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SSA 'unaware' of ISIS recruiting South Africans

Reports say that as many as 140 South Africans have travelled to Syria to join ISIS.

A fighter of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) prepare to fight against Islamic State (IS) group on 7 November, 2014 in the Syrian besieged border town of Ain al-Arab (known as Kobane by the Kurds). Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The State Security Agency says it's not aware of any South Africans fighting in the ISIS terror group in the Middle East but is working with international partners to monitor the situation.

The Sunday Independent today reported that as many as 140 South Africans have travelled to Syria and Iraq where the group has seized swathes of territory and in June declared a caliphate over the areas it controls.

State Security spokesman Brian Dube says, "We are forever vigilant and always working with our partners to try get information which will assist us in the particular fight but in this regard we can indicate that we are not aware of this specific report being mentioned."

This month Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called for attacks against the rulers of Saudi Arabia in a speech purported to be in his name on Thursday, saying his self-declared caliphate was expanding there and in four other Arab countries.

Baghdadi also said a US-led military campaign against his group in Syria and Iraq was failing and he called for "volcanoes of jihad" the world over.

"Oh soldiers of the Islamic State...erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere. Light the earth with fire against all dictators."

Reuters could not independently confirm the authenticity of the speech - an audio recording carried on Islamic State-run social media.

The speech followed contradictory accounts out of Iraq after US air strikes last Friday about whether he was wounded in a raid.

US officials said on Tuesday they could not confirm whether Baghdadi was hit in a strike near Falluja in Iraq.

Since ISIS began an offensive in Iraq in June, Saudi Arabia has sent thousands of troops to the border area.

Obama has said the United States aims to degrade and eventually destroy Islamic State.

Referring to US-led military action against his group, Baghdadi said, "Despite this Crusade campaign being the most fierce and severe of all, it is the greatest failure."

"We see America and its allies stumbling in fear, weakness, impotence and failure."

Referring to Yemen, where Shia Houthis captured the capital Sanaa in September, forcing the government to resign, he said, "Oh soldiers of Yemen...be harsh against the Houthis, they are infidels and apostates. Fight them and win against them."

Baghdadi also congratulated supporters in Egypt's Sinai for starting jihad against what he called the "dictators of Egypt".

He also urged supporters in Libya, Algeria and Morocco to prevent secular groups from ruling.

After Baghdadi's speech, Egyptian militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which swore allegiance to ISIS this week, changed its name to Sinai Province on the Twitter feed claiming to represent it.