The Democratic Alliance party has called on Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to provide parliament with answers to allegations that al Qaeda training camps have been operating in South for more than a decade.
Yesterday the Daily Maverick reported that South Africa was home to an alleged al Qaeda operation and that this had been under investigation for nearly ten years but was halted in 2010 without explanation.
According to the Daily Maverick, shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, the South African Crimes Against the State (CATS) specialised unit of the South African Police Service and the State Security Agency began Operation Kanu to examine possible extremist Islamic terrorist activities in South Africa. The operation reportedly involved extensive surveillance of the South African Dockrat family and their associates and followed their movements for almost ten years.
In 2007 the South African government confirmed that Junaid and his cleric cousin Farhad Dockrat were put on a United Nations list of terror suspects because of alleged ties to al Qaeda. Papers submitted by the United States to the UN Security Council alleged Junaid was an al Qaeda financier, recruiter and facilitator who coordinated the travel of South Africans to Pakistan to train with the group. Both denied the allegations. Apart from a dental business, Junaid owned Sniper Africa, a camouflage clothing company.
The Daily Maverick report states that at least three training camps were monitored, outside Pretoria and in the Eastern Cape. Witnesses apparently saw people carrying weapons and conducting military-style training. However, the Daily Maverick alleges that police halted their surveillance operation in 2010 due to orders “from the top”.
“The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, and the Crime Intelligence unit of the South African Police Service (SAPS) must urgently brief Parliament on these serious allegations and inform us as to why there has been no action and who gave the order to stop the investigation,” said Dianne Kohler Barnard, the Democratic Alliance’s Shadow Minister of Police.
“I will therefore be writing to the acting Chairperson of the Police Portfolio Committee, Annelize van Wyk, to request that the acting Head of Crime Intelligence, Chris Ngcobo and Minister Mthethwa brief the committee on this situation as a matter of urgency,” she stated yesterday.
Government officials have long said that South Africa’s non-aligned status and a lack of substantial local support for militant groups should insulate it from terror attacks. Nigerian oil delta militants and Congolese coup plotters have been caught in South Africa but al Qaeda style terrorism has largely eluded the country.