Professor Hussein Solomon fingered in ‘Al Qaeda in South Africa’ expose’
Professor Hussein Solomon is the master architect behind today’s Daily Maverick article on alleged ‘Al Qaeda’ activities in South Africa.
This was the view articulated by veteran community activist and journalist Zahid Asmal on Cii Radio today as the Muslim community responded to journalist De Wet Potgieter’s purported year-long investigation on “secret military training camps and sophisticated sniper training at three well-documented locations as well as several others across South Africa”.
The article which has elicited a storm of criticism from Muslim community leaders has been censured for being poorly written and being a rehash of previous allegations on Al Qaeda activity in South Africa that have been proven to be fallacious.
Referring to previously published work of the University of the Free State Professor of Political Studies and Governance, including one piece dated 09 May 2013, Asmal said he had no doubt Solomon was consulted extensively in the preparing of the ‘investigative piece’.
“What is of most concern is that there seems to be a distinct attempt to play government against the Muslim community of South Africa,” said Asmal.
“This is the start of the pressure on the South African government..Because of the support of the Muslim community for various causes of justice around the world, (it is believed) this community must be targeted, and targeted quickly.”
‘Research’ from Solomon quoted in the controversial story says, “Pretoria’s ambiguous response to terrorism also extends into the international sphere. In October 2006, during his meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former president Thabo Mbeki spoke of the need for international co-operation in the area of counter-terrorism. When such co-operation, however, is needed from the South Africans, they baulk. In January 2007, when South Africa was informed that the US intended to place two South Africans – the Dockrat cousins – on the UN Security Council’s list of terror suspects, South Africa was vehemently opposed to this. Needless to say, relations between Washington and Pretoria soured. These incidents raise the question of whether South Africa is prepared to walk the talk in the global fight against terrorism or not. Put differently, is South Africa a credible partner in the fight against terrorism?”
Also speaking on Cii Radio this morning, Iqbal Jassat, chairman of the Pretoria based advocacy grouping, the Media Review Network(MRN) echoed the suspicions of Solomon.
“For more then a decade, Hussein Solomon has been desperate in getting government and security agencies to gang up against legitimate Muslim activities in the country.”
“His latest allegations are not surprising. However, what is surprising is that mainstream media would give him such credibility, when he has been discredited,” bemoaned Jassat, referring to erroneous predictions by Solomon in 2009 that al Qaeda posed a grave danger to security at the 2010 soccer World Cup tournament.
He said the response of South African authorities was the perfect antidote to such scaremongering. Referencing a meeting between Muslim community leaders and government role players in the wake of the 2010 allegations, Jassat said the Daily Maverick allegations offered nothing new.
“Everything was very effectively dealt with including the so-called military training sites, be it Greenbushes in PE or the Klein Karoo. The intelligence cluster, including top security brass, had given us a clear assurance that they do not take information peddling seriously. They conveyed that there is no evidence of any breach of criminal law, nor any violations of South African anti terror legislation. Solomon is trying very hard to pit the government against the local Muslim community.”
In his recent interview with the Research of Islam and Muslims in Africa blog, Solomon opined that the best way to respond to ‘radical Islam and terrorism in South Africa’ was to “disrupt the pathways of radicalization” through an engagement with the Muslim community as well as “blocking certain internet sites which have led to the phenomenon of “self-radicalization”. He said the effort should also entail the placement of long-term intelligence assets in key Muslim organizations to ensure that terrorists are pre-empted.
Speaking to Cii News this morning, Solomon who referred to himself as a practicing Muslim, said he seconded the reports of an Al Qaeda mobilisation within South Africa.
“I think it is imperative that Muslims stand up and say: ‘These people do not speak in our name. This is not my religion, I will not attack the innocent, neither will I allow any member of my faith to attack the innocent on the basis of a complete misinterpretation of the Quraan.”
|Al Qaeda in SA or Stalemate fear mongering?|
The Daily Maverick, an online portal of news and analysis ran with the story Al-Qaeda: Alive and well in South Africa this morning. The lengthy piece details a year-long investigation by De Wet Potgieter revealing “surprising inaction by police despite incriminating evidence about secret military training camps and sophisticated sniper training at three well-documented locations as well as several others across South Africa.”
The article charts the business movements and financial history of the Dockrat family who “catapulted into the world focus in 2007 when US terrorism financing trackers noted ‘suspicious financial transactions’ coming out of South Africa that ‘appeared’ to benefit al-Qaeda.” At its base, the article quotes extensively from Professor Hussein Solomon from the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the University of the Free State. He has long tried to maintain that South Africa confronts a tangible terror threat in the form of terrorists targeting our country. To date his academic integrity remains on the line – in 2010 Professor Solomon was ‘convinced ’ al-Qaeda intended attacking and targeting the Fifa World Cup.
Potgeiter asks why police crime intelligence as well as the specialised police unit, Crimes Against the State, and the State Security Agency carried out ‘competent’ and ‘inspired intelligence-gathering’ on their operations yet were forced to stop their monitoring by ‘operatives of an unidentified state agency’.
Commenting on Sabahul Muslim Drive Time with Ml Sulaimaan Ravat, analyst Abie Dawjee made light of the article calling at best ‘rehashed lazy journalism’ intended to create fear and sensationalism. He felt that Muslim’s should laugh of the absurdity of these Al Qaeda ‘allegations’ and ‘suspicions’ saying that lengthy surveillance and thick dossiers of information could by no means be taken as concrete evidence of an actual or informed threat.
Secretary General of the Jamiatul Ulema South Africa, Ml Ebrahim Bham slated allegations that the masjid named in the article; Darus Salaam Muslim Centre in Laudium was particularly popular among Pakistani and Malawian Muslims. He mentioned that immigrants make up a large part of all masjid congregations and this was an issue related to our Home Affairs Department, not the particular masaajid immigrants attend. He further commented that credible proof, not lazy so-called investigative journalism and generalised fear mongering be brought to the table, in the interests of harmony in our country.