Friday, May 17, 2013
State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele told
Parliament this week there was evidence that several South African
citizens were linked to international terrorism organisations, including
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,
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.