Both the U.S. and the U.K. had issued warnings which said that South Africa could face an ISIS-related attack in the month of June.
According to reports, David Mahlobo, state security minister, in a statement, said that there was “no immediate danger posed by the alert [and that they have] liaised with the Americans on the concerns they have and these engagements will continue as part of the ongoing work.”
Mahlobo’s statement comes after the U.K. issued a statement which cautioned citizens of possible attacks.
“There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town,” the statement said.
The U.S. on June 4 had issued a similar warning which read, “The U.S. Diplomatic Mission to South Africa informs U.S. citizens that the U.S. Government has received information that terrorist groups are planning to carry out near-term attacks against places where U.S. citizens congregate in South Africa, such as upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This information comes against the backdrop of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadaan.”
According to reports, the reason for the warnings is not clear as there are no known militant groups operating in South Africa, that has only a small Muslim population.
Experts have said that the risk remains low.
Reports quoted Ryan Cummings, an analyst with Signal Risk think tank as saying, “Terrorism is evolving and so it’s much more likely that there would be an unsophisticated, self-radicalised type attack. I’d be very surprised to see a major, complex operation.”
According to Al Jazeera, Naeem Jeenah, director of the Africa Middle East Centre (AMEC) in Johannesburg, has said that the U.S. only issues such warnings when they want to send a certain message to the South African government […] because they are seen as too soft on terrorism.
He added, “The last time they issued something similar was when the government was preparing to allow South Africans to return home after joining ISIS in Raqqa. The U.S. government issued a warning of possible terror attacks about five days or before this happened to send a signal to the government that it was too soft on those returnees and the issue of terrorism.”