Terrorists? What terrorists? : South Africans have turned a US terror warning into a punch line. Mostly making jokes at their president’s expense. (Photo: DonkeyHotey via https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/)
South Africans are unfazed by a warning from the United States government that the so-called Islamic State is planning to attack “upscale shopping areas and malls” where “U.S citizens congregate”. The travel alert to US citizens says an attack could happen in the “near term” and the terrorists and would most likely hit prominent targets in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
If social media reactions are any gauge, the warning that a terror attack on South Africa is imminent has largely been shrugged off. The general consensus is the US has got it wrong. Conspiracy theorists are also having a field day pointing to the terror alert as proof of their thesis that the US is secretly scheming to destabilize South Africa and take over its resources.
Mostly though, there are jokes, lots and lots of jokes.
Conspiracy theorists are also having a field day
An abundance of caution
Some South Africans though feel this is not the time for jokes. Given the carnage and misery that terrorists groups like IS have wrought on other countries in Africa, this group feels the terror warning from the US government should be taken seriously out of an abundance of caution.
Some South Africans though feel this is not the time for jokes
Been here before
Part of the reason for the nonchalance is we’ve here before. The US issued a similar terror alert on South Africa in September last year and, thankfully, nothing came of it. Though IS has called on its adherents to carry out attacks around the world during the holy month of Ramadan , the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) says credible sources contacted by it indicate “there is no specific intelligence suggesting an attack in South Africa during Ramadaan”.
The possibility of an attack this time around appears to be serious enough for the British to review the travel warning to its own citizens planning to go to South Africa.
“There is no need to panic”
David Mahlobo, South Africa’s Minister of State Security, has issued a statement saying there’s no reason to panic because the alert issued is “part of the US government standard precautionary communication to its residents”. “We remain a strong and stable democratic country and there is no immediate danger posed by the alert”, he said.
The minister’s statement hasn’t inspired much confidence. In fact, for some, its more reason to worry.