Security minister on the hunt for recruits
Johannesburg - Young South Africans, the intelligence community wants you.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo is calling on the youth to join the intelligence academy for training as spies.
The State Security Agency is to enrol 200 young people this year at the academy, established in North West 10 years ago.
Interviewed this week after his budget vote, Mahlobo said candidates had to complete a rigorous screening process. This was to ensure the service recruited the best possible candidates.
He said the focus was to train young operatives in economic intelligence, a field that was critical in a developing nation.
Members of the intelligence services visit schools and universities to encourage young people to consider pursuing a career in this field.
Mahlobo insisted that South Africa was safe from any possible threat, from within and without.
“The serious security threats we have observed in the past few years have been mainly in East Africa, and have been because of al-Shabaab,” he said.
The Somali Islamist group has links to al-Qaeda and has launched a number of attacks in Kenya, the most recent of these on Garissa University, where almost 200 people, most of them students, died.
Mahlobo said that in North Africa, al-Qaeda was a threat to security and, in West Africa, Boko Haram.
In central Africa it was the militias fighting for resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere in the region.
Southern Africa was fairly stable, but no one was immune from attacks, said Mahlobo.
The region had early warning systems about any potential terrorist threats, he said.
Intelligence officers in southern Africa shared information about terrorist networks and other threats.
South Africa was also involved at the UN Security Council level in sharing information about terrorist threats.
Mahlobo said South Africa should not become a breeding ground for terrorists.
Terrorist groups were using social media to pass on messages and to recruit new members, he said.
They were careful in planning their operations.
The best thing for South Africa was to follow terrorists’ funding paper trail, Mahlobo said.
Once their avenues of funding were closed, terrorist groups would not be able to function.
Funders were key in their operations, making it possible for them to go after their targets.
“We are tracking financial flows so that there is no money that is transferred to be used for terrorism,” said Mahlobo.
The government was to tighten up its financial laws to make it difficult for terrorist groups to move money from one account to another.
The SSA was working with the Treasury and the Financial Intelligence Centre to monitor the illicit flow of cash.