By Yazeed Kamaldien, April 18 2015, Weekend Argus (South Africa)
Cape Town – African-based terror groups Boko Haram and al-Shabaab’s threats to attack South Africans in retaliation for xenophobic violence should not be taken lightly.
That was the warning sounded on Friday by local Islamic authority Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks, president of the Cape Town-based Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), who said at its Crawford headquarters that “we should not be naive”. Al-Shabaab has appeared on social media websites in images with the words “We will enter Durban” and “For all the foreign lives lost in SA there is a price to pay”.
A number of Nigerian media outlets reported late this week that Boko Haram “gives South Africa 24 hours to end xenophobic attacks, or face bombing”. Nigerian Watch reported that South Africa’s “ongoing xenophobic attacks against African migrants could take an ugly turn for the worse”. It said its local “Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram” had warned the South African government it could “face the consequences”.
“In a brief YouTube video message, the murderous terrorist sect, responsible for about 13 000 deaths in Nigeria since 2009, threatened to export its terror to South Africa,” it reported. “Boko Haram warned that if the South African government does not contain the situation, it will execute all South Africans living in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and other surrounding countries. “It also threatened to attack South African embassies in those countries.”
Nigerian media have also reported that the Nigerian Youths Congress (NYC) would attack South Africans in Nigeria if xenophobic violence continued against African nationals. Leadership newspaper reported NYC president Comrade Yakubu Shendam as saying that South African “citizens are scattered around Nigeria excelling in various businesses, and are being protected by the government”. “In telecommunications alone, what South Africans make from Nigeria is unimaginable.
“If the Nigerian government and people can provide an enabling environment for South Africans to thrive in, while, in turn, her citizens are being maimed and killed for being foreigners, Nigerian youths may be compelled to mete out similar treatment to South Africans operating in the country,” said Shendam. Hendricks responded: “We don’t take this as a joke. This is highly politically sensitive. We cannot ignore this.” He said the “climate in South Africa is conducive to these attacks”.
“We know South Africa is opportune for this attempt. The signs are there,” he warned. The MJC has been tracking the work of Islamic terror groups, most recently focusing on Islamic State (IS) activity after a 15-year-old girl from Kenwyn was caught en route to join the group. It is currently on a drive to ensure that local Muslim youths steer clear of recruitment by the IS.
Asked to comment on Friday, national State Security spokesman Brian Dube said the government was “aware of the social media reports attributed to those (terror) organisations”. But he downplayed their importance. Braam Hanekom, a founder of People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty, said they planned to march to the provincial legislature on Wednesday. “We will lead a march in solidarity with African immigrants in South Africa.”
“There are a lot of other reports circulating which purport to create a sense of fear within communities,” said Dube. “Our initial assessment is that these require further verification, but we wish to caution our communities about consuming and circulating dubious information.”