Mosque attackers ‘an Isis cell’

2018-10-24 16:01

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The men involved in the Verulam mosque attack were allegedly using an Islamic State (Isis) handbook when carrying out their crimes against “non-believers”.

And a Durban home belonging to accused Farhad Hoomer, where several accused were arrested, was allegedly used as a terrorist “training” camp, where Isis “training DVDs” were found.

Police recovered eight “Isis flags” from that home on Nugget Road, Reservoir Hills.

One accused, Ahmed Haffejee, was even found to be on an international Islamic “militant” WhatsApp group.

This was the startling evidence contained in an affidavit by lead investigating officer Kwezi Chonco, who was opposing bail for 11 men charged in connection with an attack and murder at a Verulam mosque in May.

Chonco’s affidavit was read out in the magistrate’s court by state advocate Adele Barnard.

Nineteen men were arrested in connection with the incident, where worshipper Abbas Essop was murdered at the Imam Hussein Mosque in Ottawa, Verulam. Two others, Imam Ali Nchiyane and caretaker Mohammed Ali, were stabbed.

An explosive device was detonated at the mosque during the incident.

The accused are also allegedly linked to explosive devices being found at various Durban businesses, including Woolworths outlets.

Seven accused have since had charges withdrawn against them and another, Goolam Mohammed Rashid Haffejee, was granted R100 000 bail.

The state is opposing bail for the remaining 11 accused because it believes the accused will abscond the country, intimidate witnesses, and interfere with the case. Chonco’s affidavit said the state has an “overwhelming” case against them.

The 11 face a raft of charges, including murder, attempted murder, arson, extortion, and charges related to terrorism.

Chonco’s affidavit said the accused were found with material that indicated they had “support” for and “commitment” to Isis.

He said the accused were using the word of Isis to target “non-believers” and “enemies”.

He alleged the group extorted money from Durban businesses to fund their efforts, even providing them with a Bitcoin account to deposit money. When money was not forthcoming, they were targeted with explosive devices similar to the one used during the mosque attack.

Chonco said explosive devices that were “similar” in make-up to the ones used at the mosque attack and found at the businesses were found at a Fulham Road, Reservoir Hills, home where most of the accused were arrested.

Some accused lived at that house.

Explosive devices as well as devices used to detonate them were found at the house. CCTV footage has placed some of the accused at the Woolworths stores on the days that explosive devices were found.

A digital device seized from accused Mohamed Akbar, a foreign national, allegedly had on it a video showing the testing of an explosive device.

Chonco alleged that Hoomer is the leader of the operation, and his fellow accused “turn to him for advice”.

On Monday, all 11 accused said they intended to plead not guilty.

The matter has now been postponed to Thursday for defence lawyers to submit responses to Chonco’s affidavit.

The case has been characterised by its sensitive nature, and media are not allowed to record or to take photographs during proceedings.

Another identity parade is to be held as a new complaint has come forward.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  verulam mosque attack

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