Muslim leaders in South Africa are urging their youth to resist being recruited to support Islamic State’s war in Iraq and Syria.
The country’s security services say they’re aware of the jihadis targeting South Africans but they’re not giving figures for the numbers that have actually been signed up.
In April a 15-year-old girl who said she was going to join IS was taken off a plane in Cape Town.
Turkish authorities say they’ve repatriated a dozen South African trying to reach Islamic State via their territory.
South African Muslim leaders say they know of at least eight families among the 23 South Africans now in IS hands.
Most of them have taken up humanitarian or administrative tasks.
However, at least two South Africans have died in battle in Syria.
Na’eem Jennah of the Afro-Middle East Centre warns against linking South Africa’s vociferous and politically active Muslim community with IS.
Muslims make up less than two percent of the South African population. But they clearly punch above their weight in terms of political representation.
Ten Muslim organisations issued a sermon read in South African Mosques last Friday warning youth attracted to IS that they risk jeopardising hard won freedoms South Africans enjoy.
South Africans recruited by IS contravene the Foreign Military Assistance Act.
This proscribes South African fighting for foreign countries. However, it hasn’t stopped South African mercenaries currently operating in Somalia, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
No-one has been tried under the Act brought in the ANC government.