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A Facebook account used to incite support for the terrorist insurgency in parts of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado apparently belongs to someone born in Nampula, but currently resident in the Cabo Delgado capital, Pemba, according to an investigation by the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique”.
The account, in the name of Shakira Junior Lecticia (believed to be a pseudonym), was set up just 20 days after the first attack against the town of Mocimboa da Praia, on 5 October 2017.
However, only in this year did the Facebook account become open in its support for the insurgency, and its attempt to mobilise young people in Cabo Delgado to join the terrorists.
This Facebook page began to attract attention in May, when “Shakira Lecticia” accused the Macomia District Attorney of swindling local citizens and manipulating the Macomia judge. This Attorney was later expelled from the Public Prosecutor’s Office for various irregularities.
From that time on, the Shakira account grew in visibility and reached the limit of 5,000 Facebook “friends”. Shakira took to attacking the Macomia district government and the defence and security forces, accusing them of incompetence.
He also wrote about the conflict in Cabo Delgado, and posted photos of youths supposedly receiving money for their participation in terrorist raids. Although some of these photos are certainly fake, “Carta de Mocambique” established that Lecticia certainly had privileged access to information about the insurgency.
For his Facebook page often provided information about attacks before they had been mentioned in any of the Mozambican media. This leads to suspicion that he was in direct contact with senior figures in the terrorist organisation who were feeding him with information.
Thus one attack in Nangade district on 22 November, in which 11 people died, took place at 09.45. It was immediately reported on the Shakira Facebook page, which showed a photo of a young man receiving a bundle of notes of 1,000 meticais each, supposedly as payment for his participation in the attack. “Transaction confirmed”, said the caption.
Two days later there was another attack in Nangade, in which nine people were murdered. Photos of the killings swiftly found their way onto Shakira’s page, but since the images are gruesome, Facebook removed them.
Three weeks earlier, on 6 November, Shakira Lecticia boasted “From the Rovuma to the Maputo, they want me, and I am being looked for everywhere. But it won’t be easy – I’m a trained hacker. Neither the criminal investigation police nor the secret police are going to catch me”.
“Carta de Mocambique” has investigated the photos on this Facebook page, finding that they depict people who are real, but have nothing to do with the insurgency.
Some are depicted as holding bundles of money, as if they had just been paid for participating in attacks.
The paper identified one as 23 year old Joao Alvaro, who works in Beira in an institution linked to the Defence Ministry. He says he has never been in the northern districts of Cabo Delgado affected by the insurgency, and was surprised to find his photo circulating in social media. Shakira had lifted the photos from WhatsApp.
One young woman whose photo was lifted and published by Shakira without her authorisation, Amina Hassane, protested to Facebook for three consecutive days. This may be one of the reasons why the account disappeared from Facebook on 10 December.
“Carta de Mocambique” says the police are trying to uncover the real identity of Shakira Lecticia.
His Facebook profile is certainly false. In it, Shakira claims that he used to work for a company called Mobilias Yuran in Nampula. There is a legally registered company of that name, but not in Nampula. The paper contacted its owner, who knew nothing of any Shakira Lecticia.