‘100 re­turnees’ from Isis camps

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - METRO - KARINDA JAGMOHAN

ABOUT 80 to 100 South Africans who have been at Is­lamic State camps abroad have re­turned home.

This is ac­cord­ing to Na’eem Jeenah, di­rec­tor of the Afro-Mid­dle East Cen­tre (Amec), a think tank which fo­cuses on re­search across North Africa and the Mid­dle East on se­cu­rity and ter­ror­ism.

The cen­tre hosted a sem­i­nar on Wed­nes­day in Dur­ban, on South Africa’s con­nec­tion to Isis.

“We have had a num­ber of re­turnees, about 80 to a 100, es­pe­cially fam­ily mem­bers. They are al­most def­i­nitely un­der sur­veil­lance. Upon their re­turn they were in­ter­viewed by the State Se­cu­rity Agency (SSA) be­fore be­ing re­leased and the gov­ern­ment has been in­volved in en­sur­ing their proper repa­tri­a­tion,” said Jeenah.

The SSA could not dis­close spe­cific in­for­ma­tion about op­er­a­tional mat­ters. Spokesper­son Le­bo­hang Mafokosi said it mon­i­tored all po­ten­tial threats and their im­pact on the state.

Jeenah added that South Africa was not an Isis tar­get. He said the ob­jec­tive of Isis was to take and hold ter­ri­tory, and to at­tack the “near en­emy”, such as Iraq and Syria, which would in­di­rectly be an at­tack on the “far en­emy”, such as the US.

“At­tacks on West­ern tar­gets come when those coun­tries de­clare mil­i­tary war against Isis. South Africa has not de­clared it­self at war with Isis,” he said.

Jeenah said peo­ple were us­ing re­cent in­ci­dents to cre­ate hys­te­ria.

“This is be­ing done by those who want to con­vince the pub­lic that Isis is tar­get­ing South Africa in or­der for an agenda to get gov­ern­ment to act in a par­tic­u­lar way and cre­ate cer­tain part­ner­ships.” He was re­fer­ring to re­cent in­ci­dents in Dur­ban where in­cen­di­ary de­vices were planted across the city and at the Imam Hus­sein Mosque in Veru­lam which saw an at­tack ear­lier in the year.

Mean­while, Farhad Hoomer and 10 oth­ers ac­cused of ter­ror­ism-re­lated charges at the Veru­lam Mag­is­trate’s Court were re­leased on bail this week.

Chair­per­son of the Imam Hus­sein Mosque, Azad Seed, said they were dis­ap­pointed that the ac­cused had been granted bail. He said the at­tack on the mosque was a hate crime.

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