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"Don't Panic!" urges State Security Minister amid terror threat

The US Embassy in Pretoria issued an alert of a possible attack on US facilities and interests on SA soil.

The Johannesburg skyline. Picture: Aki Anastasiou/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - State Security Minister David Mahlobo says his department is aware of the US Embassy's concerns of a possible attack by "extremists" against Americans and has been in discussion with diplomats for the last few days.

On Tuesday, the embassy in Pretoria issued an alert of a possible attack on US facilities and interests on South African soil, based on credible information.

The statement warned Americans in South Africa to be vigilant and review their security plans, as facilities and identifiable business interests could be targeted in the possible attacks.

Americans have been warned to be vigilant and review their security plans as identifiably US facilities and interests could be the targets of the possible attacks.

Mahlobo says his department has been in communication with the US diplomats sharing the relevant information for the last few days.

"On the basis of sharing of the information we've done our work and we've been interacting with them until later today."

He says his department will work with diplomats to assess the evidence behind the possibility of attacks the embassy has been alerted to.

"Our teams have been working on the evidence and the information they've been sharing, including the people that would say they're the targets."

While Mahlobo could not confirm the nature of threat or what the credible information is, he says there is no immediate danger and the country is "relativity stable".

US diplomatic missions closed their doors in 2009, following threats from Somali terror group al- Shabaab.

NO IMMINENT THREAT FOR SA

Mahlobo says there is no immediate danger to any person in South Africa, American or not.

"And we can confirm that in terms of our own assessment, in terms of our own information we have at our disposal, there's no imminent threat that we can confirm that can happen to any person whose actually residing in the Republic."

He says his department is working closely with US authorities.

"Our country remains relatively stable but we'll continue as government to monitor any kind of radicalisation or extremism."

Mahlobo says his department will continue to monitor any threat of or confirmed terrorist activity in South Africa.

He says, his teams are monitoring social media platforms in particular, to prevent possible recruitment and radicalisation as has been seen in the past.

SECURITY EXPERTS WARN US CITIZENS

Head of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS)'s Jakkie Cilliers says the threat is likely based on credible information that has been verified but it's an unwelcome surprise for South Africa.

"So one always place this into relative perspective, South Africa, there seems to be a threat at the moment, it should be based on very specific intelligence."

Former US Diplomat and International Relations analyst, Brooks Spector says US citizens should go about their lives but be wary of who they identify themselves to.

"You need to think about whether or not you want to identify yourself with a T-shirt that says USA all the way, for example."

Meanwhile, security analyst, Ryan Cummings, says it's not the first time US institutions in South Africa have reacted to threats.

"Similar warning was issued in 2009 also in September and that was in response to an alleged communication that was intercepted by the US authorities in South Africa."