U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) troops are heading to Mozambique to train Mozambican marines for a two-month Joint Combined Exercise Training (JCET) in counter-insurgency tactics as al-Shabaab’s attacks rise. There are additional reports that Portugal is also going to furnish training support for Mozambique’s marines. 

“U.S. Special Operations Forces… will support Mozambique’s efforts to prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism,” the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique said in a statement released on  March 15.

The terrorist group, which is aligned with al-Qaeda in Somalia, has a splinter faction in Mozambique that has aligned itself with the Islamic State (ISIS). The U.S. designated it a terrorist organization on March 10, as part of its overall anti-terrorism effort against al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Al-Shabaab’s insurgency began in 2017. The group has conducted more than 600 attacks on the population as well as government officials and facilities. More than 2,000 people have been killed and half a million have been displaced due to the violence, according to the United Nations. 

Last November, the terrorist group resorted to beheading over 50 people on a soccer field.

Tens of thousands of the displaced have been fleeing to Niassa province to the west. Officials are concerned that al-Shabaab terrorists will mix with refugees and spread instability to Niassa.

The ongoing violence in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado has been getting out of control and government officials are concerned that it will spread south to other provinces.

Cabo Delgado, located in northern Mozambique, is home to the strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia. Cabo Delgado is plagued by extreme poverty, income inequality, and low government presence, i.e. all of the tell-tale signs of an area ripe for an insurgency.