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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Al-Qaeda using genuine South AFrican passports

July 28, 2004
Federal authorities are investigating a South African woman whom they say tried to board a flight near the US-Mexico border with an altered passport, amid reports that South African passports have ended up in the hands of terrorists. ....

South African officials have acknowledged that al-Qaeda militants and other terrorists travelling in Europe have obtained South African passports.

Authorities believe they got them from crime syndicates operating inside the government agency that issues the documents, and are working to counter the threat posed by illegal passports.

Barry Gilder, director general of the Department of Home Affairs, said he had come across a number of instances in which SA passports were found in the hands of al-Qaeda suspects or their associates in Europe - both in his current capacity and as a former deputy director in the National Intelligence Agency. ...

"We do not want our country to be used either as a staging post or haven for terrorists," Gilder said.

Officials say crime syndicates are selling SA identity documents and passports for as little as R500. ...

The fact that these were genuine SA passports, not forgeries, was of particular concern, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said. FR Reprint.

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