A string of international arrests of South African citizens, followed by sensational reports in the last week of terrorist plots against tourism and financial sites, is raising new questions about the depth of Islamic extremism in a country known for its racial and religious tolerance. \nSouth Africans were jolted all last week by headlines about terrorism, most stemming from the July 25 arrests of two Pretoria-area men during a raid on a suspected hide-out for al-Qaeda in Gujrat, Pakistan. The raid resulted in the detention of 14 suspects, including Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian accused of masterminding the bombings of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. \nGujrat's police commissioner said last week that the Pretoria men "had some terror plans for South Africa" and maps of several cities. \nThe country's newspapers, citing anonymous sources, have detailed a sheaf of planned attacks against financial institutions and sites frequented by US tourists. By various accounts, the men had plans to attack the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Sheraton Hotel and the American Embassy in Pretoria, the national parliament, a waterfront tourist complex in Cape Town and even the Queen Elizabeth 2 as it steamed into the harbors of Durban or Cape Town. \nThe two arrested men were identified as Feroz Ganchi, a 30-year-old doctor, and Zubair Ismail, 20, a student of Islamic studies. Their families insist that they have no connection to al-Qaeda and that they flew to Pakistan on a hiking expedition. South Africa's government says it has yet to gain access to the men, but it denounced the reports as baseless and needlessly alarming. \n"This is a case of shouting `fire' in a crowded cinema," Cabinet spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said last week. \nBut South Africans were greeted Thursday by fresh reports that another South African Muslim, a 29-year-old man, was quietly arrested last Tuesday in Mexico near the US border after the authorities found irregularities in his travel documents. \nA spokeswoman for the South African police intelligence division declined to provide details, saying the case was under investigation. \nLast week's disclosures follow the national police service's contention in May -- derided by some at the time -- that it thwarted al-Qaeda plot to disrupt South Afri-ca's national elections the previous month by expelling five people suspected of being terrorists. \nBy some accounts last week, however, the May expulsions and July arrests were both part of a larger al-Qaeda operation in South Africa. That is raising uncomfortable questions in a country that has lately considered Islamic terrorism to be Kenya and Tanzania's problem, not South Africa's. \n"We've come to assume that the period of stability and nonterrorist headlines over the last few years is going to continue," Peter Gastrow, a terrorism analyst who heads the Cape Town office of South Africa's Institute for Security Studies, said in a telephone interview. \n"We need more information now, in order to know whether we need to tighten up our security," Gastrow said. \nOnly 2 percent of South Africa's 45 million people are Muslim. The overwhelming majority of them -- blacks and ethnic Indians, concentrated in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban -- embrace a moderate, tolerant form of Islam, Gastrow said. \nBut among a small -- some say growing -- number of adherents, extremism has flourished.
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures