Suspected South African IS recruits face court
The anti-terror raids took place in the Newclare and Azaadville areas of Johannesburg. The four suspected IS recruits, aged between 20 and 24, were to be arraigned on terrorism charges.
These terrorist organisations are recruiting in our country
Hawks head, Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza said South Africa cannot sit on its laurels, as it faced security threats.
The arrests follow protracted investigations by the Hawks and the State Security into possible terror related activities in the Johannesburg area, Hawks spokesman, Hangwani Mulaudzi said.
The four suspects were nabbed after they attempted to travel to Syria in 2015. They were refused passage by an international airline to travel after their intentions were revealed.
The national intervention unit, the bomb squad and other law enforcement agencies aided in the arrests.
“It is clear that the arrest of the four is a very big step forward in the fight against terrorism. But we cannot say that the problem has been solved. These terrorist organisations are recruiting in our country and, as law enforcement agencies, will continue to work around the clock to prevent any form of recruitment on our soil,” Ntlemeza said.
According to media reports, the Hawks also refused to confirm whether the suspects were planning attacks, only saying more details would be revealed during the court process.
“They were arrested for terrorist activity, so most of the information will only come when their bail application is made,” Mulaudzi said.
“As the investigation continues, if we find out that there are other people connected, those will be arrested, but for now, these are the only four we have been looking at.”
Hangwani said two of the suspects will appear at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday facing terrorist related charges, while the remaining suspects would appear at Kagiso Magistrate’s Court on firearms and explosives related charges.
In June, some of the country’s most popular shopping malls in Cape Town and Johannesburg increased their security measures after the US, UK and the Australian governments issued warnings of a heightened threat of attacks against foreigners in public places.
The South African government dismissed the alerts and said, while it was aware of the security alerts, there was no immediate danger.