Police gunning for Bazooka in international terror probe

09 March 2018 - 06:00 By Jeff Wicks
Horticulturalist and BBC presenter Nick Bailey posted this selfie with British couple Rod and Rachel Saunders on February 8. The couple have since gone missing in a case linked to terror group Isis.
Horticulturalist and BBC presenter Nick Bailey posted this selfie with British couple Rod and Rachel Saunders on February 8. The couple have since gone missing in a case linked to terror group Isis.
Image: Nick Bailey via Twitter

Anti-terror agents and Hawks operatives seized with the probe into ISIS acolytes who allegedly masterminded the abduction of South African-Britons Rod and Rachel Saunders have thrown out a wide dragnet for a fourth suspect with the ominous moniker “Bazooka”.     

The only trace of Ahmad Jackson Mussa‚ or Bazooka‚ was a passport found during a police raid on the home of Sayfydeen Aslam Del Vecchio‚ 38‚ and Fatima Patel‚ 27 - set on a hilltop near Mthunzini in northern KwaZulu-Natal. 

The husband and wife pair‚ accused of fostering close ties with ISIS‚ remain at the centre of the international terror probe.

They‚ along with their 19-year-old neighbour‚ Themba Xulu‚ were arrested when police received “intelligence” that the Saunders’ had gone missing while on a tour of the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

The elderly botanists‚ from Cape Town‚ remain missing.

Startling allegations that the missing couple may have been stalked as a “good hunt” by Del Vecchio and Patel‚ to strike fear into the hearts of those opposed to the caliphate‚ were placed before the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

An affidavit deposed by the investigating officer‚ which was submitted to the court on Tuesday‚ plotted out what may have been the Saunders’ final days and gave grave insight into what might have befallen them.

According to the statement‚ police mined evidence of communication between Del Vecchio‚ Patel and a third man‚ “Bazooka”.

The communications stretched over six days after the Saunders' were last heard from.

“On February 9 there are discussions of preparing to kill the kuffar [non-believer] and abduct their allies‚ to destroy infrastructure and to put fear in to the heart of the kuffar.

“On February 10‚ Del Vecchio had mentioned to Patel and Bazooka that there is an elderly couple in the forest‚ that it is a ‘good hunt’ and that they had equipment‚” the papers read.

In an unrelated discussion on the same day‚ the officer alleges that Del Vecchio had given “guidance” that the victims of caliphate fighters should be made to disappear.

“When the brothers in Kenya go out and do this work it is very important that the body of the victim is never found and that it remains a missing person case‚” the statement continues.

The papers before court detail that Mussa’s passport was found in one of the rooms in Del Vecchio’s house.

“A preliminary analysis of digital devices found in Del Vecchio’s possession indicates Bazooka’s involvement in the commission of the crimes. Bazooka is still being sought for questioning by the police."

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