By De Wet Potgieter - Daily Maverick
The police’s specialised unit, Crimes Against the State (CATS) and the State Security Agency (SSA) have been monitoring the training of al-Qaeda terrorists in South Africa for several years, without taking any action.
A year-long investigation by the Daily Maverick’s De Wet Potgieter has revealed surprising inaction by police despite incriminating evidence about secret military training camps and sophisticated sniper training at three well-documented locations as well as several others across South Africa. These subversive activities have taken place at a farm near the notorious Apartheid police hit squad camp at Vlakplaas outside Pretoria, as well as a secluded farm in the mountains of the Klein Karoo.
The SAPS top-secret, deep-cover operation – Operation Kanu – was driven by crime intelligence, and was launched shortly after the 9-11 World Trade Center terror attacks to investigate extremist Muslim activities in the country. Operation Kanu began at the same time as the parallel investigation into far right-wing activities called Operation Waco.
Operation Waco resulted in the marathon Boeremag trial. The right-wingers were dubbed Al-Cadac by a police wit, as the Afrikaners’ plot was often discussed over a braai. Yet Operation Kanu resulted in no action from intelligence agencies, and no arrests of the alleged trainees or the masterminds.
All spying activities in connection with Operation Kanu were abruptly halted at the beginning of 2010 under yet-unexplained circumstances. The teams of intelligence operatives were recalled from the operation sites, all visual material seized and laptops with the surveillance data and situation reports of deep-cover agents taken away from them. The men were told by their superiors that the orders for the cessation of the surveillance operation had come “from the top”. No other explanations were given and they were re-deployed to other assignments.
In the wake of the cessation of Operation Kanu, British and US intelligence agencies began to pressurise the South African government to act against any possible Muslim terrorist threats emanating from within South Africa.
Top-level intelligence sources confirmed that representatives from both those countries’ intelligence services have been in the country for negotiations regarding the al-Qaeda operations here.
US and British intelligence have warned the South African authorities to stop “pussyfooting” with intelligence regarding international terrorists activities in South Africa. “The fact that no bombs have gone off to date in the country doesn’t mean that the threat doesn’t exist within South Africa’s borders,” they warned.
They have been frustrated for some years with the South African authorities for not taking action against perceived international terrorist threats.
South Africa is a signatory to the United Nations resolution against international terrorism and is thus obliged to act against any such threats.
Despite overwhelming intelligence information gathered well before the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa, no action had been taken to date.
The cause of the anxiety stems from the fact that thousands of illegal immigrants from Pakistan manage to cross into South Africa, while the government appears to turn a blind eye.
Says Professor Hussein Solomon from UFS in Researching Terrorism in South Africa: More Questions than Answers:
“Pretoria’s ambiguous response to terrorism also extends into the international sphere. In October 2006, during his meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former president Thabo Mbeki spoke of the need for international co-operation in the area of counter-terrorism. When such co-operation, however, is needed from the South Africans, they baulk. In January 2007, when South Africa was informed that the US intended to place two South Africans – the Dockrat cousins – on the UN Security Council’s list of terror suspects, South Africa was vehemently opposed to this. Needless to say, relations between Washington and Pretoria soured. These incidents raise the question of whether South Africa is prepared to walk the talk in the global fight against terrorism or not. Put differently, is South Africa a credible partner in the fight against terrorism?”
THE SOUTH AFRICAN CONNECTION
At the centre of this alleged terrorist network are several members of the well-known and influential Dockrat family.
The family was catapulted into the world focus in 2007 when US terrorism financing trackers have noted suspicious financial transactions coming out of South Africa that appeared to benefit al-Qaeda.
Some of these transactions predate 9/11. The money trail led them to a Johannesburg dentist, Junaid Ismail Dockrat, and his cousin, Farhad Ahmed Dockrat, a Muslim cleric. Farhad, the older of the two cousins, was a leading cleric at the Darus Salaam Muslim Centre in former Indian township of Laudium outside Pretoria. This mosque is said to be popular among Pakistani and Malawian Muslims...
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