Johannesburg – Businesses in South Africa have allegedly been used as fronts to help forward the Iranian revolution, and there are jihad training camps at Zakariyya Park in Lenasia, and at a farm in Port Elizabeth and in KwaZulu-Natal.
This is according to a National Intelligence Agency document from January 2010, which looked at the Iranian Intelligence Service’s operations in South Africa.
The document is part of a large batch of leaked, classified documents from South Africa’s State Security Agency and some foreign spy agencies which were published on Al Jazeera on Monday night.
The document gives an overview on Iran’s activities in South Africa. Iran is a key supplier of oil to South Africa.
The document indicates that Iran tries to attract South African students to study religion in Iran.
It indicated that Iran’s focus on South Africa is “to increase its influence abroad by exporting Shia Islam and recruiting students for studies at Iranian institutions, and simultaneously wants to counter the Sunni influence in South and southern Africa.”
It also said Iran was “using students who previously underwent religious training or military training in Lebanon for covert collection and espionage activities. South African students also received religious training in Iran, and “front companies to disguise revolutionary Islamic activities are being utilised by these students to radically influence the Islam communities in many African countries”.
Aside from religious training, the secret document said Iran’s intelligence focus in the country was our policy towards Iran, the influence of radical Islam in South Africa, activities of Western countries in South Africa, the South African media – the names of publishing houses, news editors and journalists who report on the Middle East – nuclear technology, the South African mining industry and the armaments industry.
The armaments industry focused on unique designs which South African businesses had, including: procedures to upgrade the C130 aircraft; helicopter blade upgrades from metal to composite; the manufacturing of turbine blades; the design, development, testing and evaluation of missile systems; the pebble bed modular reactor; satellite interception; Thuraya interception; and microwave-link interception, among others.
The document, which blacks out the names of individuals involved, does identify Iranian agents in South Africa, one of whom was a businessman working in the oil refinery business and the carpet trade.
“Information obtained gives insight into the Iranian espionage threat against South Africa. It proves that these espionage activities are much broader than only espionage. Links between Iranian intelligence members and local extremist organisations and possible terrorist cells/ groups were confirmed,” the document said.
Some of the alleged front companies named were a religious organisation in Cape Town, a publishing company in Cape Town, a Persian carpet shop in Cape Town, a Persian carpet importer, two news agencies, a broadcasting agency and a guest house in Rosebank, Joburg.
As far as training camps went, in Zakariyya Park, Lenasia, there is allegedly regular training for South African Muslim students and foreigners for a possible jihad against US aggression in the Middle East.
On a farm in Port Elizabeth there are many Pakistanis attending training sessions, and a man who is known to have links with the Taliban in Afghanistan runs training in KwaZulu-Natal.
In a document from September 2010, a cable to the Secret Service Agency from Israel’s Mossad warns that there could be an imminent shipment of uranium from South Africa. The document alleges that Mossad received information that an Armenian broker was procuring yellowcake (a type of uranium concentrate powder) and they believed it would be from South Africa.