One of the supposed leaders of Mozambique’s insurgency has been identified. The US government released an updated list of Africa’s extremist leaders last week. Among them was Mozambican Bonomade Machude Omar.

Omar was identified as leading the Military and External Affairs Department for ISIS-Mozambique. He is also the lead coordinator for attacks in the northern Cabo Delgado province as well as attacks in Tanzania’s Mtwara region.

The State Department ( statement says:

“I am announcing the appointment of five terrorist leaders in Africa. Bonomade Machude Omar, Sidan ag Hitta, Salem ould Breihmatt, Ali Mohamed Rage and Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir are designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) under Executive Order 13224, as amended.

BonomadeMachudeOmar, also known as Abu Sulayfa Muhammad and Ibn Omar, heads the Departments of Military and External Affairs of ISIS-Mozambique and serves as senior commander and main coordinator of all attacks carried out by the group in northern Mozambique, as well as main facilitator and channel of communication for the group. During the March 2021 attack on Palma, Omar led a group of fighters while Abu Yasir Hassan, the leader of ISIS-Mozambique, led another group of fighters, and Omar also led the attack on the Hotel Amarula in Palma. Omar was responsible for attacks in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique, and the Mtwara region, Tanzania.

The United States is committed to disrupting the funding methods of ISIS-Mozambique, JNIM and al-Shabaab – all referred to as Foreign Terrorist Organizations and ODSS – limiting its capabilities to conduct new attacks against civilians and supporting our partners in efforts to disrupt funding for the terrorism. Addressing the terrorist threat across the continent will require working closely with our partners to degrade the capabilities and operations of these terrorist groups, combating their control and influence in western, eastern and southern Africa.”

The Centre for Investigative Journalism (CJI, 22 & 29 Sep) has published two articles in English about local insurgent leaders and how they gain support and protection. CJI identifies Bonomado Machude Omar (aka Ibn Omar) as the speaker in a March video that went viral, and is seen as a leader. His father was a teacher and local politician, and he attended a local secondary school in Mocimboa da Praia and gained high marks, before going abroad to study Islam. When he returned he preached an extreme form of Islam and won support from some community leaders and local people.

The other article is about Abdala Likonga (aka Alberto Shaki) from Mocimboa da Praia, who is said to be the “mastermind” of some of the insurgent offensives. He started trading and eventually opened a shop in Palma selling construction material and car parts. He was radicalised in Kenya and DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). He faked his death and was involved in the 5 October 2017 attack on Mocimboa da Praia.

IESE (Institute of Economic and Social Studies) identifies Andre Idrissa from Cogolo village, Pangane, on the coast of Macomia district as one of the first faces of Al Sabaab. His story is told in a fascinating and detailed investigation by Serio Chichava, research director of IESE, in a 28 September report. The son of a local Sheik, Idrissa was born in 1986, and became a local businessman, selling basic goods and motorcycle parts he bought in Tanzania. He gained high social prestige. In his trade with Tanzania he was influenced by Wahhabi followers, and then more radical Tanzanian sheiks. He set up a local mosque in 2015 and attracted a following among local youth. He came into conflict with traditional mosques. He was part of the original attack on Mocimboa da Praia on 5 October 2017.

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