Four terror suspects arrested in South Africa | News | DW | 11.07.2016
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Four terror suspects arrested in South Africa

US and British intelligence agencies alerted South African officials last month that a domestic terror attack could be imminent. Four suspects are under arrest and due to appear in court Monday.

Four suspects in South Africa are facing terror-related charges after being detained by police. The three men and one woman were arrested over the weekend as they were about to fly to Syria.

"We stopped them from flying to Syria and the airline concerned was also informed and they were refused access," said Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesman for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, widely known as "the Hawks."

National Hawks chief Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza called the arrests a "very big step forward in the fight against terrorism".

The suspects, in their early 20s, were first identified in 2015 when they attempted to travel to Syria, according to Mulaudzi.

"Investigations showed they intended to join terrorist group ISIS," Hangwani told the local News24.

Monday in court

The four are due to appear in court on Monday, two of them in Johannesburg on terror-related charges. Two others, who are scheduled to appear at the Kagiso Magistrates Court west of Johannesburg, will face firearms and explosives related charges, according to Hangwani.

It is unclear if they were planning to help the "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria or launch an attack in South Africa.

Foreign nationals have flocked to Syria to fight for or against IS, an ultra-hardline Sunni group that has also carried out deadly attacks worldwide.

There are no known militant groups operating in South Africa, but last month US and British intelligence agencies warned of a potential terror attack against foreigners in South Africa.

The country's Muslim minority makes up just 1.5 percent of the country's population. Analysts fear economic hardships could be a catalyst for radicalizing the country's small Muslim population.

bik/kl (Reuters, AFP)