SA plays down terror threat
The US yesterday warned its citizens of possible attacks by Islamist militants on US facilities or shopping malls in South Africa during the upcoming month of Ramadan, but the South African government said the country was safe.
It was the second such warning in less than a year from the embassy, which issued a similar alert in September. South Africa has a significant American expatriate and tourist population, but has seldom been associated with Islamist militancy.
The US embassy said up-market shopping areas, and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town, were the main target areas in the suspected planned attacks.
“This information comes against the backdrop of the Islamic State’s public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan,” it said in a statement posted on its website.
Last month, a new message purporting to come from the spokesperson of Islamic State called on followers to launch attacks on the West during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins this week.
The department of international relations and cooperation said the country’s security agencies were capable of ensuring the safety of its residents. It noted that no incidents or attacks had taken place after the warning from the US embassy last year.
“The State Security Agency and other security agencies in this country are very much capable of keeping South Africans and everybody in this country, including Americans, safe,” international relations and cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said. “The last time they did this, towards the end of last year, nothing came out of that advisory,” he said. South African police were not available for comment. Following a similar warning in 2009, the US closed its embassy and consulates in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town for several days. Yesterday, the embassy said it would remain open. “This will not affect operations at the US embassy in Pretoria or at our consulates in Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban,” US embassy spokesperson Cynthia Harvey said. “We are cooperating with local authorities, as we do in any investigation into terrorist threats around the world,” she said.
UNTROUBLED International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela