A savage jihad — replete with massacres, beheadings, and sexual enslavement — has been raging in the Christian-majority nation of Mozambique since 2017.
Few in the West are aware of this, not least as the situation has been garbed in Marxist language that seeks to depict radical terrorists as "victims" and those resisting them, including the Mozambican government, as "oppressors."
A December 2021 report details how the Islamic State came to power in this southeast African nation:
"Mozambique is a majority Christian country, with Muslims comprising around a fifth of its population.
"A religious movement, Ansar al-Sunna, first appeared in 2015 in the north of the country, formed by followers of radical Kenyan cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed who has been linked to the 1998 US embassy bombings....
"It started building mosques and religious schools, becoming more and more popular with locals.
"But in 2017, the group starting launching attacks and became known locally as al-Shabab [the Youth], although they do not have any known connection to Somalia's jihadist rebels of that name....
"Islamic State then confirmed that jihadis in Mozambique had joined its Central Africa Province division (ISCAP), along with militants in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"ISIS have since claimed responsibility for many of the attacks carried out in Mozambique, including brutal beheadings and massacres, often posting photos of the victims online....
"The militants still refer to themselves as al-Shabab but they are now strongly considered to be an arm of ISIS, which was confirmed by US officials in December."
The terrorists, who go by many names, but are perhaps best known as the "Islamic State in Mozambique" (ISM), are especially active in and have gained effective control of the resource-rich Cabo Delgado province in late 2017. It has since been termed "the Land of Fear" due to the "brutal violence meted out against both Christians and moderate Muslims." On April 22, 2020, the Guardian reported:
"Militants have stepped up attacks in recent weeks as part of a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate in the gas-rich region, seizing government buildings, blocking roads and briefly hoisting a black-and-white flag carrying religious symbols over towns and villages across Cabo Delgado province. The flag is also used by Isis and other Islamic extremists..."
By May 2020, the massacres had reached the point that a "Genocide Warning" was issued. As of December 2021, the terrorists had slaughtered 3,340 people and displaced nearly a million more. The numbers of those killed and displaced has grown in the last year-and-a-half, though there appear to be no official statistics.
As in other African nations, the Muslim terrorists of ISM are deliberately targeting Christians. Discussing the situation, Todd Nettleton, of The Voice of the Martyrs USA, said:
"They say their goal is to set up a caliphate similar to ISIS in Iraq and Syria. And they are in some cases, literally going door to door. They ask, 'Are you a Christian? Or are you a Muslim?' If you're a Christian, you're killed [including by crucifixion]. If you're a Muslim, then you get the opportunity to quote some Quranic verses. And if you can quote them sufficiently, you save your life. Otherwise, you also get killed [for being insufficiently Islamic]."
Similarly, Amy Lamb of Open Doors said that "their [the terrorists'] goal is really to eradicate Christianity from this territory and, unfortunately, in some ways, it's working."
The terrorists have themselves been vocal of their anti-Christian aims. In November 2022, ISM announced on social media:
"We will escalate the war against you [the 'Mozambican crusader army'] until you submit to Islam... Our desire is to kill you or be killed, for we are martyrs before Allah, so submit or run from us."
The statement also specifically named Christians and Jews, whom it offered "three choices: submit to Islam, pay tax [jizya], or accept endless war."
Other aspects of the Muslim persecution of Christians evident elsewhere in Africa — including rape and sexual slavery — are evident in Mozambique. According to a report published in December 2021, the Islamic terrorists have kidnapped and enslaved more than 600 women and girls since 2018 in just Cabo Delgado:
"The [ISM] group... forced younger, healthy-looking, and lighter-skinned women and girls in their custody to 'marry' their fighters, who enslave and sexually abuse them. Others have been sold to foreign fighters for between 40,000 and 120,000 Meticais (US$600 to US$1,800)."
In 2020, Paulo Rangel, a Portuguese Member of the European Parliament said:
"At present we know that there are young girls who have been abducted and enslaved, forced into sexual slavery by some of these guerrillas, these insurgents, these terrorists... We know that the recruitment of boys and adolescents, some of them very young, aged 14, 15, 16, is also happening. It is obvious that these young boys are under coercion. If they refuse to join the group, they could be killed."
Below are a few of the more notable incidents of terror to occur:
May 2018: Islamic terrorists beheaded 10 people with machetes on May 29. "There are 10 citizens who have been hideously killed," said a police spokesman. "The environment is scary."
April 2020: Muslim terrorists of ISM "cruelly and diabolically" slaughtered 52 villagers, most of them young men who refused to join the group. The terrorists also torched five or six chapels. Underscoring the hate, Bishop Lisboa described what happened to the historic Sacred Heart of Jesus mission:
"They attacked the church and burnt the benches and a statue of Our Lady, made of ebony. They also destroyed an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to whom the parish is dedicated."
After noting that Islamic militants were responsible for "escalating extremist violence" in Cabo Delgado — "where multiple churches have been burnt, people beheaded, young girls kidnapped, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the violence" — a July 20 report adds:
"During Holy Week this year insurgents perpetrated attacks on seven towns and villages in Cabo Delgado province, burning down a church on Good Friday, and killing 52 young people who refused to join the terrorist group."
In just one week in the previous month of June, 15 people were beheaded in the Christian-majority nation.
May 2020: "It was fierce, cruel and lasted three days," a nun said of a jihadist raid on the town of Macomia between May 28-30. There was only devastation when Sister Blanca Nubia Castaño returned:
"As a result of this barbarism, the town center was completely destroyed, the majority of the administrative infrastructure was damaged and the commercial and shopping center was reduced to ashes.... We still don't know the number of civilian victims or those of the security forces. On June 3, people slowly began to return to their homes, some of which had been burned, while others had been looted.... "
Islamic terrorists also attacked a monastery in May 2020. The four monks residing in it managed to hide and emerge unscathed. However, the hospital they were building for a nearby village was destroyed by the armed Muslims.
November 2020: According to one report:
"Islamic militants turned a village soccer field in northern Mozambique into an execution ground when they beheaded more than 50 people during three days of savage violence between Friday, November 6, and Sunday, November 8....
"In one attack, gunmen shouting 'Allahu Akbar' stormed into Nanjaba village on November 6, firing weapons and setting homes on fire. Two villagers were beheaded and several women abducted....
"[A]nyone who refuses to support the jihadists and embrace their beliefs is attacked, and their property set on fire. Thus Christians who refuse to deny Christ are among the victims. The attacks are among the worst seen in recent years in the brutal campaign by militant Islamists to establish an Islamist caliphate in the oil and gas-rich Cabo Delgado province."
March 2021: On Mar. 24, scores of people were massacred or forced to flee during an Islamic terror attack near a major gas plant in Cabo Delgado. The number of casualties remains unknown; a local source said the area was covered with bodies, "with heads and without." Among the victims were 12 Westerners who were "tied up and beheaded" said an official. ISM later boasted of "killing at least 55 people, including Christians, Mozambique soldiers, state nationals and 'crusaders.'"
Hundreds fled into the bush on foot: "We have many children here," said a survivor who walked three days without food and water. "Many children are dying in the bush ... People have been captured and others have died." According to a separate report, published on Mar. 16, a few days before this massacre, correspondents in Mozambique were "sickened to our core" listening to mothers recount the fate of their children, some as young as 11, at the hands of the Muslim terrorists: "That night, our village was attacked, and houses were burned," one mother recalled. "When it all started, I was at home with my four children. We tried to escape to the woods, but they took my eldest son and beheaded him."
December 2021: After decapitating a Christian pastor, ISM terrorists handed the pastor's severed head to his widow and ordered her to deliver it to police.
August 2022: Muslim terrorists beheaded two Christians during a raid on a minibus. ISM later issued a statement claiming the murders: "By the grace of God Almighty, the soldiers of the Caliphate... killed two Christians, beheading them, and shooting them with weapons."
September 2022: Muslim terrorists stormed a Catholic mission compound in Chipene, where they set fire to the church, schools, and hospitals. One of the nuns, Maria De Coppi, was shot in the head and murdered as she ran towards a burning dormitory to assist the few remaining students hiding there. She was 83-year-old and had spent 59 years serving the people of Mozambique. Discussing this martyr, Bishop Alberto Vera Aréjula of Nacala said:
"I knew her, and she was the image of a mother, she was really helping everyone with simple love and humility.... Sister Maria de Coppi was a nurse who would help malnourished children in a little room where there was milk and flour, and they destroyed that room as well. The Sister they murdered worked with malnourished babies and children, [and] they are telling us very clearly that they don't want us there."
Three other Christians were killed during this attack. ISM later claimed responsibility for the attack and said they killed the nun because she had "excessively engaged in spreading Christianity."
On the following day, during another raid, the terrorists rounded all the villagers up. According to one source:
"When they were all gathered, they started asking who is Muslim and who is Christian. Those who identified as Christian, they started tying their hands behind their back and they cut their throats.
"One Christian managed to flee and he is the one who told the story. This is what happened on the night of Sept. 6 and the following day – 11 people were murdered in total and they left a trail of destruction and a lot of fear."
"Jihadists set fire to a church building and several houses in the Chiure district of Cabo Delgado Province on October 26, killing one person.
"The Islamists also announced the killing of 20 Christians and the displacement of hundreds more in Cabo Delgado between October 3 and 20."
Along with the church they torched, the jihadists said in a communique that they had also destroyed "other church property in Cabo Delgado," though no details were given. At least eight Christians were slaughtered in the same region in the previous month.
February 2023: In a statement, ISM said that "the soldiers of the Caliphate... captured five Christians and slaughtered them, praise be to Allah."
In July 2020, Bishop Lisboa, discussing the situation in Mozambique, said: "The world has no idea yet what is happening because of indifference. We do not yet have the solidarity that there should be." What is happening is "an injustice that is crying out to heaven."
Around the same time, Paulo Rangel, a Portuguese Member of the European Parliament, said: "The international community is nowhere to be seen in regard to the problem."
Three years and countless more slaughters later, the world still has no idea what is happening, and the international community is nowhere to be seen.
Why? One reason is the media. They are committed to presenting the situation in purely economic terms, rarely if ever indicating that the terrorists are fueled by an expansionist, jihadist agenda to create an Islamic caliphate and subjugate if not slaughter Christians.
This situation is a duplicate of the situation in Nigeria: there, Muslims are committing genocide against Christians for purely ideological (Islamic) reasons, while here, in the West, the media and establishment are insisting that "religion is not driving extremist violence [in Nigeria]," to quote Johnnie Carson, then-President Barack Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, speaking after Muslim terrorists shouting "Allahu akbar" slaughtered 50 Christian church worshippers in Nigeria on Easter Sunday, 2012.
Even though the March 2021 massacre in Mozambique took place nearly four years after it was clear that jihadists had infiltrated the country, and even though ISM claimed the attack, using typical jihadist language — referring to those it slaughtered as "crusaders," etc. — Britain's Channel 4 News resorted to the usual dissembling, claiming that "doubts have been cast over who was behind the siege." The rest of that report, "How poverty and corruption fuel terrorism across Africa," argues that such attacks, which "are on the rise across the African continent," are "a consequence of poverty, [and] domestic grievances new and old..."
Always happy to capitalize on Western gullibility and portray themselves as oppressed victims merely seeking to redress injustice and champion the people, the Islamic State in Mozambique — like Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda before them — have tried to further such a narrative. During the raid where 83-year-old Sister Maria was murdered, for example, the terrorists, evidently in part to scapegoat the government, appeared dressed in military uniforms.
A genocidal jihad is being waged against Christians in virtually every corner of sub-Saharan Africa — from Nigeria in the northwest, to Mozambique in the southeast — but, for some reason, these black lives apparently do not matter.
Raymond Ibrahim, author of Defenders of the West, Sword and Scimitar, Crucified Again, and The Al Qaeda Reader, is the Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and the Judith Rosen Friedman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.