ISIS has been on the rise in northern Mozambique with raids on coastal towns now threatening one of the worlds busiest shipping lanes.
The Mozambique strait is a major for global maritime trade and in August 2020 the militants stormed and took the Port of Mocímboa da Praia.
According to researcher Lucas Webber the insurgency has since grown in sophistication and posing a real threat to transit vessels.
Mr Webber told the Popular Front podcast: “[Mocímboa da Praia] is a strategically important port town and that was the first major event that brought international attention.
“Even though they had taken over this town before it is actually the cradle of the insurgency.
“It has its roots in that region and prior to this they took control of it but they hadn’t launched an operation of that magnitude and held a town of that seize for a meaningful period.
“If you look at the operations profile leading up to this event in the August of 2020 they launched a series of probing attack along the coast to sort of gather intelligence, supplies and plan for what they were going to do.
“Afterwards they launched a series of raids against coastal villages and they used the territory to conduct island hopping operations and expand their maritime control.
“Improve their freedom of movement and grow their power projection capabilities.
In March 2021 the town of Palma also fell to ISIS after a three pronged assault which overran the settlement trapping a number of expats employed at nearby gas fields.
The Mozambique military retook the town in April.
Mr Webber continued: “The attack actually caused French energy giant Total to suspend operations on what is the largest private investment project in all of Africa across the whole continent.
“So it was significant.”
The researcher added that by looking at a maritime traffic heat map of the area off Palma the scale of the threat becomes clear.
“You can see how concentrated the trade flows are through the Mozambique Channel which is adjacent to this coastal towns that have been over running and raiding
“I believe it is 30 per cent of global tanker traffic runs through this chokepoint.
“Chokepoints, there is a reason they reason so much attention from geo political strategists because they are such a vulnerable point. If it is closed off it can cause mass disruption.
“As we have seen by the recent blocking of the canal by a cargo ship.”
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