Johannesburg – The Jewish community will continue to be vigilant following revelations that schools and some individuals were listed as targets in a court indictment against twin brothers Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie.
In the indictment submitted to the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, the State lists 12 activities the twins were instructed to carry out – using firearms, explosives, and possibly poisons.
“In August 2015 [Tony-Lee] became a participant in a series of Telegram chats with Abu Fidaa, an ISIS network, and other persons whose real identities are unknown to the State, during which he was instructed to:
– Attack the best targets involving ‘US/Brit/French interest in SA’;
– Kill Zapiro who drew the Messenger of Allah cartoon;
– Kill Jews who fight in Israel and return to South Africa;
– Kill affluent Jews; and
– Kill gay imam, “as yet unidentified”.
Other targets included King David High School in Linksfield, Johannesburg, the UK High Commission, the embassies of the USA and Russia, the First Secretary of French Mission, Jewish investment banker Roy Topol, SA Zionist Federation Telfed, state-owned arms manufacturer Denel, Jewish community events and foreign interests at airports.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies said it was aware of the contents of the indictment and would continue to follow the case.
“The SA Jewish community is constantly vigilant against acts of terrorism, and will continue to be so,” national chairperson Jeff Katz said.
Caught by surprise
Terrorism was a global phenomenon and South Africa was not immune from it. SAJBD had confidence in South Africa’s law enforcement agencies and would work closely with them whenever asked, he said.
Cartoonist Zapiro, whose real name is Jonathan Shapiro, declined to comment.
The twins were arrested during raids in Newclare and Azaadville on the West Rand in July 2016.
According to their charge sheet, the brothers were allegedly linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State group and were allegedly planning to detonate explosives at a US embassy and “Jewish institutions” in South Africa.
The investigating officer found the twins had been active on social media prior to their arrests, allegedly discussing matters that could incriminate them.
Speaking on behalf of King David High School, Rabbi Craig Kacev, who is the director of the Jewish Board of Education, told News24 that authorities had alerted them to the matter during their investigations. It had caught the board by surprise.
“One never wants to be on the receiving end of potential alleged terrorist activity.”
‘One never knows’
He said the twin brothers were arrested shortly after the King David schools had begun upgrading their security.
“Our next phase of security had started in May and the Thulsie twins were arrested in July. So, in many ways, it vindicated the strategic position we had taken to move to the next level of security implementation in our schools,” he said.
The board sent a letter to parents on Tuesday, on the same day as the 23-year-old brothers made a brief appearance in court. It said they were working with authorities and would remain as alert as ever.
“One never knows,” Kacev said.
According to the indictment, the twins’ internet search histories included downloading “The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook”, “How to survive in the West – A Mujahid [Fighter’s] Guide”, “Muslim Gangs”, “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom”, and guides to making homemade explosives and silencers.
The matter was postponed to May 15 and would be transferred to the High Court in Johannesburg.