The murderous Islamic State (Isis) is active in South Africa and has been recruiting citizens to fight in Iraq and Syria. An official count of South Africans involved in terrorist activity was 140 by November 2015. Specialized crime fighting unit The Hawks have confirmed that four people aged between 20 and 24-years-old have been arrested for alleged terrorism related activities in Azaadville and Newclare.
The Hawks swooped on the suburbs yesterday seizing several items for analysis including computers and other equipment.
The Foreign Military Assistance Act, 1998 (Act No 15 1998) prohibits South African citizens from participating in the armed forces of foreign states, rendering foreign military assistance and taking part in armed groups. The Syrian Embassy can confirm there were groups operating in the country recruiting for and raising funds for Isis under the guise of humanitarian aid.
The terror cell used its strong media resources to lure young men from various countries to join them. It’s understood the suspects were identified after planning to fly to Syria last year.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi says the arrests follows an investigation into terrorist activities in the country.
“We have four people that have been arrested. It follows an investigation that kick-started in 2015 where we believe there are people who are actually engaging themselves in alleged terrorism activities, something that we believe to be done due to the fact the we felt this is a serious threat to our country and the people that lives in it.”
Mulaudzi says they believe the suspects may be involved in other terrorism related activities
“We are of the view that these four they know each other very well. But at the same time we will also be trying to see if we cannot link them to any other terrorism groups within our country.”
Mulaudzi says two of the suspects are expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court while the other two will appear in the Kagiso Magistrates Court facing charges of terrorism related activities as well as possession of ammunition and explosives.
The UN Security Council recently adopted a resolution that member countries must take harsh action against citizens helping such groups. In South Africa we have laws that deal with this, and any citizens who are found to be in contravention of the laws will be dealt with.