Local anti drug movement People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) has denied any affiliation with Iranian intelligence agencies, as South Africa finds itself at the centre of a web of spy allegations. Recently leaked “Spy Cables” sheds light on the secret dealings between world intelligence agencies, including South Africa’s Security Agency. The report claims that South African organisations and businesses are being used as a front for Iranian intelligence activities.
But Pagad spokesperson Haroun Orrie said the allegations – that the group is being supported by Iran – are age old claims that stem from various religious leaders within the community. However, Orrie adds that upon Pagad’s request, none of the said individuals were able to substantiate their claims.
“We maintain that these allegations are blatant lies in a plot by the Zionists to destroy and derail the Pagad programme and completely shed a dark light on the Pagad name. We will stand firmly in what we believe,” Orrie stated.
Some analysts believe the accusations against Pagad will deepen the hostile tensions between Sunni and Shia groupings in South Africa. In defence of Pagad’s founding members, Orrie questioned the validity of claims that these individuals are former members of the Qiblah Movement, an off-spring of the Hezbollah movement. Qibla was formed in the early 1980s to promote the aims and ideals of the Iranian revolution in South Africa.
“The public should question why in fact our leadership have now ended their involvement with those particular factions and have joined the Pagad movement. We encourage anyone to come to our offices and ask us any question. We have an open book policy,” Orrie added.
Counter terrorism researcher Anneli Botha, in her case study of Pagad in 2005, notes that it “was the ideological and spiritual environment created by Qibla that led to the emergence of Pagad on 9 December 1995. Botha’s research echoes much of what has been revealed in the Spy Leaks, that Pagad was being “manipulated from a safe distance by the Iranian intelligence services”, which use the organization not only to “propagate the world view of the Islamic Republic”, but also “as a cover to conduct espionage” in South Africa.
But Orrie said that the organisation has always maintained its independence within society.
“We have never taken directive from other organisations from other organisations or movements, politicians or religious fraternities that is backing us in any way. We are seeking guidance from the Holy Quran. Whether there are current members within our organisations that have been part of the Qiblah movement, we must ask why they are no longer loyal to that group,” Orrie said.
While the organisation purports not to associate itself with Hezbollah, Orrie said it would be “stupid” for Pagad to deny the Shia movement if their actions went against the tenets of Islam, Prophetic teachings and the Quran.
“If the actions of these groups are correct within the context of Islam then any Muslim must support it.” VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)