SA could be at risk of terrorist attacks - security expert

2015-11-16 13:01
Iraqi security forces hold a flag of the Islamic State. (File, AP)

Iraqi security forces hold a flag of the Islamic State. (File, AP)

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Johannesburg - The whole world, including South Africa, is at risk of terrorist attacks, a senior researcher from the Institute for Security Studies said on Monday.

"The Islamic State declaring its intention to attack western interests in any part of the world makes any country, including South Africa... vulnerable," Martin Ewi told News24.

There were a number of western interests in South Africa and in Africa as a whole.

"There could be an attack [in South Africa] because we harbour elements that are incompatible with these Islamic groups."

However the country had good policies which minimised the threat and made sure South Africa did not infuriate Muslims or isolate the Muslim community, Ewi said.

He said security measures would help deter an attack. "If security measures are not effective [terrorists] can take advantage."

Security wasn't the only factor, however. He warned that a country could also be at risk if a neighbouring state was not secure.

State security spokesperson Brain Dube could not be reached for comment on South Africa's readiness for a potential attack.

Plan of attack

Ewi compared terrorism to crime. People could put up electric fences, high walls and alarms but this did not stop criminals.

"The same with terrorism. We won't be able to completely deter it."

A terrorist attack did not happen overnight and a lot of time and planning went into them.

"Terrorists have all the time on their hands. You will never know that you going to be attacked the next day. No one in France knew terrorists were going to attack on Friday night."

Ewi said he wanted to believe that South Africa's state security was doing everything possible to protect the country and its citizens.

He referred to a warning issued by the United States in September.

At the time the US embassy said its Diplomatic Mission to South Africa had received information that extremists may be targeting its interests in the country "to possibly include US Government facilities and other facilities identifiable with US business interests".

"Things will only get exposed if for some reason we face an attack in this country," said Ewi.

"So far we can say they [state security] are doing a good job. We had numerous warnings... and nothing has happened."

Read more on:    iss  |  isis  |  security

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