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Profile: Mozambican insurgent leader Juma Saide Mussa

Footage has emerged of a captive who claims to have commanded maritime operations for the insurgency in Cabo Delgado

Information about a captured Mozambican insurgent leader called Juma Saide Mussa started surfacing on social media on Sunday.

The date and location of Juma’s capture remains unconfirmed. It is believed that he was caught by Mozambique Defence and Security Forces (FDS), but whether soldiers from Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) or Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) were also involved is unknown. An official statement is yet to be released.

Juma is 39 years old and is from Cabo Delgado province’s coastal Macomia district.

Insurgents reportedly forcibly recruited Juma less than two years ago during the first week of October 2020 after Pangane village, near the administrative post of Mucojo in Macomia district was attacked on 30 September.

“When they took me from Pangane, we went to the region of Muera, district of Mocímboa da Praia,” Juma explained in a video of him being interviewed by Mozambique Defence and Security Forces (FDS).

In it he can be seen shirtless and is eating something with his fingers.

He is speaking Kimwani and Kiswahili.

One of the main reasons Juma Saide was first taken by the terrorists was because one of the villagers told the attackers that he was a sailor, Mediafax reported.

He told the FDS he was forced to command a vessel transporting some of the insurgent leaders, supplies and looted goods from Pangane to Mocímboa da Praia on the same day that he was kidnapped.

Insurgents occupied all of Mucojo between Wednesday 30 September and Thursday 8 October 2020. The coastal area stretching north past Quiterajo to Mocímboa da Praia was under insurgent control.

What is known from that time is that insurgents stole at least eight boats and travelled from Pangane to Mocímboa da Praia.

Pangane was one of Macomia’s main fishing centres. Fishermen from Nampula, Mocímboa and even Tanzania lived and worked there.

Seafaring skills are appreciated by the insurgency and Juma quickly rose to leadership rank, he explained. He even commanded some operations.

The insurgency’s aim in Mozambique is for Islam to have power or “expression”, Juma explained.

Prior to his abduction and recruitment, Juma was never linked to radicalisation, according to those who know him. As a child he attended madrassa like his peers. He left school after elementary level and did not study beyond primary.

His mother is of Quirimbas heritage, Mediafax reported, while his father is described as having been a small local business owner in Pangane village.

Juma worked as a motor boat sailor for a local business owner Abubacar Achime before joining the insurgency.

Achime, who died last year, was once arrested on charges of links to terrorism. No evidence was ever presented, but he was forced to pay MZN400,000 (nearly $6,300) to be released, in a hostage scheme which allegedly involved local elements within state intelligence and security services, and the district attorney's office.

The capture of seven insurgents in Litingina village, Nangade district was reported by Pinnacle News on Thursday.

A list of names was later shared on Saturday.

Names listed included Anfai Supper, Zechariah Sumail, Ayuba Yassine, Selemane Nze, Sufo Maulana, Abdala José and Abudo Sele Anfai.

Additionally, the capture of a Tanzanian insurgent, identified only as Ali, has also been reported.

Official confirmation has not been released.

This article was produced by Zitamar and Mediafax under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.