While South Africa awaits authentic information on the arrest of its two citizens in Pakistan, our parliamentarians are busy refining clauses in the anti-terror legislation in an effort to circumvent COSATU’s opposition to it.
Strange bedfellows indeed. But as the plot thickens around the two and questions abound as to their involvement with America’s enemy number one, Osama bin Laden, many skeptics wonder whether the story itself is strange.
Based on unsubstantiated reports emanating from Pakistani spooks, parts of South African media adopted gutter journalism ala British tabloid style to predict doom and gloom for our bustling tourist industry.
With huge photos of “targets” such as the Union Buildings, Parliament, Sheraton Hotel and Ellis Park, under headlines screaming “SA Terror Plot”, the country choked on an overdose of Islamophobia. The reports took an even sinister turn with claims that police had known for more than a year about the pair’s alleged al-Qaeda “activities” and “targets”.
Since these disclosures by faceless sources about the arrest of Zubeir Ismail  and Dr Feroze Ganchi  along with al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani in Gujarat, Pakistan which allegedly involved several gunfights, neither the families of the pair nor SA diplomats in Islamabad have had any authentic account of their fate.
Strange therefore that while consular access has been denied to South Africa and amidst conflicting reports about whether the pair had in fact made confessions about a plot to blow up targets in Johannesburg, Pretoria and elsewhere, we are now told that agents of SA’s National Intelligence Agency [NIA] visited Pakistan and after “very limited access” to the detainees are able to confirm that no attacks were planned in SA.
Who then has been lying? And why?
The latest revelation by Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils while effectively refuting earlier “confessions” has not provided any further clarity on new “confessions”. Neither has the brief incursion by SA spooks into General Musharraf’s CIA holding pen provided details about the precise conditions of the pair.
An intriguing aspect of the entire shady arrest is the humiliation of having SA authorities “working” with Pakistan when the military junta of the Musharraf regime has flouted provisions of the Geneva Accord by denying SA consular access. Pakistan’s terrible human rights records, especially since the military coup which installed Musharraf into power and its role as the USA’s most faithful ally in America’s “war on terror” is indicative of geo-political fault lines.
In the maelstrom of America’s aggressive mood to crush and eliminate any or all opponents of its neocon agenda, South Africa must take note of former US Presidential nominee Patrick Buchanan’s description of his beloved homeland as a “democratic imperialist”.
In a new book dedicated to Ronald Reagan, “WHERE THE RIGHT WENT WRONG: HOW NEOCONSERVATIVES SUBVERTED THE REAGAN REVOLUTION AND HIJACKED THE BUSH PRESIDENCY”, Buchanan reveals how a neoconservative cabal allied with Israel’s right wing Likud Party has captured the American government and initiated a new crusade against Islam.
Some of the harsh realities which he lays bare ought to provide a fresh impetus to SA Ministry of Safety and Security to reassess the rationale for draconian laws masquerading as protection for constitutional democracy. That there is no need to turn the clock back to apartheid era laws which proscribed a legitimate freedom struggle as “terrorist”, is increasingly becoming clearer now that the dust has settled after 9/11.
After all it is evident that by looping into an international anti-terror crusade which is directed by a group with unbridled power to retain America’s permanent status of war against “terrorists” which is mere euphemism for legitimate freedom struggles in the Middle East and elsewhere, South Africa will –” like it or not –” become a de facto ally of the neocons.
This melting pot ignores the fact that al-Qaeda is not a state or a country. According to Buchanan, it is an NGO that rejects America’s decadent culture and opposes the US-Israeli alliance that brutally oppresses Palestinians to the shame of all Muslims.
Whatever the truth may eventually turn up regarding Ganchi and Ismail, the question remains: If any Muslim displays sympathy with the anti-imperialist sentiments of al-Qaeda, should they be incarcerated without due process of law and possibly end up in Guantanamo Bay?
Let South Africa be guided by its own interest, not by the neocons “Strategy for Israel”.