Al Qaeda in South Africa?

Whether AQ is active in South Africa, remains rumours for us outside the intel fraternity. But I tend to re-examine my initial scepticism when it is reported that the US Embassy and other government buildings in SA have been evacuated for the second time in less than a month. The Weekend Argus reported that the US government had closed its embassy in Pretoria and all other US government facilities for two days last month because intelligence agencies had intercepted a call from Khayelitsha to the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab extremist group in Somalia, discussing a plot to blow up American interests in SA.

A scholar, Hussein Solomon (although he has been a bit discredited previously) made serious accusations about the readiness of the intel community in SA to counter any AQ activities. Says Solomon: " he had been trying to warn authorities for some time about the threat of terrorist action during the World Cup. He said international policing agency Interpol had already warned of such a threat but the South African intelligence services did not seem to be listening."Our intelligence services are extremely politicised," Solomon said, adding that they would rather spy on investigative journalists to discover their sources than spy on potential terrorists." Read more.

And the government's reaction here. The restructuring in the intel community might further impact on our readiness to counter the possibility of such attacks. Two issues that needs to be investigated is the credibility of sources, but also the trend of Somali expats (eg from the US) that are involved in terrorism which might be emerging in SA as well.