IS Recruits Targeted U.S. Embassy in South Africa, Police Say

  • Suspects planned to strike Jewish institutions: police
  • Country’s malls increased security after IS alert in June

South Africa’s special investigations unit said it arrested identical twins who were planning to attack the U.S. embassy and Jewish institutions in the capital, Pretoria, in the first arrests of suspected Islamic State recruits in the country.

Two other suspects are being held on charges of illegally possessing ammunition, including stun grenades, the spokesman of the unit, known as the Hawks, Hangwani Mulaudzi, said by phone on Monday. The arrests over the weekend in Johannesburg were the result of an investigation that started last year, he said.

“We’ve been monitoring the movements of these four and on Saturday we were executing search warrants and that’s when we managed to seize some of the stuff that pointed directly to them, hence the decision to arrest them,” he said.

Some of the country’s most popular shopping malls increased security measures last month after the U.S., U.K. and Australian governments issued warnings of a heightened threat of attacks against foreigners in places such as Johannesburg and Cape Town. The U.S. State Department warned on June 4 that Islamist militants were planning assaults in South Africa’s biggest cities, possibly during the month of Ramadan, which ended last week.

The South African government said while it was aware of the security alerts, there was no immediate danger.

The four suspects appeared in court Monday. The twins have been remanded into custody until July 19, while the two other suspects are due to appear again on July 18, Mulaudzi said.

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