Four arrested for alleged terrorism-related activities in JHB

It’s understood the suspects were planning to fly to Syria.

Picture: SAPS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Hawks have arrested four people for alleged terrorism-related activities in Johannesburg.

Two houses were raided yesterday, one in Newclare and the other in Azaadville.

It's understood the suspects were planning to fly to Syria.

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said, "We managed to get a search warrant and during that operation we confiscated computers and other things. We then took the decision to arrest them. Two will be appearing in the Kagiso Magistrates Court on charges of terrorism-related activities as well as [possession of] firearms and bombs."

TERROR ALERTS

Last month, the US Embassy released a high alert about possible attacks on upmarket shopping malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

In Gauteng, Sandton City, Eastgate and Menlyn malls confirmed they had received a warning and had already implemented additional security.

The warnings related to potential terror attacks by Islamic militants on Americans in South Africa.

US ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard said his country was working closely with South Africa to uncover possible security threats.

He said he was happy with the level of cooperation he had received from South Africa since issuing a travel advisory warning of a real threat of terrorist attacks on shopping malls and US installations.

Gaspard said it was unfortunate that we live in a time when violent extremist organisations take advantage of public goodwill and that his embassy had issued the security warning based on verifiable information.

The warning came 10 months after a similar alert of a possible attack on South African soil was declared a false alarm.

Britain had also warned of possible attacks in South Africa.

Reuters quoted a government statement saying there was a high threat of terrorism and attacks could be indiscriminate.

Britain also warned shopping areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town that are visited by foreigners could be targeted.

The country warned its nationals saying, "There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attacks globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria."

British and Australian embassies responded by saying they were merely updating their travel advisors.

THE WAY TERROR ALERTS WERE HANDLED

The South African government later made a formal démarch on embassies that issued terror alerts in South Africa.

It's a strong diplomatic protest at the way the matter was handled.

The South African government accused the US Embassy of trying to influence, manipulate or control South Africa's counter-terrorism work.

In a hard-hitting statement issued in response to the terror alerts, the government said the information relied on was dubious, unsubstantiated and based on a single-source.

Government also rejected what it believed was an attempt to generate a perception of its ineptitude, and create alarmist impressions and public hysteria on the basis of a questionable source.

Hence, South Africa then made a formal démarche on the affected embassies to register its displeasure.

Government added that should the need arise, it is government which will be the first to inform the public about any imminent threat.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Barry Bateman.