Press Release on Accusations of Terrorist Training Camps in South Africa

The Media Review Network [MRN] and the Muslim Judicial Council [MJC] are deeply perturbed at the remarks made by Barry Gilder- National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee [NICOC] Director General, in which he implies that South Africa is a haven for “terrorists”.

We are outraged by these accusations which lack evidence and have the potential to raise a cloud of suspicion over the entire Muslim community of South Africa. Not only are these accusations liable to further fuel Islamophobia, but also contains the likelihood of promoting Xenophobia, since people who originate in Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh and Jordan, have been accused of having terror links.

It amazes us that if South Africa, according to Gilder, has been monitoring the situation for a number of years, why has the security agencies neither charged nor prosecuted any of the suspects successfully in a legitimate court of law?

Equally alarming, is the allegation that there could be “terrorist” training camps in South Africa. We also contest the credibility and veracity of these dubious claims in the absence of the provision of any evidence.

We deplore the notion that such untested information is being fed to the enforcement agencies, giving rise to our fears that more incidents reminiscent of the Khalid Rashid saga may be in the offing.

We question Gilder`s wisdom in implying that organisations could be involved in so-called “international terrorism”. By such conjecture, questions about the legitimacy of these organisations, inevitably Muslim, would unjustifiably set them up for possible scrutiny and harassment by law-enforcement agencies.

We dismiss the uncritical acceptance of the terminology and vocabulary, which clearly reveals that Gilder has no moral compunction in providing legitimacy to the United States-led “war on terror,” which has left death and destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq and now in Somalia.

We further express our concerns that our young democracy must not be unwittingly drawn into America`s so-called “war on terror” thereby exposing our Government to possible Human Rights violations.

We call on the South African Government to refrain from resorting to such wild allegations which unduly and unfairly smear and blemish the integrity of Muslims and their respective organisations.

Issued by MRN & MJC; Iqbal Jassat- Chairman Sheikh Achmat Sedick-Deputy President; Tel: 083 594 3749 Tel: 073 428 2072.