Two South African Muslims accused of having ties to the al-Qaida terrorist network say they will challenge the charge and are asking authorities to provide them with proof. The response follows a request by the U.S. government to place the two on a U.N. sanctions list. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Johannesburg.
South African Foreign Ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa Tuesday said his government is talking to the U.S. government about Washington's request to place two South Africans on the U.N. Security Council's list of people with suspected ties to international terrorism.
"We have been discussing with the American authorities on this issue," Mamoepa said. "We will continue to engage the American authorities regarding this matter and at this stage we are waiting for a directive from our Minister of Foreign Affairs on the way forward."
Officials say the U.N. Security Council Friday placed the two South Africans on the list after hearing charges that they are suspected facilitators and financiers for al-Qaida and the Taleban.
The two accused are Junaid Dockrat, a dentist from Johannesburg, and his cousin Farhad Dockrat, a cleric from the Pretoria area. They deny the charges.
Their lawyer, Shaheed Dollie, Tuesday told South African radio that he was asking the United Nations, the U.S. government and the South African government to provide evidence to support the charge.
"We believe it is a clear case of a mountain being made of a molehill. There is absolutely no truth," Dollie said. "The Dockrats have denied it and they have denied it since they have been approached with these allegations."
He says the molehill, or reason for the accusation, is most likely the men's ownership of a company that sells camouflage clothing for hunters. This type of clothing is also used by military and paramilitary groups.
The lawyer acknowledges Dr. Dockrat traveled frequently to Asia and the Middle East, but said this was for business and religious purposes.
Dollie says Dr. Dockrat has been under surveillance for three years.
"If in these three years the South African government and the United States foreign agencies have not been able to pin anything on Dr. Dockrat apart from speculative and wild allegations then there can be absolutely no truth to it," Dollie said. "In fact they would have acted far sooner."
The South African government has until Friday to object before the Security Council. If it does not object, the assets of the Dockrats will be frozen and their passports seized.