South Africa provides fertile ground for funders of terrorism …


The US embassy in South Africa has twice raised the alarm recently about terrorism in the country. On 26 October it issued a security alert for a possible terror attack in Sandton, the financial centre of Johannesburg.

Days later it blacklisted four individuals and eight companies as terrorist financiers for Islamic State (ISIS). This followed media reports, most notably by The Economist, showing that ISIS was using South Africa to add to its war chest.

There is a long history of concerns about the country’s deficiencies in dealing with terrorism financing activities within its borders. More than 15 years ago, American terrorism expert John Solomon warned that lawlessness and government corruption in the country facilitated terrorist financing.

I have been researching terrorist financing within South Africa for many years. In my book Jihad: A South African Perspective, I unpack the state of terrorist financing in the country using open sources.

The latest US action comes as South Africa is rushing to avert “greylisting”: being placed on the list of countries subject to increased monitoring by the Financial Action Task Force. The inter-governmental task force has identified deficiencies in the country’s policies and efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

Risk of greylisting

The issue will also surface in February 2023 when South Africa is due for another review by the Financial Action Task Force. This body evaluates steps by governments to prevent the financing of terrorism and money laundering.

In its last evaluation, published in October 2021, the task force said South Africa had a strong legal framework against money laundering and terrorism financing. But its implementation had significant shortcomings, including a failure to prosecute criminal cases.

The country has either not complied or only partially complied with 20 of the body’s recommendations to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. There is thus a strong possibility that South Africa will be added to the greylist of countries that are monitored closely.

Greylisting is an attempt by the international community to prevent illicit funds being directed towards terrorist groups.

The task force’s concerns about South Africa aren’t new. In 2009, it warned that the country needed to pay closer attention to regulating trusts, monitoring financial transactions, compliance with anti-money laundering legislation, and enhancing the disclosure of trans-border cash transfers.

The risk of greylisting suggests that the country has not taken the necessary steps to ensure compliance.

This should hardly come as a surprise to those following the growing footprint of terror groups in South Africa.

A longstanding problem

In January 2007 Jonathan Schanzer, a security analyst, reported that two South African cousins – Farhad Ahmed Dockrat, the principal of the Darus Salaam Islamic College in Laudium, Pretoria, and Dr Junaid Ismail Dockrat, a dentist – were proposed for consideration on the UN Security Council’s list of terror suspects. They had already been placed on the US treasury department’s list of Al Qaeda’s supporters.

According to papers submitted to the Security Council, Farhad was alleged to be an Al Qaeda “facilitator and terrorist financier”. Junaid, it was claimed, was also an Al Qaeda “financier, recruiter and facilitator”.Jonathan Schanzer,

The judicial system needs to be empowered to develop the necessary specialised capacity to ensure speedy convictions. Finally, the country needs to work with global partners to aggressively respond to this threat.The Conversation

Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor and Academic Head of Department: Political Studies and Governance, University of the Free State

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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