Answers sought over al-Qaeda probe

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance wants answers on why a reported probe into al-Qaeda activities in South Africa was stopped, DA spokesperson Dianne Kohler Barnard said on Monday.

"South Africans deserve an explanation as to what happened and why the investigation was stopped. If there was no terrorist threat then Crime Intelligence should be able to explain their reasoning for halting their investigation," she said.

She intended writing to acting chairperson of the police portfolio committee, Annelize van Wyk, to request that acting head of crime intelligence, Chris Ngcobo, and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa brief the committee on the situation urgently.

"These are extremely serious allegations, with both national security and international relations implications, and cannot be ignored. Minister Mthethwa must appear in Parliament to provide clarity on this situation," she said.

No comment from Hawks

Earlier, the Hawks declined to comment on a report that police and the State Security Agency (SSA) monitored training of al-Qaeda "terrorists" in South Africa without taking action.

"No comment. It's not our policy to talk about works underway," Hawks spokesperson Captain Paul Ramaloko said on Monday, reiterating what he told the online publication Daily Maverick, which published the report.

The Daily Maverick reported that the police's crimes against the state unit and the SSA had been monitoring activities at a farm near the notorious apartheid police hit-squad camp Vlakplaas, outside Pretoria, and at a secluded farm in the Klein Karoo.

"Operation Kanu" was reportedly launched to "investigate extremist Muslim activities" in South Africa, shortly after the 9/11 World Trade Centre attacks in the United States, and was crime intelligence driven.

It began at the same time as a parallel investigation into far right-wing activities, called "Operation Waco", which led to the marathon Boeremag treason trial.

British and US intelligence agencies reportedly pressured the South African government into acting against any possible Muslim terrorist threats emanating from within the country, and warned South Africa to stop "pussyfooting" on the issue.

"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 reportedly warned.

The Daily Maverick reported that "at the centre of this alleged terrorist network are several members of the well-known and influential Dockrat family".

It traced the family's ownership of fashion chains and noted its choice of a mosque popular among Pakistani and Malawian Muslims.

It reported that Farhad and Junaid Dockrat's names were forwarded to the United Nations' Security Council's al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctions committee for designation, but that South Africa put an indefinite hold on the designation process.

The Dockrats reportedly denied links to al-Qaeda or any other militant groups.

Farm, golf estate

According to the online publication, three months after they were put on a US "terrorist list" in 2007, the Dockrats moved their operation from Pretoria to the farm, Greylock, in the Klein Karoo.

There they were monitored by an intelligence team pretending to search for a rare species of Protea.

There was a court dispute over a communal water line and the Dockrats later bought a 70% share of the developing Tsitsikamma Golf Estate.

Investment reportedly ground to a halt, and the home owners' association was in dispute with them, claiming Tsitsikamma had been declared a "possible terrorist hotspot" by the US and this was affecting tourism.

In a comment to the Daily Maverick about the Tsitsikamma matter, the company which owns the golf estate said it welcomed all investigations and would fully co-operate with the authorities.

"We trust that the Daily Maverick is not being driven by an Islamophobic attack generated by a commercial venture of the Tsitsikamma Golf Estate, which has been placed under care and maintenance arising from the current economic climate; a fate suffered by numerous golf estates," the company was reported to have said.

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