Farhad Dockrat, a Muslim cleric accused of being involved in training al-Qaeda operatives in SA, has hit back at reports.
A 48-point rebuttle denying any links to al-Qaeda was published in full in the Daily Maverick on Wednesday after a report on the site on Monday accused the Dockrat family of possibly being involved in terrorist activities.
Dockrat, who lives in the Eastern Cape, said there was “not an iota of evidence of any illegal activity by any South African Muslim on South African soil, which has/had the potential of threatening either the South African state, or any other foreign state for that matter”.
In a press release issued late on Tuesday, he denied all of the allegations against him in detail.
Dockrat said that the allegation that he handed R400 000 over to the al-Qaeda-linked Al-Ahtar Trust in 2001 was not new but had been recycled.
“None of the American authorities or Central Intelligenc Agency have been able to prove the allegation or give any evidence, let alone credible evidence, in support of the allegation. If the allegation was true, surely there could have been some evidence that could be brought forward. Why has it not been brought forward?” he asked.
He pointed out that the trust was only listed as a specially designated global terrorist entity by the US treasury department on October 14 2003, two years after the payment was alleged to have been made.
Dockrat said that prior to that it operated as a charitable organisation and orphanage, and it was permissible to donate funds to it.
A US proposal to have Farhad and Junaid Dockrat listed as international terrorists by the United Nations was blocked by South African government, which demanded to see evidence of the offence before agreeing to the listing.
At the time, the system for placing people on the US terrorist blacklist was criticised as being unfair, as the sanctions committee could refuse to present evidence for its decision.
Responding to allegations that he had tried to block his neighbour’s access to a water source located on his Greylock farm, Dockrat said that the dispute over the water rights went to court and that he won the case and was awarded costs.
Dockrat described journalist De Wet Potgieter, author of the exposé, as an “ex Vlakplaas reporter” and claimed that he was subject to a racist plot on the part of neighbouring farmers to exclude people of colour from farming in the area.
While there was an obstacle course, which allowed rope climbing and crawling through drums on his property, these were installed “openly and not covertly”, he said.
“How does that become illegal and how is that linked to al-Qaeda?” he asked.
Dockrat said he always made himself available to the South African government and would continue to do so to show he was not involved in anything “untoward or illegal”.
It is unclear whether the Dockrats are under an investigation and whether the state is considering laying any charges against them. The State Security Agency has declined to comment on the matter.
Farhad and Junaid Dockrat have been on a list of “specially designated nationals” compiled by the US treasury department’s office of foreign assets control (Ofac) since 2007.
Sniper Africa, also known as Sniper Outdoors, a retailer of camouflage gear and accessories designed for “outdoor enthusiasts and hunters” was also listed by Ofac at the same time. The company is majority owned by Junaid Dockrat.
Ofac enforces economic sanctions, including the blocking of assets and other trade restrictions, on countries and groups such as terrorists and drug traffickers.
State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele told Parliament on Tuesday he had evidence that South African citizens are linked to international terrorism organisations including al-Qaeda.
But Cwele was vague on the details of such links.
“Through our regular assessments, we’ve become aware that some South Africans are actively linked to some elements, which are linked to some terrorist activities elsewhere, particularly al-Qaeda.”
According to EyeWitness News, Cwele said that it was one thing to gather intelligence and another to make the evidence stand up in court.
This was echoed by National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke.
Makeke said there are three pieces of legislation that criminalise military or paramilitary tranining – the Criminal Law Second Amendment Act, the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act, and the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.
Between these three laws it is an offence to:
•undergo training in the conduct of military, paramilitary or similar operations;
•to receive training in the construction, manufactor or use of weapons, ammunition or explosives for the purpose of endangering life or causing serious damage to property; or to promote a political, military or paramilitary objective;
•to assist any such training or instruction;
•render foreign military assistance or training to a party to an armed conflict; and
•training a person to indulge in terrorist activity.
“Of course, the special elements of each offence would have to be proved before a contravention can be said to have taken place,” said Makeke.