Leaked spy documents reveal plot to kill African Union head

The African Union chairwoman is “safe and sound,” the organization said on Thursday, after leaked intelligence documents revealed a 2012 plot to assassinate her.

South African and Ethiopian spies intercepted a plot to kill Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma soon after she was elected as head of the African Union in October 2012, according to leaked classified documents published by Al-Jazeera and the Guardian newspaper.

The AU leadership was “most grateful” that countries had co-operated to save the South African’s life at the time, the regional organization said in its statement.

An “unnamed state” was behind the plot against Dlamini-Zuma that was supposed to take place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, where the African Union is headquartered, according to the documents from that time. Ethiopian spies suspected Sudan of being behind the plot, but found no reports of action against Sudan, Al-Jazeera reported.

On Oct. 22, 2012, South African intelligence received information of an “eminent threat” to Dlamini-Zuma’s life, the documents revealed. Additional bodyguards were deployed, and though the threat was never carried out, the documents also revealed that Ethiopian and South African agencies were ill-prepared if the attack did take place, reported Al-Jazeera.

Dlamini-Zuma’s bodyguards were also forced to sleep in a hotel corridor, unarmed, for four days during that time, with no accommodation or food arranged for them, according to the documents. Dlamini-Zuma is a prominent South African politician and the former wife of current President Jacob Zuma.

The series of leaked documents, many of which carry South Africa’s official seal and were reproduced on Al-Jazeera’s website, have revealed a state security agency weakened by political factionalism and under pressure from other security agencies.

South Africa’s State Security Minister, David Mahlobo, said an investigation was underway to determine how the leak happened.