Come see for yourselves, ISIS 'letter' tells SA scholars

2015-05-20 13:35

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Johannesburg - A letter addressed to local Muslim scholars, purportedly from South Africans who have joined the Islamic State (IS), has challenged them to visit the "state" to witness firsthand the conditions there.

The letter, which was in the possession of satellite radio station Channel Islam International (CII) Broadcasting, was signed by "the brothers and sisters of your countrymen who Allah has blessed with the honour of being citizens of the Dawlatul Khalifah [the state of the leader]".

The group is also commonly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It has overrun large parts of both countries.

News24 could not immediately independently confirm the authenticity of the letter but State Security Agency (SSA) spokesperson Brian Dube said the department was aware of it and was investigating.

CII said it confirmed that the letter was forwarded by a South African who was currently living in Syria, although that individual's name did not appear on the letter. The station also said it did not know whether the document carried any official weight with those running ISIS.

Challenge

"Dear scholars, fear Allah in what you say about your brothers. We challenge you to get your information from Muslims within this khalifah [religious leadership] rather than the kuffar [disbelievers] and people who are not equipped with insight into what is actually going on here," the letter read.

"We challenge you to come see for yourself! If you really can't come or really cannot get genuine information... then at least remain silent."

Dube said the department was investigating the origin of the letter.

"We will look into it as part of the work we are doing [with regards to ISIS]," he said.

When asked if the Muslim scholars would be allowed to travel to the Islamic State to see what the conditions there were like, Dube said: "For now, what is important is that we establish its [the letter's] authenticity."

‘Deep love’

The letter claims that the South Africans wrote it "out of deep love and concern for you as brothers and sisters in Islam".

"It is concerning for us that you are being deceived and misguided by people claiming to have knowledge of what the khalifahis and what is happening in Dawlatul Islamia [the Islamic State]," it said.

"Firstly, let us look at the source of this information and knowledge that you are being fed... most of it is coming from news channels and media sources that are either funded by or run exclusively by Jewish conglomerates.

"So a large portion of your opinions about your brothers and your state... is based on information that you attain from the enemy".

The group says that its leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the Caliph, or leader of the entire worldwide Muslim community, or Ummah.

‘No craziness’

The letter claims that there was no "craziness on the ground" in areas controlled by the Islamic State. 

"No people [are] being dragged off and shot in the head for not giving bayah [allegiance to al-Baghdadi], no random beheading.

"[There are] no dodgy executions of people dragged off the street pleading for their lives. No oppression of women like we see in so many 'Muslim lands'. No random enslavement of people on the street."

The letter was allegedly written in response to several Muslim scholars, including Moulana Ebrahim Bham, from the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa (Council of Muslim Theologians) publicly criticising the formation of the group and addressing local Muslim communities on the matter.

Moulana Bham told News24 he was in a meeting for the rest of the day, but would respond to the questions on the letter later.

‘Ironic’

He told CII earlier that the letter was ironic.

“The letter does not give a source. It is anonymous. It’s done on the basis that it is an unverified letter. So I will deal with it with a certain degree of circumspection," he told the broadcaster.

“We are open to invitation with regard to discussing the matter. Whether you need to go there as a fact finding mission, obviously there are processes involved, there are difficulties involved... [But] our arms are open with regards to discussing this or any other matter pertaining to the Ummah."

Cape Town teen

In April, a 15-year-old Cape Town girl was stopped from allegedly leaving the country to join ISIS. She was apprehended before taking a flight to Johannesburg.

The SSA ministry said at the time that she was SA's first known detention linked to the group.

It said it was investigating whether ISIS had a recruitment network in South Africa.

Read more on:    isis  |  johannesburg  |  security

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