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Sat Oct 01 05:15:01 SAST 2016

Al-Qaeda at the gates

Graeme Hosken | 20 February, 2015 00:22
WANTED: Anders Cameroon Ostensvig Dale
Image by: INTERPOL

South Africa has been told to be on the lookout for 11 international terrorists who might consider using the country as an operational base.

The United Nations Security Council says the 11 and two terror-based organisations are directly linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

This week the Presidency published a proclamation in the Government Gazette listing the 11 wanted men and women who have been identified as financiers, recruiters and logistical supporters of the terror groups. They are from France, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.

As a UN member state, South Africa has to ensure that the 600 suspects currently on a global terror watch list, including these 11, are captured and banned from travelling and that their finances and weapons sources are stopped.

One of the 11 is Norwegian Anders Cameroon Ostensvig Dale, who has allegedly received training in the manufacture of bomb belts, improvised explosive devices and car bombs. Dale's nationality means that he does not face many visa restrictions.

Another suspect is French-born Emilie Konig, a former activist of the fundamentalist Forsane Alizza organisation. She is believed to be part of an al-Qaeda cell, a key disseminator of terrorist propaganda and fighting alongside her husband in Syria.

Questions to the South African police went unanswered yesterday, but defence analyst Darren Olivier, of the African Defence Review, said the 11 were enemies of the state.

"Even though it might not require us to send out troops, they are still considered an enemy of our state."

The suspects were added to the UN terror list in September and have been fingered as providing material support, finance and members for IS and al-Qaeda.

South Africa has been used as a base for terror activities in the past.

Hussein Solomon, a senior politics professor at the University of the Free State, said that South Africa had been used by global terror networks since the 1990s.

"Al-Qaeda has had a presence here since 1997. By 1995 there were five Hezbollah camps in South Africa. The list of the who's who of the terrorism zoo in South Africa goes on and on."

Solomon said that in 1999 the FBI arrested a man at Cape Town International Airport for the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

"The 2007 London bombers got their orders to launch their attack from a terror cell in Johannesburg," he said.

During the 2010 soccer World Cup, an al-Shabab terrorist attack against US and UK teams and supporters, to have been launched from Cape Town's Khayelitsha township by Somalis, was foiled.

"It was foiled after a cellphone call from South Africa was intercepted by US authorities monitoring al-Shabab in Somalia."

Solomon said when Osama bin Laden was killed documents were found in his Pakistani compound in which he authorised operations to be conducted in South Africa because it's an "open country".

"The attack on Kenya's Westgate Mall, organised by UK national Samantha Lewthwaite, who used a South African passport, has put huge pressure on our government."

But Solomon warned the real threat was closer to home: "[Boko Haram] are far closer to home and as deadly as IS."

Olivier said the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act required President Jacob Zuma to give notice of additions to the UN list of terrorists.

Explaining why South Africa was a viable base for terror groups, Solomon cited the high levels of corruption and the ease with which passports and identity documents could be obtained.

"Terrorists are opportunistic, exploiting weaknesses. The move to make identity documents more secure doesn't matter as long as you have a corrupt home affairs official in your pocket.''

In addition, Solomon said, the country's intelligence agencies were focusing their resources on journalists and tender scandals instead of targeting terror groups.

Olivier said South Africa was used mainly as a base for fundraising and logistics, "made easier by our established financial systems and links to the developing world".

South Africa has been warned about these groups associated with al-Qaeda:

  • The Abdallah Azzam Brigades: From Lebanon, Syria and the Arabian Peninsula, and linked to the al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant; and
  • The Tunisian Ansar al-Shari'a

The terror hit list

1.Ahmed Abdullah Saleh al-Khazmari al-Zahrani:

  • Senior member of al-Qaeda
  • Wanted by Saudi Arabia for terrorism;

2.Azzam Abdullah Zureik al-Maulid al-Subhi:

  • Boasts of ties to numerous senior al-Qaeda leaders
  • Wanted by Saudi Arabia for terrorism;

3.AndersDaleCameroon Ostensvig:

  • Member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula;

4.Ibrahim Suleiman Hamad al-Hablain:

  • Bomb-maker and Abdallah Azzam Brigades operative
  • Wanted by Saudi Arabia for terrorism;

5.Maysar Ali Musa Abdallah al-Juburi:

  • Doctor and fundraiser for al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant;

6.Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Mustafa Alqaduli:

  • Senior IS member and senior al-Qaeda Pakistan member;

7.Emilie Konig:

  • French terrorist fighter who travelled to Syria to join Isis
  • Propagator of al-Qaeda ideology over the internet;

8.Kevin Guiavarch:

  • Joined al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant
  • Facilitator in getting foreign terrorist fighters from France to Syria;

9. Oumar Diaby:

  • Linked to al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant
  • Key facilitator for a network of foreign terrorist in Syria;

10.Iyad Ag Ghali:

  • Founder of Ansar Eddine, in Mali;

11.Shafi Sultan Mohammed al-Ajmi:

  • Al-Nusrah Front fundraiser.

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