Islamic State Mozambique (ISM) has reiterated its intention to establish a caliphate in a message vowing to slaughter all Christians and Jews unless they convert to Islam or pay tax, despite lacking the organisational means to enforce such a tax. The message also declares “endless war” on the Mozambican army and calls on Muslims to collaborate or face consequences.
Images of the handwritten message emerged on social media around 10 November, with indications it was found in Macomia district. The note is addressed to the “Mozambican crusader army,” Muslims, and Christians and Jews in Mozambique, in that order.
To the army, ISM asserts: “We will escalate the war against you until you submit to Islam… Our desire is to kill you or be killed, for we are martyrs before God, so submit or run from us.”
ISM states that their war is not with “those who claim to be Muslims” but demands that they cease collaborating with the “godless government” or else “there is nowhere you can hide that we cannot reach.”
In their message to the Christians and Jews, ISM offers three choices: submit to Islam, pay tax, or accept “endless war.”
Ryan O’Farrell, a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation and researcher on Islamist militancy in east Africa, told Zitamar the message reflects “an enthusiasm to mirror at least the rhetoric of Islamic State” even though the group lacks “the kind of administrative capacity and consistent presence you see in Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) which has quite a well built-out taxation system.”
[pullquote]As ISM currently lacks the administrative capability to collect jizya, this message could be interpreted simply as a rhetorical justification for extorting the population, according to O’Farrell.[/pullquote]
The three choices have appeared across Islamic State propaganda. In August, IS Central African Province released a video addressed to “Congolese Christian rulers” declaring that they would wage war “until God establishes one of these three for you: Islam, jizya, or [continuous] fighting.”
Jizya refers to a tax levied on non-Muslims in many Islamic societies across history. The previous issue of the IS weekly newsletter Al Naba, published 10 November, also carried the demand that Jews and Christians convert or pay jizya.
However, O’Farrell noted that ISM’s message “almost entirely resorts to threatening language rather than also attempting to appeal to civilians, as you see with groups like ISWAP, who do seem to be trying to establish themselves as a preferable alternative to the government.”
As ISM currently lacks the administrative capability to collect jizya, this message could be interpreted simply as a rhetorical justification for extorting the population, according to O’Farrell.
In any case, the message represents an attempt to adopt the trappings of a ‘caliphate’ in line with the stated objectives of the Islamic State leadership, which has reportedly criticised ISM for undermining the establishment of an Islamic government by terrorising the population out of Cabo Delgado. The Centre for Investigative Journalism in Mozambique claimed in October that ISM commander Ibn Omar had been summoned to a meeting of IS senior members in the Democratic Republic of Congo and told to stop killing so many civilians and start charging taxes.