7/17/2019
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‘SA citizens linked to terror groups’
Independent Online
Friday, May 17, 2013

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State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele told Parliament this week there was evidence that several South African citizens were linked to international terrorism organisations, including al-Qaeda.

Cwele expressed confidence that on the weight of the evidence gathered the suspects would be arrested and charged soon. He said authorities had not previously found substantial information linking South Africans to organisations that are participating in terrorism activities, but “last year we picked up some information that some are linked to terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab” in Somalia, he said. While South Africa had never faced a real threat of global terrorism, “the situation has changed”.

There have been several low-level incidents involving al-Qaeda in South Africa:

* In 2004, a leaked US CIA report stated: “A new tier of al-Qaeda leaders is using South Africa as one of its bases”, with as many as 30 leaders “thought to be in and around Cape Town, Durban and the Eastern Cape”.

* Prior to South Africa’s 2004 presidential and parliamentary elections the police commissioner announced that authorities had arrested and deported several individuals linked to al-Qaeda. The actions led to subsequent raids and arrests in Jordan, Syria and Great Britain.

* South Africans have also travelled to the Middle East and Central Asia to join al-Qaeda. South African jihadists have also fought alongside the Taliban against the Soviet Union.

* In July 2004, two South African citizens were arrested in Pakistan alongside one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists, Khalfan Ghailani.

They were arrested during a gun battle with Pakistani police in Gujrat. They had in their possession an array of maps highlighting tourist, financial and diplomatic targets in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.

* In the late 1990s, al-Qaeda operative Khalfan Khamis Mohamed used South Africa as a safe haven, fleeing to Cape Town in the aftermath of the 1998 East African bombings in which over 200 people died. He applied for asylum and remained here until the FBI had authorities arrest him. He was extradited to the US and was convicted for his role in the bombing.

* In September 2009, the US government briefly closed its facilities across South Africa after it received credible threats which reportedly came from an al-Qaeda splinter group.

* In June 2011, Fazul Abdullah Mohammad, an al-Qaeda operative and mastermind behind the 1998 US Embassy bombings, was killed in Somalia. Reports indicate he was carrying a South African passport under the name of Daniel Robinson.



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