Tuesday 14 May 2013

Should South Africa reconsider its giving Al Qaeda alleged safe harbour?

With Alleged Al Qaeda training camps given free reign in South Africa, according to the year of investigative journalism by the Daily Maverick, we note not only the likelihood the report is correct, but the extensive history Al Qaeda has with South Africa. We further note the manner in which the Muslim community has viewed the article as a biased attack against their culture and religion, and their claims of it as fear mongering.

Update: Today, after we published this work, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele: openly admitted that there are South Africans with links to Al Qaeda, and to terrorist activities affecting other nations. He stated however in a denial of claims of South Africa giving Al Qaeda free safe harbour, that investigations take time to stand up in court. This is in contrast to claims that South Africa refuses to deal with the multiple Al Qaeda camps alleged to exist. Below we detail the extensive reported history of the relationship between the South African government and alleged Al Qaeda. We also detail as promised above, the Daily Maverick investigation, and the likelihood the report from this is correct.


When the head of Al Qaeda in East Africa: Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, was found dead, in Mogadishu, in Somalia, with a South African passport, South African home affairs investigated the matter. Home affairs established to their satisfaction, in June 2011 that it was a forgery of the old design of the South African passport. The passport, under the name of Daniel Robinson, of a birth date in 1971, had a Tanzanian visa within, which passport had convinced the Somalis it was a genuine passport despite apparent design flaws. The issue was dropped.

The Official Opposition Democratic Alliance on the 13th June 2011 claimed at the time that this was not the first use of South African identity passes. In 2004, they claimed: that Tunisian national Ihsan Garnaoui told the Germans he has several South African passports, while suspected as a member of Al Qaeda.

The Official Opposition Democratic Alliance further claimed that British national: Haroon Rashid Aswat, who they allege was the ringleader of the 2005 London bombings, entered the United Kingdom on a South African passport, after residing in South Africa for a period.

The Official Opposition, in these claims by their Annette Lovemore, further noted the alleged use of a fake South African passport under the name Altaf Ravat by Mohammed Gulzar, which use they alleged was to further an intent of exploding transatlantic airliners during flight.


When the African Union in 2010, asked South Africa to send its South African National Defence force to Somalia, the matter was considered by the Administration of Jacob Zuma, and troops were seemingly never sent.

When Mali's north was conquered by Islamist militia, and when Al Qaeda became involved in the conflict, the state of Chad, was the one to partner with France to preserve peace and security in the region. So much so, that foreign media alleged that Chad had surpassed South Africa as Africa's superpower. South African navy vessels carry troops up and down Africa's coastlines on multiple mostly little reported missions, and South Africa has multiple semi-permanent forces on the continent, including those which stood against the Muslim lead Seleka in Central African Republic, and those set to be deployed against the M 23 forces in Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. When Al Qaeda is involved in a conflict, South Africa often seems to shy away.


In July 2012, the Daily Voice, an Independent Newspapers title,via their Genevieve Serra, reported on a Christian bishop in the Western Cape, a former police inspector, who feared that a number of murders of Ethiopian Christians, were not mere xenophobia, but rather assassinations at the behest of Al-Shabaab, a group operating in Somalia with ties to Al Qaeda. The killings which took place over a ten month period were conducted across the Western Cape. It was claimed that Al Shabaab, in the guise of Somali refugees, were attempting to halt Christians from taking refuge in South Africa. Another Christian leader, Father Mike Williams, an Anglican confirmed the bishop's story, saying that he knew of seven such killing in his own congregation. According to Independent Newspapers, President Jacob Zuma, was made aware of these killings, and referred the bishop to someone in the police ministry, following which an extensive investigation was reportedly opened, due to a pattern in the deaths of these Ethiopian Christians. No follow up by police has made any headlines which our service was able to access, no Al Qaeda or Al Shabaab cell was paraded around, and there is no report of a finding of the absence of this, almost a year in the waiting.


Reuters says most South African Muslims are moderate and pragmatic, and unlikely to hear the Al Qaeda message. They note the US government listing of the Docrats, but do not see this as definitive, quoting the Docrats on a 'witchhunt of Muslims' against them. This is one of the articles linked to by Muslims after the Daily Maverick story broke: Reuters |'Jury out on al Qaeda presence in South Africa' by Michael Georgy 2 February 2007. The issue with this analytial article, is it appears biased from the start, with the subtitle of:'The Docrat cousins were leading a seemingly normal life in South Africa -- one a cleric at a rural mosque, the other a dentist with a neighbourhood practice in the country's financial capital.' and continuing consistently holding a somewhat one sided view.


The Operation Kanu, launched shortly after the 9/11 attacks on New York city and elsewhere in the United States of America, was launched targetted two cousins, suspected of being Al Qaeda recruiters and funders. The United States of America claims these individuals are both recruiters and involved in funding the Terrorist organization which in Arabic means 'The Base', and has related claims involving the funding of Al Qaeda via the Pakistani Taliban. The Daily Maverick investigation took over a year, and was based on court records, views of those who neighboured these alleged camps, police sources, as well as Professor Hussein Solomon, who's claims of the risk of a 2010 attack by Al Qaeda, was seen as discrediting the article among the Muslim community. He is quoted twice, neither time as a source, but rather simply to give background an a professional or expert opinion. His notation of an Israeli request that South Africa get rid of Hezbolla (Arabic for 'The Party of God') training camps in the 1990s, is one of these, to give a history of the events and alleged Islamist Jihadi camps in South Africa. Muslim journalists, individuals, and groups, have seized on him to attempt to discredit the Daily Maverick piece, which in fact is based on many witnesses, but only refers to him passingly and to give context. To quote just some of the piece, prior the response of the Democratic Alliance and the Muslim community:

'The police’s specialised unit, Crimes Against the State (CATS) and the State Security Agency (SSA) have been monitoring the training of al-Qaeda terrorists in South Africa for several years, without taking any action. A year-long investigation by the Daily Maverick’s DE WET POTGIETER has revealed surprising inaction by police despite incriminating evidence about secret military training camps and sophisticated sniper training at three well-documented locations as well as several others across South Africa. These subversive activities have taken place at a farm near the notorious Apartheid police hit squad camp at Vlakplaas outside Pretoria, as well as a secluded farm in the mountains of the Klein Karoo.
All spying activities in connection with Operation Kanu were abruptly halted at the beginning of 2010 under yet-unexplained circumstances. The teams of intelligence operatives were recalled from the operation sites, all visual material seized and laptops with the surveillance data and situation reports of deep-cover agents taken away from them. The men were told by their superiors that the orders for the cessation of the surveillance operation had come “from the top”. No other explanations were given and they were re-deployed to other assignments.

In the wake of the cessation of Operation Kanu, British and US intelligence agencies began to pressurise the South African government to act against any possible Muslim terrorist threats emanating from within South Africa.

Top-level intelligence sources confirmed that representatives from both those countries’ intelligence services have been in the country for negotiations regarding the al-Qaeda operations here.

US and British intelligence have warned the South African authorities to stop “pussyfooting” with intelligence regarding international terrorists activities in South Africa. “The fact that no bombs have gone off to date in the country doesn’t mean that the threat doesn’t exist within South Africa’s borders,” they warned.

They have been frustrated for some years with the South African authorities for not taking action against perceived international terrorist threats.

South Africa is a signatory to the United Nations resolution against international terrorism and is thus obliged to act against any such threats.

Despite overwhelming intelligence information gathered well before the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa, no action had been taken to date.

The cause of the anxiety stems from the fact that thousands of illegal immigrants from Pakistan manage to cross into South Africa, while the government appears to turn a blind eye.'

- The Daily Maverick | 'Al-Qaeda: Alive and well in South Africa' by DE WET POTGIETER at 13 MAY 2013 12:44 (SOUTH AFRICA)

The Democratic Alliance has demanded an investigation into Al Qaeda (Arabic for 'The Base'), allegedly being given free reign to establish bases for training camps in South Africa.

The Muslim community has had a very different response, alleging fearmongering, with some interesting statements on social media, some of which may or may not be justified depending on viewpoint, some of which are somewhat deeply concerning, though truly, they seem to take the article by the Daily Maverick as an attack on them, although it does not malign Muslims, anywhere I may note:

Channel Islam International Tweets and Retweets:

And Tweets and retweets from prominent Muslim Journalist Hasina Gori:

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