The U.S has deployed Army Green Berets to Mozambique to train local troops as the country faces a growing insurgency that has seen children as young as 12 beheaded as well as thousands killed and displaced in the country. Analysts say this intervention is long overdue with a rise in “appalling atrocities.” More than 2,600 people have died since 2017 from the fighting and terrorist activity that began in north Mozambique. The U.N. reports the insurgents have committed “killing, rape and other atrocities.” The U.S. Special Forces soldiers were sent to train Mozambican marines for two months to counter the spread of violence by the Islamic extremist group, al-Shabab. “The U.S is committed to supporting Mozambique with a multifaceted approach to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism,” the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique said in a statement.
“Civilian protection, human rights, and community engagement are central to U.S. cooperation and are foundational to effectively counter Islamic State in Mozambique.” “This approach addresses socioeconomic development issues as well as the security situation,” the statement adds. The elite Green Berets are often deployed worldwide to build relationships, go on missions with locals and teach them how to fight effectively. The U.S. government launched the Joint Combined Exchange Training program to help prevent the spread of terrorism and will also provide communications and medical treatment. The U.S. recently designated the Islamic State-linked insurgents in Mozambique a “foreign terrorist organization.” Islamic State affiliates in Mozambique are also known as Ansar al-Sunna and known locally as al-Shabaab.
“Since October 2017, ISIS-Mozambique, has killed more than 1,300 civilians, and it is estimated that more than 2,300 civilians, security force members, and suspected ISIS militants have been killed since the terrorist group began its insurgency,” a State Department announcement reads. “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.” According to the State Department, attacks by Islamic extremists in Mozambique have caused the displacement of nearly 670,000 persons within Mozambique. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a recent press briefing that designating Islamic State-Mozambique and Islamic State-DRC as specially designated global terrorist organizations is “an important step in the global fight to defeat ISIS.”
“The U.S will continue to expose and isolate terrorists, disrupt their support networks, deny them access to the U.S. financial system, and do everything in our power to preserve the security of the United States,” Price said. “We remain engaged with our partners to address security challenges and to advance peace and security in Africa.” Senior leaders with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees warned of the urgent need in the Cabo Delgado province due to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of individuals. The number of internally displaced people has increased from around 70,000 about a year ago to nearly 700,000 today. U.N. officials predict the number is expected to reach 1 million by June. Most displaced people have fled south or found shelter with family or friends. The government is developing sites for those who remain.
More than half of the displaced people are children. The British aid organization Save the Children published a report featuring interviews with survivors who recalled children as young as 11 being killed by insurgents. A 28-year-old mother told how her 12-year-old son was beheaded. “Our village was attacked and houses were burned. When it all started, I was at home with my four children,” she recalled. “We tried to escape to the woods, but they took my eldest son and beheaded him. We couldn’t do anything because we would be killed too.” “Instability in the region prevents a reliable count of those affected., but the violence is widespread and often religiously motivated,” Open Doors spokesperson Amy Lamb said. “It’s part of a spread of extremist violence throughout the Sub-Saharan region, as factions of ISIS and their splinter groups expand their reach.”
Lamb said this matter is of “grave concern” and is often fuelled by religion against believers. “Make no mistake: this violence is religiously-motivated, and Christians alongside other religious minorities are being systemically targeted,” Lamb wrote. “Christians everywhere should pray urgently for the protection and provision of people in this region.”Christians make up over half of Mozambique, yet Islamic oppression is strong and accelerating. Islamic extremists have destroyed Christian places of worship, schools and business, as many Christians have been forced to flee their homes, Open Doors reported. The presence of drug cartels in some areas also leads to increased persecution, especially in the country’s northern region.
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