Names of people, groups published in gazette
WANTED – 11 international terrorists who may consider South Africa their safe haven. The 11, including two terrorist organisations, have been labelled by the United Nations Security Council as being directly linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) of Iraq and Syria.
South African authorities have been instructed to be on the lookout for them.
This week, the Presidency published a proclamation in the government gazette listing the 11 people and groups, identified as financiers, recruiters and logistics supporters, from France, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.
As a UN member state, South Africa has to ensure that the 600 suspects on a global terror watch list, including these 11, are captured, banned from travelling and that their finances and weapons sources are stopped.
One of the 11 is Norwegian Anders Cameroon Ostensvig Dale, who has allegedly received training in the manufacture of bomb-belts, improvised explosives devices and car bombs.
Dale’s nationality means that he does not face many visa restrictions.
Another suspect is French-born Emilie Konig, a former activist of the Forsane Alizza organisation.
She was believed to be part of an al-Qaeda cell and fighting alongside her husband in Syria.
UN descriptions point to Konig as being a key disseminator of terrorist propaganda.
Questions to the police went unanswered yesterday, but defence analyst Darren Olivier of the African Defence Review said: “Even though it might not require us to send out troops, they are still considered an enemy of our state.”
The suspects were added to the UN’s terror list in September last year and have been identified as providing material support to and being recruiters for and financiers of IS and al-Qaeda.
Olivier said all UN member states were required to institute travel bans, freeze assets and funds, and institute arms embargoes against any person or organisation on the list.
South Africa has been used as a base for terror activities in the past.
Hussein Solomon, a senior professor at the University of Free State’s political studies department, said South Africa had played a key role in global terror networks since the 1990s. “Al-Qaeda has had a presence here since 1997. “By 1995, there were five Hezbollah camps in South Africa. The list of the who’s who of the terrorism zoo in South Africa goes on and on.”
Solomon said that in 1999 the FBI had arrested a man at Cape Town International Airport for the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
“The 2007 London bombers got their orders to launch their attack from a terror cell in Johannesburg.”
More recently, he said, during the 2010 Fifa World Cup an al-Shabaab terrorist attack against US and UK teams and supporters, to be launched from Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township by Somalis, was foiled.
“It was foiled after a cellphone call from South Africa was intercepted by US authorities monitoring al-Shabaab in Somalia.”
Solomon said when Osama bin Laden was killed, documents penned by him were found in his Abottabad compound authorising operations to be conducted in South Africa because it was an “open countr y”.
“The attack on Kenya’s Westgate Mall, organised by UK national Samantha Lewthwaite – the White Widow – who used a South African passport, has brought huge pressure on our government.”
But Solomon warned the real threat was closer to home.
“They [Boko Haram] are far closer to home and as deadly as IS.” Explaining why South Africa was a viable base for terror groups, Solomon said the country’s high corruption levels and ease at which passports and identity documents could be obtained were motivating factors.
“Terrorists are opportunistic at exploiting weaknesses,” he said.
“The move to make identity documents more secure doesn’t matter as long as you have a corrupt Home Affairs official in your pocket.”
He said the country’s intelligence agencies were focusing their resources on journalists and tender scandals instead of targeting terror groups.
Olivier said South Africa was used mainly as a base for fundraising and logistics, made easier by the established financial systems and links to the developing world.