It appears to be one of the numerous romance scams that plague online dating: Love-struck singles start online conversations or post intimate photos, only to be blackmailed or demanded for money when the conversation breaks down. (ISIS funding terrorism)
However, the con artists behind a new wave of “Tinder terror” that has ensnared lonely hearts on South Africa’s version of the dating app are not your typical love swindlers or con artists; rather, they are agents of Islamic State, which is funding its atrocities and insurgency campaigns across Africa with the proceeds.
According to Nischal Mewalall, head of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre, the group is using fake profiles with pictures of unknown actors or models to get victims. He also said that the group has bases in the most industrialized economy in Africa to do fundraising and recruiting.
The public has been urged to beware of scams by the watchdog, which typically begin when con artists remove the “dating” from official websites. Concern that South Africa has unwittingly become the engine of Isis’s renewal since its defeat in the Middle East is reflected in this trend. The United Nations Security Council stated in a report that its monitoring team had “detected a number of transactions of more than $1 million being channeled through South Africa by Isis leadership to affiliates in Africa,” which included terrorists in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The council was informed by Martin Ewi of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria that Isis had likely become the “future of the caliphate” and had “expanded its influence beyond measure” into Africa.
Last week, the US Treasury announced sanctions against four “senior members” of an Isis cell in the nation that was “emerging important for fund transfers from Isis leadership to Isis affiliates across Africa.” (ISIS funding terrorism)
The first post-pandemic Pride march was scheduled to take place in a Johannesburg business district that was the subject of an unusual warning from the United States last month about a possible terrorist attack. It was echoed by the UK Foreign Office, which advised Britons to avoid large gatherings.
Sources in the media were informed by American spies that a seven-strong Isis cell’s chatter had sparked the alert, which drew a harsh response from President Ramaphosa, who accused them of causing a pointless “panic” and “without having any type of discussion with us.” The warning, according to his intelligence service sources, had “disrupted” their own surveillance.
There was no attack, but that hasn’t stopped people from feeling anxious. Analysts stated that the Americans’ failure to share intelligence demonstrates a lack of faith in South Africa’s leadership.
Africa’s natural resources, tens of millions of people living in poverty, weak institutions, and porous borders have made it an ideal location for Isis to regroup. Ewi told the security council in August that the coalition forces that crippled Isis’s operations in Syria and Iraq did not pursue its fighters when they fled south, leaving Africa to “bear the consequences.”
South Africa is an ideal haven due to its excellent international connections and communications infrastructure, and its security structures were deliberately compromised during Jacob Zuma’s presidency to facilitate state looting.
Sources informed Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime investigators that the South African police have been left with just one officer who is responsible for analyzing data seized in terror raids.
Cases of kidnapping for ransom and extortion are on the rise. In the initial a half year of 2022, a normal of 1,143 kidnappings were accounted for to police, twofold the month to month normal of a similar period last year. (ISIS funding terrorism)
South Africa joining Turkey, Yemen, Syria, and Panama on the international financial watchdog’s “grey list” to combat money laundering and terrorism financing appears increasingly unlikely. Ramaphosa would have a harder time getting investment from abroad if the label were applied.
An early sign to South Africa’s enticement for fanatics was the situation of Samantha Lewthwaite, an English believer to Islam and widow of one of the 2005 London planes. She is thought to have assisted al-Shabaab in planning its 67-person attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in 2014.She was found to have been living in South Africa since at least 2008, but since Interpol issued an arrest notice in 2013, she has not been found.
Sources in intelligence say that a few South Africans have trained in camps in the Middle East, and dozens of them are fighting in a worsening insurgency in northern Mozambique, where Isis has taken advantage of a small area of conflict to strengthen its hold.
A region that has been relatively unaffected by Islamist extremism up until this point is put in danger by the chaos.
South Africa’s risk of becoming a terrorist target and its engine room are also increased by Ramaphosa’s deployment of troops to support efforts against jihadists in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.