SA an attractive destination for terrorism funding networks

South Africa is increasingly becoming more attractive to terrorist organisations with funding and training taking place within the country, according to the head of business crime and forensics at Werksmans, Bernard Hotz. 

Ironically, the ability of terrorist groups to set up networks here that provide funding and a venue to co-ordinate activities elsewhere could be protecting South Africa from terrorist attacks, at least by al-Shabaab. 

“It is believed that an al-Shabaab terrorist attack within South Africa may actually do more harm than good,” Hotz told journalists on Wednesday. “If evidence is true, al-Shabaab [is using South Africa] to fund and possibly organise high-value attacks within Somalia and the wider East African region.”

“An attack on a nonantagonistic safe haven could prompt a backlash by the South African authorities, which could place aforementioned channels at significant risk of being curtailed,” he said. 

South Africa is not ranked in the top 10 of the Global Terrorism Index, which other African countries such as Nigeria are, but it has been steadily moving up the ladder from being ranked 140 out of 162 countries in 2010 to 48th place in 2014.

The Global Terrorism Index measures incidents of terrorism, geographical activity, organisations involved and the national economic and political context, Hotz said. 

Hotz quoted Jack Salomon, head of national litigation and forensic practice at Capstone, an insurance claims and dispute advisory service, on the question of why international terrorists would find Southern Africa so attractive. 

Salomon said: “With lawlessness, government corruption and a wide range of preferred terrorist financing methods available, al-Qaeda could indeed partake in elicit and unregulated trade in Southern Africa to sustain itself.”

Hotz said South Africa is seen to have high levels of lawlessness and officials and limited investigative intelligence capabilities. 

There are some known incidents where terrorist organisations have funded themselves through a publicly traded entity on the JSE or through acquisitions by foreign entities, he said. 

Money could also be moved through multi-party transactions in which a South African company is unwittingly used as the middleman for the indirect transfer of funds.

“Historically al-Qaeda and Hezbollah operatives have been discovered to have had operations financed though South Africa, which is possibly continuing to date,” he said.  

“It’s speculated that Boko Haram might have operations in South Africa … but it is more difficult to ascertain due to the growing relationship between South Africa and Nigeria.” 

These interactions are happening despite efforts by the government to tighten legislation though the Financial Intelligence Control Act (Fica). 

Hotz said Yassim al Qadi, a US designated terrorist financer, invested $3-million for 12% interest in Global Diamond Resources, which mined diamonds in South Africa. 

A local seafood business is alleged to act as an al-Qaeda co-ordinating unit for Jihads who have been trained in Mozambique and subsequently enter South Africa illegally. 

Al Aqsa Foundation, which was established in South Africa in 1992, is on the list of US designated terror organisations and fronts, he said. 

Hotz encourages companies who do not want to be used unwittingly to educate themselves around the mechanisms to funder terrorism, such as money laundering, proceeds from investments, multi-party transactions and virtual currencies like Bitcoin, and though corrupt bank officials. 

He said companies must familiarise themselves with the operations of clients or suppliers and seek advice from appropriately qualified personnel on transactions that raise suspicion. 

Hotz said there was increased evidence of co-operation between organised crime and terrorist organisations.


Unions slam move to cut wage bill

Cosatu rejects job losses and a wage freeze for public servants, calling this ‘a declaration of war’

Coronavirus: South Africa will evacuate citizens from Wuhan

The government is expected to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak originated

Primedia CEO Essack leaves following internal battles

Omar Essack leaves the 702 and 94.7 owners after a protracted standoff with the board

‘We’re satisfied with SA’s land reform policy’— US Ambassador

Top US official is lobbying multinational firms to invest in South Africa

Press Releases

Over R400-m given to businesses since launch of three-minute overdraft

The 3-minute overdraft radically reduces the time it takes for businesses to have their working capital needs met

Tourism can push Africa onto a new path – minister

The continent is fast becoming a dynamic sought-after tourist destination

South Africa’s education system is broken and unequal, and must be fixed without further delay

The Amnesty International report found that the South African government continues to miss its own education upgrading targets

Business travel industry generates billions

Meetings Africa is ready to take advantage of this lucrative opportunity

Conferences connect people to ideas

The World Expo and Meetings Africa are all about stimulating innovation – and income

SAB Zenzele Kabili B-BBEE share scheme

New scheme to be launched following the biggest B-BBEE FMCG payout in South Africa’s history

Digging deep

Automation is unstoppable, but if we're strategic about its implementation, it presents major opportunities

TFSAs are the gymnasts of the retirement savings world

The idea is to get South Africans to save, but it's best to do your research first to find out if a TFSA is really suited to your needs