CAPE TOWN – State security services last month stopped a second Cape Town teenager from absconding to join the Islamic State group, South African State Security Minister David Mahlobo confirmed on Tuesday.
“Yes, we know about that one,” Mahlobo told ANA when asked about the high school girl from Grassy Park.
He said she was apprehended at Cape Town International Airport following a tip-off.
“The nice thing is that we are acting before these things happen,” he added.
“There are certain communities that are being targeted.”
It is understood that security services and the Hawks were in part acting on information given by a 15-year-old girl from Kenwyn who admitted that she was planning to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS) after she was taken off a flight from Cape Town to OR Tambo on Easter Sunday.
The girls are believed to be friends, and tried to leave the country within 10 days of each other.
Evidence found at the home of the first teenager, who comes from a well-off family, suggested that she had transferred R7,000 to a local bank account whose holder is not known to her family and had been in contact with IS recruiters on social media.
The quiet, studious Kenwyn girl, whose mother owns a medical practice in Grassy Park, is said by sources close to her family to be reluctantly co-operating with investigators.
The incident has seen Mahlobo warn repeatedly that parents should monitor their children’s internet usage, as he did again at a media briefing ahead of his ministry’s budget debate in Parliament on Tuesday.
Sonto Kudjoe, the director-general for state security, told the briefing: “We know for sure that at ISIS level they are targeting them young and they use cyberspace to do so,”
However, intelligence sources said they are also investigating the physical presence of recruiters for the jihadist group in the country.
Mahlobo said security agencies were being highly vigilant on the issue of recruitment by fundamentalist groups and staying in close contact with communities who are considered targets.
He said following the news of the teenager from Kenwyn’s attempt to make her way to the Middle East to join ISIS, several community groups had contacted his department to say they believed their children were being incited to do the same.
“When it was the question of Cape Town, we met with the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), we met with various people. We meet with a lot of people who are telling us, to say, ‘you know what, we have been dying in silence.
“Our children are recruited every day.”
Several European teenagers are reported to have died in Isis’s brutal campaign to establish a caliphate.
In March, the FBI, the domestic intelligence service of the United States, and that country’s Homeland Security Department issued a joint warning that Isis had been successfully recruiting American teenagers via social media networks.
In the same month, two Australian teenage brothers were stopped by airport security in Sydney as they attempted to join the group. Another 18-year-old Australian was successfully recruited by Isis and subsequently died in a suicide attack in Iraq.