ISIS EYES SOUTH AFRICA

Compiled Security Report (BDLIVE, NEWS24)

THE whole world, including SA, is at risk of terrorist attacks, a senior researcher from the Institute for Security Studies said on Monday.

“The Islamic State declaring its intention to attack western interests in any part of the world makes any country, including SA … vulnerable,” Martin Ewi told News24.

There are a number of western interests in SA and in Africa as a whole.

“There could be an attack (in SA) because we harbour elements that are incompatible with these Islamic groups.”

However the country had good policies that minimised the threat and made sure SA did not infuriate Muslims or isolate the Muslim community, Mr Ewi said.

He said security measures would help deter an attack.

“If security measures are not effective (terrorists) can take advantage.”

Security wasn’t the only factor, however. He warned that a country could also be at risk if a neighbouring state was not secure.

State security spokesman Brian Dube could not be reached for comment on SA’s readiness for a potential attack.

Plan of attack

Mr Ewi compared terrorism to crime. People could put up electric fences, high walls and alarms but this did not stop criminals.

“The same with terrorism. We won’t be able to completely deter it.”

A terrorist attack does not happen overnight and a lot of time and planning goes into them.

“Terrorists have all the time on their hands. You will never know that you are going to be attacked the next day. No one in France knew terrorists were going to attack on Friday night.”

Mr Ewi said he wanted to believe that SA’s state security was doing everything possible to protect the country and its citizens.

He referred to a warning issued by the US in September.

At the time the US embassy said its Diplomatic Mission to SA had received information that extremists may be targeting its interests in the country “to possibly include US government facilities and other facilities identifiable with US business interests”.

“Things will only get exposed if for some reason we face an attack in this country,” said Mr Ewi.

“So far we can say they (state security) are doing a good job. We had numerous warnings… and nothing has happened.”

THE United States government has alerted US citizens in South Africa to the danger of possible terror attacks at upscale shopping areas and malls.

“The US Diplomatic Mission to South Africa informs US citizens that the US government has received information that terrorist groups are planning to carry out near-term attacks against places where US citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town,” the US embassy said in a statement on its website on Saturday.

“This information comes against the backdrop of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan.”

This is the second warning against terror attacks on South African soil in less than a year. In September last year the US government warned its citizens of possible terror attacks against US facilities and business interests in SA.

Washington said at the time that it had received “specific, credible, non-counterable” threat information, prompting the embassy in SA to issue a “security and emergency message” to its citizens and businesses in SA.

Evidence of Islamist terrorist groups using SA as a safe haven has been around for the past decade. Since 2003, there have been cases involving al-Qaeda members using South African passports, and terrorism-related arrests of its members who had spent time in the country.

In November last year, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies warned that the whole world, including SA, was at risk of terrorist attacks.

“The Islamic State declaring its intention to attack western interests in any part of the world makes any country, including SA … vulnerable,” Martin Ewi told News24 at the time.

There are a number of western interests in SA and in Africa as a whole.

“There could be an attack (in SA) because we harbour elements that are incompatible with these Islamic groups.”

However, the country had good policies that minimised the threat and made sure SA did not infuriate Muslims or isolate the Muslim community, Ewi said.

He said security measures would help deter an attack.

“If security measures are not effective (terrorists) can take advantage.”

Security wasn’t the only factor, however. He warned that a country could also be at risk if a neighbouring state was not secure.

 

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