US alert on South African terror threat

The US on Tuesday warned its citizens in South Africa of a “specific, credible” threat.

The US embassy said on its website it had “information that extremists may be targeting US interests in South Africa, to possibly include US government facilities and other facilities identifiable with US business interests.

There is no additional information as to timing or potential targeting”. Americans were urged to increase vigilance and to follow any instructions they may get from South African authorities regarding their safety.

The Ministry of State Security’s spokesperson Brian Dube spoke to The Citizen late last night after flying to Cape Town, and said the Minister had “noted media reports relating to the statement issued by the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to South Africa relating to security concerns.”

“We confirm that there has been an interaction between ourselves and the U.S. authorities on this matter,” Dube said. “At this stage we can confirm that after verification of same by our law enforcement agencies, there appears to be no immediate threat or danger. We will however continue to monitor the situation, working with everyone including the U.S. authorities.”

Dube added the Minister wanted to reassure the public government would continue its efforts to ensure everyone’s safety. “We reiterate our resolve to work with members of the international community in creating a safer and secure world and to ensure that South Africa remains a safe destination for anyone who wishes to travel here,” Dube said.

US embassy spokesperson Cynthia Harvey said its department of state had no higher priority than the protection of its citizens. “When we receive specific, credible, non-counterable threat information, it is a standard practice worldwide for US embassies and consulates to issue Security and Emergency Messages such as the Security Message issued today by US Embassy Pretoria,” Harvey said.

The warning comes ahead of the anniversary of 9/11, a set of attacks in America on September 11, 2001 by Islamist extremist group al-Qaeda which killed nearly 3 000 people.

“The US government, as it does in any investigation into terrorist threats against American interests around the world, will cooperate with SA authorities,” Harvey said.

The US embassy in SA told its nationals to “be vigilant and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security”.