‘You go to Syria only to fight or help’

The quiet sub­urb rocked by ter­ror scan­dal

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

Africa’s crime and in­tel­li­gence ser­vices to tread care­fully with the cases against the ac­cused.

“You ar­rest a cou­ple of young Mus­lims on ter­ror charges and it’s bull****, and there’s noth­ing there. All that will do is rad­i­calise young Mus­lims and of­fend the en­tire com­mu­nity.”

Jonathan Wood, direc­tor of global is­sues at Con­trol Risks, a global risk and strate­gic con­sult­ing firm, said there was no co­her­ent pro­file of a po­ten­tial re­cruit or rad­i­cal be­yond the like­li­hood it would be a male aged 18 to 25.

“Re­cent events, such as the ter­ror­ist at­tack in Bangladesh, il­lus­trate how wealthy, well- ed­u­cated and well- in­te­grated in­di­vid­u­als are by no means im­mune to re­cruit­ment by ex­trem­ist groups.

Hav­ing said that, re­cruit­ment ef­forts do of­ten look to ex­ploit mi­nor­ity griev­ances within com­mu­ni­ties which they feel are more amenable to rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion,” he said.

Ex­trem­ist groups, Wood said, used three main chan­nels of re­cruit­ment – “per­sonal con­tact with rad­i­calised in­di­vid­u­als, typ­i­cally within the fam­ily or com­mu­nity; ef­forts by for­eign fighter bri­gades to reach out to their net­works and pro­duce lo­cal-lan­guage pro­pa­ganda within their coun­tries of ori­gin and di­as­pora com­mu­ni­ties; and, the most vis­i­ble to out­siders, wide- reach­ing on­line pro­pa­ganda cam­paigns”.

“All are aimed at guid­ing in­di­vid­u­als to­wards ex­trem­ist ide­ol­ogy and sub­se­quently vi­o­lent ac­tion, whether by means of trav­el­ling to a con­flict zone or by con­duct­ing an at­tack at home,” he said.

Barn­aby Fletcher, an­other an­a­lyst at Con­trol Risks, said while South Africa could be vul­ner­a­ble to a ter­ror at­tack, there was not sig­nif­i­cant in­tent from groups like the IS to launch large-scale at­tacks here.

But South Africa was vul­ner­a­ble. “The ca­pa­bil­i­ties of South Africa’s se­cu­rity agen­cies are lim­ited, ex­trem­ist groups are present and it is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for any coun­try to fully mit­i­gate the threat of lone wolf at­tacks.”

Martin Ewi, a se­nior re­searcher with the In­sti­tute of Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, said there hadn’t been enough em­pir­i­cal re­search done on home­grown ter­ror­ism for ex­perts to pin­point ar­eas vul­ner­a­ble to re­cruiters.

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