Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Al-Qaeda head had SA passport – report

June 14 2011 at 09:12am
By Peter Fabricius

Independent Newspapers
Fazul Abdullah Mohammad was reportedly carrying a South African passport under the name Daniel Robinson and the passport had a recent exit stamp from South Africa. Photo: Independent Newspapers
The Department of Home Affairs is investigating media reports that the suspected head of al-Qaeda in East Africa was carrying a South African passport when he was killed last Wednesday.

Fazul Abdullah Mohammad was shot dead by Somali government forces at a roadblock in Mogadishu.

He was reportedly carrying a South African passport under the name Daniel Robinson – and the passport had a recent exit stamp from South Africa.

The Department of Home Affairs said it was trying to establish if he had been issued a South African passport. If so, “those implicated will be brought to book and will face disciplinary measures”, it said.

Spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said the department was also trying to confirm that he had recently been in South Africa.

Mohammed was the alleged mastermind of the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and was also suspected of plotting the Kampala bombings a year ago by al-Shabaab, a Somali affiliate of al-Qaeda.

DA home affairs spokeswoman Annette Lovemore called on the Minister of Home Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to investigate the possible connection between the fraudulent procurement of South African passports from the Department Home Affairs, and international terrorism.

“Passport and ID fraud continues to pervade the Department of Home Affairs. It is of deep concern that the failings of this department may be helping to facilitate international terrorist activity,” she said.

“This is not the first time a terror suspect has been found to be in possession of a South African passport.

“In 2004, a Tunisian al-Qaeda suspect, Ihsan Garnaoui, told German investigators he had a number of South African passports.

“British-born Haroon Rashid Aswat, supposed ringleader of the 2005 London bus bombings, lived in South Africa and travelled to the UK on a South African passport.

“In 2006, Mohammed Gulzar entered Britain with a fake South African passport under the name Altaf Ravat, allegedly with the intent of blowing up transatlantic airliners in mid-flight.

“The DA urges the minister to investigate this matter urgently to determine whether Mr Moham-med’s passport was bona fide, and, if so, how he came to obtain it and what steps the department plans to take to tackle fraud of this nature.”

US embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said the US was gravely concerned with the security of travel documents. The US commended South Africa for its efforts to improve the security of its travel documents.

“The US will continue to work with the international law enforcement community “to encourage strict international protocols for these documents”. – Foreign Editor

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