Islamic State Mozambique demands Christians, Jews convert or pay jizya in social media threat

JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images
JOHN WESSELS/AFP via Getty Images

As part of its mission to establish a caliphate, the Islamic State Mozambique terror group has demanded that all Christians and Jews convert to Islam or pay a tax if they do not want to be slaughtered, and has declared an “endless war” on the Mozambican army, according to a report.

The message is part of a handwritten note addressed to the “Mozambican crusader army,” —Muslims, Christians and Jews in Mozambique — which appeared on social media earlier this month, Zitamar News reported.

Submit to Islam, pay tax or accept an “endless war,” the message warns Christians and Jews in the country. In a threat to the country’s army, it added, “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.”

The group also demands that “those who claim to be Muslims” cease to collaborate with the “godless government” or else “there is nowhere you can hide that we cannot reach.”

The handwritten note was reportedly found in Macomia district in northern Mozambique’s Cabo-Delgado province.

Thousands of people have been killed and nearly 1 million have been displaced by violence committed by Islamic extremist groups since an insurgency began in the Cabo-Delgado province in 2017. During that time, radicals attacked several villages and took control of a province rich with gas, rubies, graphite, gold and other natural resources.

The ISM group appears to be mimicking the rhetoric of Islamic State in Syria, Ryan O’Farrell, a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, was quoted as saying by Zitamar, which provides news and analysis of events in Mozambique.

But the group in Mozambique 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,” O’Farrell added.

In 2014, the Islamic State issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, Reuters reported at the time.

The group said at the time that Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” must pay a special levy known as “jizya” to be protected in the Muslim land. “We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract — involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.

In the mostly Muslim region of Cabo-Delgado in the otherwise Christian-majority Mozambique, Islamic extremists kidnap women and keep them as sex slaves and force boys to become child soldiers, The Washington Post reported last month.

“In 2017, jihadist insurgents began in the Cabo-Delgado province, winning over some locals due to the fact that they gave back resources to villagers from the government and killed no one,” the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported. “This did not last, however, as IS started setting fire to Christian villages, and killing those who lived there.”

At least 24 countries have sent troops to support the fight against insurgents in Mozambique. The Mozambique military has been accused of having 7,000 “ghost soldiers,” with some soldier payments going to defense officials, according to the BBC.

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