Johannesburg - The Department of International Relations and Co-operations has called on law enforcement agencies to investigate whether South Africans are fighting or being lured to join the Islamic State.
The department’s spokesman, Clayton Monyela, said he had not seen a YouTube video calling on people to join the jihadi militant group but said authorities should investigate the matter.
The group, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), has attracted the interest of a number of youth.
Isis, headed by a person identified as Abu Bakr Baghdadi, is calling for allegiance to the organisation and its claimed new caliphate.
The group has made headlines in the past few months for its brutal assassinations and murder of Christians and Yazidis, slavery of women and the recent capture of Lebanese soldiers.
They recently posted a 20-minute video, Eid Greetings from the Land of Khilafah (caliphate), on social media sites to coincide with Eid ul-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that celebrates the breaking of the Ramadaan fast.
In the video, posted on YouTube, a man claims to be South African and encourages his brothers to join them.
The man identifies himself as Shuaib from South Africa. His name is given as Abu Shuaib al-Afriki.
He talks while holding a child on his hip, who he identifies as his fifth daughter.
He says: “I’m your brother Shuaib from South Africa in the Khilafah, as you can see there is a big party going on.
“Today is Eid, I wish all the brothers from all over the world a happy Eid. My strong wish is to see you all here and celebrate Eid here where you will have safety, there is no better place to be.
“My children, this is my fifth daughter in the Khilafah, praise be to God. Brothers and sisters I don’t have the words to express myself about the happiness to be here. There is no word to describe it.
“This is the wish of all sincere Muslims to be in the Khilafah, to be part of the ummah (one world). The ummah of the Prophet (God willing). Move forward so that we can be one ummah holding hands.”
The propaganda video
opens with a sermon inside a mosque. Graphic images follow showing disturbing images of young children on the streets wielding weapons.
Then the video also shows Muslims from different countries – including Britain, Finland and Trinidad – proclaiming their faith and conveying Eid greetings.
They encourage their brothers to join the Khilafah.
Interspersed with the messages, shots of life in the Khilafah are shown, including young children holding guns and smiling.
Local Muslim organisations, however, doubt that the man is South African, and they are dubious of the video’s content. They have also condemned the IS attacks.
The South African Muslim Network’s Faisal Suliman said: “To date, most of what we have seen of Isis contradicts Islamic law and the rules of engagement in war. Isis does not represent the majority of Muslims. Any claims to Khilafah are a mockery of the concept of Islam. We denounce the attacks on people of other faith and religious institutions carried out by Isis.”
He said Isis had no basis for any claim to any Islamic leadership position.
“They do not represent Islam and certainly not Muslims,” said Suliman.
Moulana Ahmed Mahomedy, president of the Jamiatul Ulama KZN – Council of Muslim Theologians, said that they had received reports that IS had killed innocent people.
“Obviously being far away we have not independently verified these reports. However we echo the principal position of Islam, which is to condemn the killing of any innocent civilian,” he said.
He said he expected people not to link the person, allegedly a South African Muslim in the video clip, to South African Muslims without proof.
“The damage caused by such negative assertions cannot be undone by even a thousand apologies,” said Mahomedy.