SA contacts US over al-Qaeda accusation

The South African government has been in contact with the United States regarding two SA citizens with suspected links to al-Qaeda, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday.

Spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said that the government was awaiting directives from Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on the issue.

Mamoepa was responding to queries about a Sunday Times report that said two South Africans had been named by the United Nations Security Council on its list of terror suspects for alleged links to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda and the deposed Taliban in Afghanistan.

Moulana Farhad Ahmed Dockrat, a Muslim cleric from Pretoria, and his cousin Junaid Ismail Dockrat, a dentist from Mayfair, were accused of being al-Qaeda "facilitator(s) and terrorist financier(s)" by the US.

Both men denied the allegations, the report said.

Moulana Farhad Dockrat and his son Muaaz were detained on a trip to The Gambia last year, also after alleged connections to al-Qaeda.

Director of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Professor Adam Habib told the South African Press Association that the US had a track record for targeting individuals without just cause.

"Our government must ask for proof and interrogate it and then act appropriately," he said.

"Our Constitution demands that if you judge our citizens, you must provide the evidence to back it up ... they are South African citizens and we want to know on what grounds the allegations are made."

Habib, who had also been denied entry into the US and deported back to South Africa while on a business trip last year, said that the US had misled the Security Council in the past.

"On a number of occasions they have identified people who are not terrorists, how do we know this is not one of those times ... if the Security Council is to recognise America's position ...
they [the US] must provide proof for the UN and the South African government to interrogate," he said.

If the terror links were proven, however, action should be taken, Habib said.

The Sunday Times reported that the Foreign Affairs Department and South African intelligence agencies had been in contact with the US State Department regarding the two men for almost a year.

It said the country refused to divulge evidence that led to their suspicion as it would expose their intelligence-gathering methods.

Trying time

With their names on the list, the two men face having their assets and bank accounts frozen, they will not be allowed to trade anywhere in the world, they will not be allowed to travel and may face harassment if they attempt to do so, said Habib.

Junaid said he did not know about the allegations until Sunday Times reporters appeared on his doorstep on Saturday and told him about the list.

"I have never been contacted by any person to indicate what accusations are levelled against me, nor was I provided with the opportunity to make representation to anybody or persons prior to my name having been included on the list," he said.

Junaid said the events since he discovered he was on the list had been "particularly trying" for him and his family, but he had faith in the South African government and "their respect for the rule of law".

"I am a law-abiding citizen and am prepared to contest these allegations in a court of law," he said. "I have full confidence that our government will not yield to pressure to act in a manner that will deprive me of my constitutional rights and my right to be presumed innocent." - Sapa

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