U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2005 - South Africa

South Africa publicly continued to support the global war on terror, and shared financial, law enforcement, and limited intelligence information with the United States. President Mbeki on several occasions voiced his opinion that "no circumstances whatsoever can ever justify resorting to terrorism." Members of Parliament from all political parties, including Muslim legislators, have echoed Mbeki's sentiments. South Africa, however, has resource constraints that limited the extent of its ability to fund its counterterrorist initiatives.

The South African Parliament adopted broad counterterrorism legislation under the title "Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Bill" on November 12, 2004. President Mbeki signed the legislation in April and put it into effect May 2. Both the ruling ANC and opposition parties in both chambers of South Africa's bicameral legislature supported the final version of the bill. The Act clearly defined terrorism and specifically criminalized terrorist activities in application of South Africa's international obligations. It also prescribed penalties of up to 15 years in prison or a fine up to R100 million ($18 million) for those convicted. Small revisions protecting the rights of strikers and protesters were inserted during final deliberation on the bill, which was regarded as a strong step forward in South Africa's counterterrorism efforts. Additionally, the government's Financial Intelligence Center, established in 2003, received 15,757 suspicious transaction reports between April 1, 2004, and March 31, 2005.

Fraudulent documents remained a significant problem for South African authorities. Although South African documents often contain good security measures, efforts to limit the accessibility of passports and identity documents to potential terrorists are limited by resources and corruption in the Department of Home Affairs.

The South African Government distinguishes between "terrorist organizations" and "liberation movements," as the ruling African National Congress was long branded a terrorist group during the struggle against apartheid. Popular attitudes generally reflect that distinction.

It is unclear to what extent terrorist groups were present in South Africa. Many analysts believed al-Qaida and other extremist groups have a presence within South Africa's generally moderate Muslim community for fundraising and other support activities. The South African Government did not extend diplomatic recognition or provide any material assistance to terrorists.


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