Friday, May 21, 2010

SA Passport Chaos and the World Cup Terror Threat

Why do I have this eerie feeling in my guts that something really bad is going to happen during the 2010 Soccer World Cup? After reading Peter Bergen’s book ‘Holy War INC’ twice, and following news reports concerning possible terror threats, I have to side with the opinions of Professor Hussein Solomon in this regard. Professor Solomon, who is the head of the International Institute for Islamic Studies at the University of Pretoria, remains adamant in his beliefs that al-Qaeda has every intention of targeting the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

It’s no secret that poor administration and corruption in the South African Department of Home Affairs has resulted in thousands of fraudulent passports. According to the US state department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2008, this chaotic situation has affected South Africa's ability and efforts to counter terrorism. Professor Solomon’s latest observations and comments regarding this passport chaos and how it correlates with a possible terrorist threat, therefore makes a lot of sense, as I cannot see how the South African authorities could possibly have rectified the situation in the past two years.

I do realize that I’m no expert on terrorism, and that what we sometimes read in the news cannot always be taken too seriously, and that for security reasons certain news never gets published at all! Nevertheless, I will most definitely be following my gut feeling, and will be staying well clear of any World Cup Soccer events, because where there’s smoke there’s bound to be a fire!

Mark Schroeder, a sub-Saharan Africa expert for a private intelligence company, does not agree with Professor Solomon’s bleak outlook. He believes that an attack on the Soccer World Cup will hurt the terrorists more than it could benefit them. Mark Schroeder does not clarify on what basis (or evidence) he made this statement, but after racking my brain a little I can only presume that he was implying that IF the terrorists do commit a massacre during the Soccer World Cup, the US military will immediately retaliate so vigorously that the terrorists will forever regret their actions. BUT, there’s a little voice in my head telling me that my assumption may be totally wrong, because the US military doesn’t care two hoots about what goes on in Africa, especially if the welfare and safety of their interests are not at risk. Also, any counterattack after a terrorist incident on South African soil, will forever place South Africa in the sights of global terrorists who are seeking revenge, which is not a pleasant outlook for a country which is already straining under pressure of internal chaos, bordering on anarchy.

I think it is safe to presume that no amount of rumours related to a possible World Cup terror threat will sway soccer fans from attending the events, because the overwhelming majority of soccer fans do not follow news of this sort. The mind of a fanatic does not work the same as the typical balanced and sober mind. Most Africans, particularly the soccer fanatics, don’t care about subjects that have no bearing on the sport they worship. With this said, I do not feel guilty for revealing what my gut feelings are:

My gut feeling is that an al-Qaeda-backed terror attack will most likely come from within our borders. The terrorists are already here, strategically placed and patiently waiting to make their move. An attack will not be launched from the air, but on the ground. Tight security at airports and high-tech military surveillance in airspace will obstruct any plans to launch an attack from these points. The most likely carrier of explosives will be a ground vehicle driven by some fanatic that doesn’t mind being blown up to Kingdom Come! The target of the attack will not necessarily be a soccer stadium, but any location where high-profile US personnel, and/or where a large congregation of people, such as Christians (Europeans), or moderate Muslims are gathered.

I’m including the latest news report regarding this issue in this posting, so that readers can decide for themselves whether my gut feeling is justified, or not:

Terror threat to World Cup’

By Paul Kirk

JOHANNESBURG - Terror in the stadiums. It’s any country’s worst nightmare and an expert on Islamic extremism, Professor Hussein Solomon, this week told The Citizen he believes al-Qaeda has every intention of targeting the Fifa World Cup.

Solomon said that, contrary to some opinions, he was convinced al-Qaeda intended attacking the country where crooked officials have, for years, allowed access to false passports and identity documents with which to carry out terror schemes.

But Mark Schroeder, sub-Saharan Africa expert for private intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, believes otherwise.

Schroeder said: “Any attack will hurt them more than it could benefit them.”

But Solomon, the head of the International Institute for Islamic Studies at the University of Pretoria, said he did not agree with assessments that al-Qaeda would ignore the tournament because South Africa was too valuable as a logistics hub.

“We have a terrible rot in our department of home affairs which, in many ways, is the root of all evil.

“South African passports and documents routinely turn up in the hands of criminals as well as Islamic terror cells.

“After the London bombings several years ago, vast numbers of South African passports were recovered by British police. The department of home affairs has been very heavily infiltrated,” he said.

In early 2008, a series of raids by the British police saw dozens of men arrested as part of an organised human trafficking scheme.

The suspects were jailed after the British courts found they had obtained false South African passports for Indian and Pakistani citizens who wanted to enter the UK illegally.

After the July 7 2005 London bus bombings, dozens of South African passports were found by police investigating the attacks.

Solomon said it was no secret that unscrupulous characters had been obtaining South African documents for years.

“Haroon Aswat, the mastermind of the London bus bombings and a former bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, lived in South Africa for years and travelled to the UK two weeks before those bombings.

“It is fair to presume he may have been the source of the fake South African passports.

“It is also fair to presume he planned the attacks from Gauteng. He was by far the most senior al-Qaeda operative linked to the London bombings.

“Our government has shown it is either too incompetent or too sympathetic to these people to do anything about them by cleaning up home affairs.”

Solomon said South African passports also landed up in the hands of international criminals.

“They are so easy to obtain that even (actor) Wesley Snipes apparently bought himself a South African passport off a crooked home affairs official.”

Snipes explained to British media that he had obtained the fake passport so he could “keep a low profile” while filming in South Africa.

Solomon said the widespread use of South African passports had led many experts to believe that al-Qaeda would not risk losing such a fantastic resource. However, he believed that this was not the case.

“This argument presumes that al-Qaeda is a homogenous entity with a central command – which it is not.

“Al-Qaeda has already made its intentions clear. A few weeks ago, a Jamaican- born cleric was deported from Botswana after that country caught him red- handed attempting to recruit suicide bombers to target the World Cup.

“Al-Qaeda has had much of its top leadership killed or jailed. For many years, they have not been able to pull off any sort of terror ‘spectacular’ and this World Cup presents the perfect opportunity for them.”

Solomon continued: “Al- Qaeda have had years to plan an operation and plant their people here...

“They will have millions of people watching televisions and they will have no limit of targets.”

He warned: “Al-Qaeda needs to launch a terror spectacular soon if they are to remain relevant as a terror organisation and the World Cup will give them their best opportunity in years.”

But Schroeder also pointed out that South African intelligence services had only recently been “waking up” to the real threats posed by the offshoots of al-Qaeda.

Schroeder claimed that, prior to threats being made against the US embassy in South Africa last year, the South African Secret Service and National Intelligence Agency had very little or no idea of what al-Qaeda and its affiliate al-Shabaab was up to in Somalia.

Schroeder said that al- Shabaab – who have threatened to “blow up the World Cup” – was active and well established in the Cape Flats.

It was also using the Somali diaspora across Africa to raise funds for terror activities.

All the same, Schroeder said he was adamant that crime, and not al-Qaeda terrorism, should be the major concern for tourists and the South African security services.

National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele told Parliament last week that the police had investigated the al-Shabaab threat and decided it was not credible.

Cele insisted that South Africa was more than prepared for any terror threat.


Related External Links:

No terror threat at World Cup: Fifa
JOHANNESBURG - No terror threats against the World Cup have been uncovered by any of the intelligence agencies working with FIFA, despite claims of a plot by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the football governing body said Thursday.

Police in the dark over terror plots
JOHANNESBURG - Al-Qaeda planned to target Soccer City using car bombs laced with rat poison to make victims bleed to death more quickly and armed terrorists with machine guns to mow down anyone who attempted to help the injured.

Related posts on this blog:

Another World Cup Terror Plot Exposed!

Predictions for 2010

Our Dishonest Misleading Media

2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and the Terrorist Threat

Human Slavery, Prostitution, and 2010

A Country seized by FIFA

South African passport control chaos


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