Protest over labelling of locals as terrorists without evidence
A Muslim organisation claims that foreign intelligence agencies have planted spies within the South African Muslim community.
The claim surfaced yesterday when 15 major South African Muslim organisations held a press conference in Johannesburg to protest against the US labelling some local Muslims as terrorists.
This referred mainly to America's moves to put two South African cousins, Junaid and Farhad Dockrat, onto a UN terrorist blacklist that would freeze their financial assets and stop them travelling anywhere in the world.
It also referred to suggestions by US officials that more South Africans could be blacklisted.
SA used its seat on the UN Security Council last month to block the blacklisting of the Dockrats, demanding further proof of US claims that they were facilitators for al-Qaeda.
The 15 Muslim organisations, representing most of SA's Muslim community, yesterday called for concrete evidence to be produced before labelling people "terrorists".
And Muslim Youth Movement spokesperson Na'eem Jeenah accused foreign governments of planting spies among South African Muslims.
"The reality is that within the Muslim community there are people who are paid to do surveillance for various countries," Jeenah said.
Although South Africa successfully blocked, at least temporarily, the US effort to have universal UN sanctions imposed on the Dockrat cousins, America has slapped its own sanctions on them.
Last month, Washington froze all assets the cousins have under US jurisdiction and prohibited transactions between US persons and the Dockrats.
The US government claims Farhad supported al-Qaeda by providing funds to the Al Akhtar Trust, "a globally recognised al-Qaeda fundraiser".
Muslims of South Africa, a coalition of the majority of Muslim organisations in South Africa, also berated the imposition of travel restrictions on religious and community leaders, including the academic Adam Habib, who was refused entry into the US last year.
The group felt this discrimination against Muslims was increasingly the case.
"We condemn the Bush administration for listing some South Africans as 'terrorists' and for threatening to list more South Africans without due process, and without any consideration for the need to provide substantial and credible evidence," said Muslim Judicial Council chairperson Ihsaan Hendricks, reading from a statement prepared by the 15 Muslim organisations.
"We proclaim that, as believing Muslims, we are opposed to all acts of injustice and acts of indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians perpetrated either by individuals, organisations or states," added Hendricks.
The groups praised SA's handling of the Dockrat case and are in constant communication with the government at a number of levels. They have refused to meet US officials.
"The South African Muslim community has largely been immune. When something like this suddenly happens, there is a tendency to become paranoid and parochial," warned Jeenah.
A January 26 notice from the US Treasury Department explaining the US application to put the Dockrats on the UN blacklist said Farhad Dockrat allegedly gave the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan R430 000 for the Al Akhtar Trust, an Afghanistan fundraiser for al-Qaeda.
The Al Akhtar Trust is already on the UN blacklist and is under sanctions.
The US alleged that Junaid Dockrat worked with now-deceased al-Qaeda operations chief Hamza Rabi'a to co-ordinate the travel of South Africans to Pakistan for al-Qaeda training.
The US also claimed he had raised R840 000 that he channelled to Rabi'a in 2004.
Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils recently said post-1994 Southern Africa had been identified as a safe haven by al-Qaeda to facilitate the movement of its operatives and funds across borders.
This emerged after more than 20 arrests by the South African government, including three Jordanians with suspected links to al-Qaeda.
Kasrils emphasised that the number of terrorist suspects was small.
By Beauregard Tromp - Independent Foreign Service The Star