The recent arrests of Azaadville brothers, Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie, who face terrorism-related charges, have garnered much public interest. The brothers allegedly planned to detonate explosives at a US embassy and “Jewish institutions” in South Africa.
Contrary to numerous media reports, two other individuals, who were also arrested over the weekend, have not been arrested in terms of the Terrorism Act, but were instead arrested in line with the Explosives Act.
Speaking to VOC, Chairperson of the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET), Dr. Faisal Suliman, said the Muslim community needs to remain vigilant and take these arrests seriously, both in light of growing Islamophobia and confirmed attempts by locals to join ISIS.
“If this is a ‘fishing expedition’, then I hope that the attorneys will spare no charge and sue the state,” Suliman said.
He says that South Africans needs to acknowledge that both South African Muslims and Muslims abroad have condemned killings claimed by ISIS and have affirmed that the group’s actions fall out of the bounds of the shariah (Islamic law).
“There is no grey line in terms of support, be it moral or theoretical support. This is un-Islamic and [ISIS] is a pure terror organization – we should condemn it.”
In light of fears that more locals may join ISIS, he says that Muslim scholars condemned through letters and news reports the actions of the group. Suliman, however, notes that the condemnation is not adequately published.
He says that where South African citizens have joined ISIS, their communities and families cannot be held responsible as plans to leave the country and join the organization is generally kept under wraps.
“I do not think there has been tacit support for ISIS in anyway,” Suliman stated.
While the Muslim community is criticized when reports of ISIS attacks is publicized, Suliman says that the Muslim community themselves have been shocked by the arrests since ISIS has not spared the lives of Muslims.
“If you look at the spread of attacks, no where have they attacked American or Jewish embassies, but they have attacked Muslims by and large. We [SAMNET] expect everybody to respect the law and we won’t support anyone who is targeting innocent people,” he added.
In a statement, the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa said the investigations, as well as the judicial process around these raids must take their due course, in order to reach their logical conclusion, “without prejudice”.
It again reiterated that the Muslim community in South Africa does not condone any activities that either perpetrate or abet acts of terror.
“We shall continue to uphold and advocate for the rule of law in order to preserve the freedom and peace that prevail in the New South Africa and beyond,” said Maulana Ebrahim Bham.
“At the same time, we appeal to the media not to sensationalise these developments in a manner that has potential to fuel speculation and communal tension.”
In response to the arrests, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies says that it is not surprised, as no one is safe from ISIS influence.
The case against the two brothers is postponed to July 19, they remain in custody.