International relations spokesperson, US ambassador in 'twar on terror alert'

Johannesburg - International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela has hit out at the US embassy on Twitter, saying its terror alerts caused "panic".

This after the US government warned its citizens in South Africa about possible terror attacks by Islamic militants.

In a tweet on Saturday night, Monyela said: "The last advisory by @USEmbassySA to US citizens in SA warning of an 'imminent attack' proved to be a false alarm. I see there's another 1."

US ambassador Patrick Gaspard, however, hit back, saying: "The price of freedom is eternal diligence, and through Grace we are all made safe. The only false note is arrogance."

Monyela chose to end the debate by replying: "I won't engage you on that road Amb. You know my views on these advisories & the panic they cause."

News24 understands, however, that the South African authorities had been informed about the terror alert and was co-operating with the US on the matter.

In an alert issued on Saturday, the US government said it had "received information that terrorist groups are planning to carry out near-term attacks against places where US citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town".

"This information comes against the backdrop of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan."

US Embassy spokesperson Cynthia Harvey said: "Protection of US citizens overseas is among our top priorities. When we receive specific, credible, non-counterable threat information, it is our worldwide policy for US embassies and consulates to share the information.

"We are co-operating with local authorities, as we do in any investigation into terrorist threats around the world."

She said US citizens were advised to enroll their international travel plans on a government website.

"There will be no change to operations at US Embassy Pretoria or our Consulates in Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg," she said.

The US issued a similar alert in September last year, but the South African State Security Agency said at the time that they had no such information and that there was no need to panic

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