and human rights engagement in the  northern provinces of Cabo Delgado, Niassa, and Nampula. At the end of 2021, ERDIN was still  waiting for approval by the Council of Ministers.

International and Regional Cooperation: In 2021, Mozambique accepted significant military  assistance from its neighbors and other partners, including the SADC, Portugal, Rwanda, and the  EU. Portugal began training commandos and marines in May, which became part of the EU  Training Mission, which launched in November, to train and equip 11 companies in the next two  years. While not a GCTF member, Mozambique participated in the Fourth Plenary Meeting of  the GCTF’s capacity building in the East Africa Region Working Group.

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