Terrorists prefer SA travel docs

Security analysts say SA passports which fall into the hands of terrorists must be dealt with.

A screengrab from a CNN video taking a look at the al-Shabaab militant group claiming responsibility for the deadly attack at the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Picture: CNN

JOHANNESBURG - According to Chief Security Analyst at Red24, Ryan Cummings, terror suspects prefer using South African passports because the country is perceived to be neutral.

Cummings spoke to Talk At Nine about reasons why terrorists like South African travel documents.

He said the issue of South African passports falling into "hands of suspected terrorist" must be dealt with.

"Our country is not known to host any domestic or international terrorist organisations nor is South Africa located in a neo political terrorist heart zone. People travelling using our passports don't attract suspicion as other high risk countries do."

Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said the South African passport fraudulently issued to Samantha Lewthwaite, also known as the 'White Widow', was cancelled two years ago.

The British national obtained the document in the name of Natalie Faye Webb in 2008.

In response to the 'White Widow' issue, Cummings said it's easy to get a South African passport.

"SA passports are widespread in terms of their availability as they are easily forged documents."

Lewthwaite is not the first suspected terrorist to have used a South African passport.

East African al-Qaeda leader Fazul Abdullah Mohamed and British citizen Haroon Rashid Aswat are among some of the people who obtained SA travel documents.

Pandor says Lewthwaite obtained the passport by using the late registration of birth process to access the population register.

Cummings said there was a need to find out whether the people in possession of these documents forge them or work in cahoots with corrupt government officials.

He said serious questions needed to be asked about the accessibility of these documents.