South Africa’s State agencies were monitoring cyberspace for recruitment by the Islamic State (ISIS), State Security Minster David Mahlobo said on Tuesday.
“International terrorism is the biggest challenge in the world, it is the challenge of our lifetime,” he said at a media briefing in Cape Town and Pretoria, via video-link.
“ISIS is a little bit sophisticated because in their own recruitment drive they are using cyber space… In terms of the world, there is no country where they are not recruiting.”
Describing the ISIS as promoting a “funny ideology”, he said state security agencies were monitoring cyberspace to stop them from trying to radicalise South Africans to their cause.
“In South Africa, there is work we are doing in terms of monitoring cyberspace, including social platforms,” he said.
Referring to the 15-year-old Cape Town girl pulled off of an international flight on her way to reportedly join ISIS, Mahlobo said that if state security agencies had not been doing their job, the girl could have left the country.
“If the police and state security agencies had never done our work, that child could have left,” he said.
“The child that was trying to get out of this country, we intervened.”
Earlier at the same media briefing, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the recruitment of young people to take part in acts of terror was a growing global concern.
“The JCPS [Justice, Crime Prevention and Security] cluster will not allow South Africa to be used as a recruitment platform for terror groups. We wish to reiterate our resolve to ensure that South Africa remains a place where people feel and are safe,” she said.
“We want to sound a note of caution to all South Africans not to lend themselves to terrorist activities.”
Against the background of the 15-year-old being stopped from joining ISIS, government encouraged the community at large, and parents in particular, to be cautious and concerned about what activities their children might be involved with.
“Cyber technology has proven itself to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it enables development, whilst on the other hand, greater internet accessibility poses major risks, especially for children,” the defence minister said.
“Parents should take an extra effort to monitor their children’s online activities. Parents and guardians need to know who their children are chatting with. They need to know what websites their children visit. We need to keep our children safe.”