The global perception, informed by the media, believes that the conflict in Cabo Delgado is religious: Islamic terrorists who are intent on establishing an Islamic state there. This view is generally not shared by Mozambican commentators and analysts, who point out various root causes of the conflict.

Jacinto Veloso is a former Portuguese air force pilot who flew his plane to Tanzania to join Frelimo in 1963. He was Security Minister (1980-83) and continued in government until 1994. He is currently a member of the government’s National Defence and Security Council (CNDS). A minister during the 1982-92 war, he saw big power destabilisation first hand.

In an interview published in Savanah newspaper on 5 June 2020,  he argues that the war in Cabo Delgado represents a major strategic onslaught by an unknown party with vested interests in Mozambique’s gas resources in order to control them. “ We are dealing with a mega-operation conceived, directed, and executed from outside the country.” He cites as a model the United States use of Islamic fundamentalists, notably Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan from 1979 to eventually defeat the Russians.

Mozambican historian Yussuf Adam calls the Islamic insurgency “a smokescreen”.

These claims are not unfounded. A closer look at who profits from the mineral wealth and ongoing conflict in Cabo Delgado shows a complex web of powerful global corporates (with strong but not immediately apparent US interests) security contractors (some run by former US Marine Corps and FBI members and funded by the US government, others run by former officers in South Africa’s Apartheid military, and Ian Smith’s Rhodesian army).

TOTAL: How French?

Bloomberg reported on 16 July 2020 that, despite the drop in oil and gas prices due to Covid19, TOTAL still expects a revenue of US$ 50 billion over the next 25 years from its Cabo Delgado operations.

Because the company headquarters are located west of Paris, it is assumed that it is a French company, with company profits benefitting France. But TOTAL’s shareholdings show that this is not the case.

Estimates below are as of December 31, 2019, excluding treasury shares, based on the survey of identifiable holders of bearer shares conducted on that date –

34,5% of TOTAL’s institutional shareholders were American, with only 15,5% being French, and 36,9% combined from the rest of the world. Of its total shareholders, 34,9% are American, with 27,2% being French, 12,3% from the UK, 16,7% from the rest of Europe, and 8,9% from the rest of the world.


In view of the dominant American financial interests in TOTAL, it is not surprising that the US government would expand into security operations in Cabo Delgado. On 6 September, the American defence services provider Crisis Response Co (CRC) won a contract from the US State Department to provide strategic and tactical advice to the Mozambican government. The firm will seek to build the counter-terrorism capacities of the Mozambican Army (FADM) and strengthen cooperation between the two countries’ intelligence agencies. The contract reflects US strategic interests in the region. CRC, which will pocket a total of $3.5m over the course of the contract, has committed to supporting the government’s efforts to contain the insurrection for a five-year period. The landing of this contract followed a drive by CRC to recruit strategic advisors.

The ones in charge of CRC are:

Robert Akin: Chief Executive • Established CRC in 2009. Has won over 1.5B in contract awards. • Former USMC Officer with 35+ years of experience throughout the U.S., Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Tad Eckerle: Chief Growth Officer • Leads CRC’s global business development and operations teams. From the beginning in 2009, he has provided operational and administrative continuity. • Former Force Reconnaissance Marine with over 22 years of experience.

Jay Tabb: Senior Vice President, Global Security Division • Manages the GSD providing domestic and international security solutions. • Recently retired career FBI Senior Executive and Special Agent with 30 years of national security and law enforcement experience leading strategic programs, overseeing large budgets, and managing global security solutions.

Craig Kozeniesky: Vice President, Global Operations • Manages all CRC’s global operations including advisors, logistics life support, and construction. • Former USMC senior Officer with over 30 years of experience providing leadership and operational expertise worldwide throughout his military career.

Robert Akin is a former US Marine. On the website it says of CRC:

“Anytime, anywhere, CRC’s aim is to support US Government or aligning commercial objectives in one of the world’s most promising regions. We live this commitment every day as our team performs various missions in tough environments across the globe – especially in Africa”.

Jay Tabb is the former FBI Executive Assistant Director of the National Security Branch. The US Department of Homeland Security website ( ) says:

“CRC offers global security services, helping fulfil any security-related needs your company or contract may have. Led by Jay Tabb, former FBI Executive Assistant Director of the National Security Branch, Mr. Tabb has a unique understanding of the security climate throughout the globe and what it takes to successfully protect people and assets no matter the location.

The Global Security Division (GSD) of Crisis Response Company(CRC) provides advisory and security-related services to government and commercial clients globally. The services offered by GSD fall into two main lines of business: Security and Resiliency.

These security offerings include: Person of interest (POI) investigations; Physical security consulting; Technical security, including technical countermeasures and counter-surveillance; Selective and customized executive protection; Security auditing; Threat vulnerability, risk assessments and gap analysis; Security training; and privacy / digital security.

Resiliency offerings include: Consulting/advising in corporate security and corporate safety culture; Logistics and supply chain assessments; Business operations continuity.”

Craig Kozeniesky is a former Colonel in the US Marines, who served for many years in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was closely associated with Sheikh Shakir Saoud Aasi, in Ramadi (Iraq). published the above photo of Kozeniesky with Sheikh Shakir Saoud Aasi, with the following article:

“Pungent smoke floats through the chandeliers of the tribal chief’s reception room. At his home in Ramadi, capital of Anbar province and a onetime Iraqi insurgent stronghold, Sheik Shakir Saoud Aasi is enjoying after-dinner cigars with his guest of honor, battalion commander Lt. Col. Craig Kozeniesky of the 2/5 Marines. Around the room, Marines and Iraqi tribesmen and police are sitting together, swapping jokes and stories. Some of these Iraqis were probably shooting at Americans less than a year ago. Now they and the Marines are fighting side by side against Al Qaeda. “We are not just friends but also brothers,” the sheik tells Kozeniesky. “This is a new beginning for both of us.” Kozeniesky can only agree: “Things have changed dramatically.”


American contractor RMGS is to recruit two strategy advisers to assist Mozambique in its battle against the insurgency in Cabo Delgado. Through RMGS and Crisis Response Co., Washington is involving itself in events in the Mozambican oil province, where Maputo has been getting support until now from Russian and South African contractors. Under the authority of the US State Department, the advisers will have the job of training Mozambique’s counter-terrorism forces and helping them to bring into service new equipment, as well as strengthening cooperation and inter-operability between the Mozambican and American intelligence services and security forces. These latest recruitments are similar to those being made at the moment by Crisis Response Co. ( Africa Intelligence, 22/07/20), which carries out work for the State Department in Africa.

According to RMGS:

 “Supports the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Departments of Homeland Security & State and other government organizations with security, training, safety, logistics and consulting services.”

Based since 2008 in Virginia Beach on the eastern coast of the United States, the company is headed by Richard Hansen, Michael Purdy, Lynda Stafford and Leigh Von Haden, who is also a strategy adviser to the Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). There is little information available on Hansen, Stafford and Von Haden. But according to  Michael Purdy has 27 years’ experience as a naval officer, where he served in multiple SEAL Teams, as an “operator”. He was a founding member of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team SIX where he participated in the planning and execution of numerous classified, high risk assignments in support of national interests.

Lionel Dyck, Hendrik Bam and the Dyck Advisory Group (DAG)

To coordinate ground offensives more effectively with the aerial bombardments being conducted by his aircraft against the insurgents,  Zimbabwean Colonel Lionel Dyck (formerly an officer in Ian Smith’s Rhodesian Army) is overseeing training for the Mozambican police (PRM). The boss of Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) announced in July that training was needed for the Mozambican forces who are supposed to be providing support on the ground for the air strikes being carried out by DAG aircraft. To this end, Dyck has recruited Jacky d’Almeida, an old acquaintance and former FRELIMO soldier.

The Zimbabwean colonel first met d’Almeida at the end of the 1990s when DAG was specialising in mine clearance. Through DAG and his other firm Mine Tech International, Dyck was involved in demining operations in Mozambique while d’Almeida was running the Accelerated Demining Programme launched in the country by the United Nations in 1995 after the civil war.

D’Almeida is now in Cabo Delgado, where he is set to train PRM personnel under the supervision of the South African Hendrik Bam ( Africa Intelligence, 21/08/20). This former parachutist in the British army and factotum for Lionel Dyck has recruited a team of South African ex-special forces members to assist him on this new contract between DAG and the Mozambican police.

Bam coordinates DAG’s operations with the Mozambican authorities against the insurgents. It is not the first time that Bam has worked for a private military company. In June 2019, he was involved in a bid by Christiaan Durrant’s company Lancaster 6 (L6) to establish itself in Libya. Bam is one of the military contractors who helped South African pilot Steve Lodge to deliver six combat helicopters – three Super Puma and three Gazelle – to General Khalifa Haftar.

Under Lodge’s orders, Durrant’s men were supposed to prevent maritime convoys of supplies from getting through to the Tripoli government led by Fayez Sarraj. The operation was a failure, though: the helicopters did not meet Haftar’s expectations and the L6 contingent left the country after a few days. In May this year, a number of intelligence services including South Africa’s State Security Agency suspected that L6 was planning the shipping of these same helicopters from Libya to Mozambique, even though Durrant has denied any involvement. ( Africa Intelligence, 05/06/20).

Erik Prince

Originally known for his activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, American security magnate Erik Prince is expanding his activities in Africa. His Frontier Services Group (FSG) has established itself in the profitable medical evacuation business as it continues to provide its traditional services to Chinese mining groups, particularly in the DRC. The former US Navy SEAL officer, who saw himself at one point as a private military leader in Africa, is keeping a close eye on the insurrection in Cabo Delgado, believing that it currently offers the best prospects in Africa.

He set up a branch of  FSG in Maputo in late 2017 with former FSG East Africa manager Haijie Li, in charge of it. So far, FSG’s activities in Mozambique have concentrated on oil industry logistics in Cabo Delgado. FSG first established a joint venture with state-owned oil company Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH) before setting up its own company, Blue-Fin, in November 2019.

But Prince plans to break into the security market which has been created by the gas bonanza. In the maritime sector, he has set up a partnership with parastatal company Ematum. Ematum, which exists officially to develop tuna fishing in Mozambique, was heavily involved in the 2016 hidden debt scandal, which led to Mozambique losing $2bn worth of bonds and all its external aid. The company, which was then one third owned by a subsidiary of SISE (the military intelligence service), bought 24 fishing vessels and three fast Interceptor patrol boats equipped to provide surveillance and protection off the Mozambican coast. Tunamar, the Ematum subsidiary supposed to manage this fleet, is 49% owned by Prince The Interceptors have been spotted on several occasions outside the port of Pemba in Cabo Delgado.

FSG has also set up a private security company in Maputo called FSG Mozambique Segurança. Founded in July 2019, its local partner Lucilio Matsinha, son of General Mariano Matsinha, was arrested in September 2019 for possession of rhinoceros horns.

Prince is keen to involve himself in the conflict in Cabo Delgado. He has teamed up with Australian national Christiaan Durrant, a former fighter pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force and Prince’s right-hand man at FSG from 2013 to 2015. It was he who coordinated a project to build an armoured, weapon-carrying aircraft out of a crop-spraying aircraft.

Durrant is the head of Lancaster 6 (L6), a United Arab Emirate based company that organised the delivery of six Super Puma and Gazelle helicopters to Libya in June 2019 (see paragraph 5).

Intra Energy Corp (IEC), Intra Minerals, Minas do Lurio, Graeme Robertson, Winston Theler and his wife, Countess Benedicta von Schall-Riaucour.

On 13 August, Australia’s Intra Energy Corp (IEC) announced to its shareholders that it had acquired a 15% stake in the Mauritian company Intra Minerals. The entity, owner of 95% of Minas do Lúrio, develops the Lurío gold project in the south of Cabo Delgado. The acquisition came as a turning point for IEC, which in 2011 started production at Tanzania’s first coal mine, Mbalawala, where it produced nearly 750,000 tonnes in 2019. The company chairman, Graeme Robertson, signed an investment deal with Intra Minerals for an option to acquire an additional 30% share in the company for $1.3m.

To help establish itself in Cabo Delgado, IEC enlisted the services of Winston Theler – son of German princess Loretta von Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein and Spanish hotel magnate Juan Ramon Theler – and his wife, the German Countess Benedicta von Schall-Riaucour.

The pair wholly-owned Minas de Lúrio in a 50-50 split until August 2018, when Theler sold 5% of his shares to Mozambican lawyer Casimiro Filipe Chelele. Almost a year later, in June 2019, the couple sold the entire remaining 95% stake in the Lúrio project to Intra Minerals, now the majority shareholder in the project.

Despite having sold their shares in Minas do Lúrio, the couple continues to play an active role in the Mozambican conversion of IEC. Theler still administers Minas do Lúrio on Intra Minerals’ behalf. He and his wife are also board members of Pioneer Services, a mining services company created on 12 August for the Lúrio project. It is owned by Intra Minerals, with 95%, and Minas do Lúrio, with 5%.

IEC is not the first company that the Theler-Schall couple have introduced to Mozambique. In 2015, the couple was hired by Petronor Group, a para-oil services company owned by the Norwegian entrepreneur Hans Hoiskar, to develop its Mozambican subsidiaries Pemba Energy City and Palma Energy City, offering accommodation and housing services to foreign oil & gas employees in Cabo Delgado.


Gemfields Group Ltd (formerly Pallinghurst Resources Limited) is a natural resources company incorporated in Guernsey and headquartered in LondonUnited Kingdom. The company specializes in the mining, processing and sale of coloured gemstones, in particular emeralds and rubies. The group owns the Montepuez ruby mine in Cabo Delgado, which produces around 50% of the world’s ruby supply.

In addition to the gemstone mining and production assets the Group also owns and operates the Fabergé brand, one of the world’s most recognisable luxury brands. Fabergé provides the Group with direct access to the coloured gemstones end consumer and the brand is focussed on the promotion of the desirability of coloured gemstones through its jewellery, timepieces and objets.

Total Revenue: 216,2 million USD (2019)

Despite being incorporated in the UK, the company is South African owned, with Christo Wiese (the South African millionaire) owning 19,89% of its shares, Cape Town based company Oasis Assets Management owning 15,19% of its shares, and South Africa’s Old Mutual owning 14,9% of its shares. The company is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Rubies from the Montepuez area were previously sold by local artisanal miners, generating substantial incomes for themselves and their families.

Gemfields formed Montepuez Ruby Mining in partnership with a number of powerful individuals in Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party. Samora Machel Jr, the son of Mozambique’s first president, chaired the company’s first board. Only Montepuez Ruby Mining is permitted to produce and sell rubies from the 336 km2 concession. It is a lucrative investment: the company holds an exclusive 25-year mining license over the area, granted by the Mozambican government in November 2011. Montepuez began operations in this ruby deposit in 2012. According to Bloomberg, in 2019 Gemfields’ revenue was ZA Rand 3,124 billion.

Since the inception of operations, Gemfields has been dogged by allegations of human rights violations, forced removal of locals from their traditional lands, violence and torture against local persons and artisanal miners, and “militarizing “  the area. In April last year, a group of over 100 Mozambican miners filed a class-action lawsuit against Gemfields, alleging “serious human rights abuses” at Montepuez. Leigh Day, the lawyer dealing with the case, said at the time the company’s security team at the mine shot, beat and humiliated miners.

In January 2020, Gemfields chose to avoid a potentially expensive legal process in a “no admission of liability” settlement with attorneys representing community members residing near Montepuez. The gemstones miner and marketer said it would pay £5.8m to Leigh Day & Co which would be distributed to community members following allegations of violence by mine security last year.

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