Jean-Jacques Cornish

Young South African Muslims warned off Islamic State

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.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.