SATAC Members’ Predictions For 2019

Each year we ask our SATAC members what they think the new year holds for SA in particular regarding security and terrorism – these are our 2019 predictions

(NS) We will continue to see rise of the paramilitaries in the US with lone wolf attacks increasing with school shootings, and attacks on religious institutions and communities.
I see 2 ISIL related attacks in France, 2 attacks in the UK, 1 in Australia
with South Africa building up for at least 1 (based on the noise in the news recently).

(DD) Domestic events could be interesting around election time but internationally, there hasn’t really been a ‘big one’ for some time so is this the year?

(H) Nigeria is very much going to be an arena to watch. The elections are going to take away resources and focus off Boko Haram, allowing more attacks deeper into the South…..further than just Abuja.
In Uganda, we might see rebels going over the border from the DRC, threatening Uganda’s fragile democracy, increasing the impact from Ebola.
Kenya would further be an area of interest since we have seen continuous attacks in Lamu. Al Shabaab losing foothold in Mogadishu will want to reaffirm their position as a credible threat!

(AB) Locally I think we will see a bombing of a political party’s office or an assassination of one of the leaders. There are enough people with nothing to loose.

(AG) I look forward to the outcomes of the 3 pending ‘ISIS sympathisers’ terror trials and the reportage. But I fear that we won’t be given the level of case details that is released overseas, fuelling further speculation rather than aiding factual analysis.
Depending on the outcomes, other ‘Lone Wolves’ may feel emboldened to have their ’15 minuets of fame’.
There is also the possibility that our State Capture Commission of Enquiry may reveal terror funding or money laundering, as these were new opportunities for those who are now being revealed as criminals in suits, luxury cars and mansions.

(SB) Predictions, made within a global VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) context:
1) USA no longer world policeman – Russia & China will handle that as US troops return home.
2) A flow of wealth and power from west to east.
3) corporate interests from Canada, US, UK, Saudi, China, Russia will compete for identified natural resources throughout Africa using proxy armies and intel. with pushback by local communities.
4) Global financial reset, the end of Petro$ and gold backed $s, with a worldwide Rothschild central bank implosion.
5) Mass arrests worldwide re. corruption, financial terrorism, human trafficking at an industrial scale including what appears to be a purge & martial law in the USA, France and UK all programmed by social media.
6) New exotic weapons such as ‘nation killer’ hypersonic missiles that travel @ mach 20 and space-based directed energy weapons render traditional war machines obsolete.
7) Venezuela at war with Brazil, Columbia and Argentina.
8) Increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks on individuals and organisations involving data dumps and Doxxing causing reputation damage.

In Southern Africa
1) Mosques, synagogues and other religious or public spaces such as shopping malls attacked as these provide powerful and cheap media coverage.
2) kidnap and blackmail of key corporate execs and damage to brand assets.
3) Some ‘signature event’ leading up to the May elections.
4) Emergence of the social-media enabled African info-warlord.
5) Organised cyber & physical attacks on infrastructure and reputation
6) ISIS and Al-Shabaab inspired franchises & methods growing in Mozambique and spreading to adjoining countries.
7) The growth of paramilitary armies for-hire.


(JM) Russia: I would keep a close eye on Russia, their involvement within other nations, and how they have mastered the art of being involved without appearing to be involved.

France: The local radical attacks have increased throughout the last 2 years, I suspect that in 2019 all foreigners living and visiting France will be under close watch, but I feel that they might slip through the watchful eye of Intelligence.

Mozambique: The radical attacks in the northern province will either spread down the east side, or the government will take a drastic stance along with help from other countries to stand up against local attacks.

USA: I personally feel that Trump has caused enough conflict within the local government that his impeachment will happen in 2019, which will stop or delay any planned attacks in the US.

(Editor’s personal note: Whilst I agree that Trump might be impeached we do not know if this will be at the behest of the Democrats in Congress, or the Meuller or other investigations, which would not affect Radicalised persons, or the WH Hawks who want to continue the fight against ISIS/L in Syria etc., which may well spur ‘IS’ supporters into acts of terror)

(SB2) 1. There will be a major conflict event in South Africa. Terror, crime, civil, political – I can’t say. But wait for it.
2. I predict that Trump and Putin will find common ground. Some “contract.”
3. A major shift in stability, somewhere in Europe.
4. Another major mass shooting in the USA.
5. A new wave of conflict coming out of the USA, because of the US withdrawal.
6. A major scientific or Astronomical announcement. New planet, alien life, a new understanding.
7. A financial shift – boom, crisis or upheaval – probably around the oil issue.
8. An assassination somewhere. Not sure where, but at high level.

(JH) USA and Russia will buddy up against China….

(GB) Sees top executives being targeted for kidnapping operations as it becomes harder to do this in First World countries.

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SATAC Special Report: The Verulam Eleven

The Verulam Family Court heard on 22 Oct 2018 that eleven men accused of the May fatal attack at a KwaZulu-Natal Shia mosque and planting several incendiary devices at Durban shopping centres have links to the so called Islamic State (ISIS). The accused are from South Africa, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

The court heard that during their arrests, the men were found in possession of an ISIS newsletter and a manual on how to make bombs and carry out assassinations, as revealed in an affidavit that Warrant Officer Benedict Chonco of the Hawks presented in opposition to the men’s release on bail. W.O. Chonco revealed that some of the 11 men were positively identified for the Imam Hussein Shia Mosque attack in Verulam and for the planting of bombs at major Durban shopping centres.

Chonco also stated that CCTV footage at the Woolworths stores placed some of them at the scenes where incendiary devices were planted and that a white Hyundai Getz and VW Polo Vivo, allegedly used in the mosque attack and a Woolworths store in Gateway in Umhlanga, were registered to accused number one, businessman Farhad Hoomer of Durban.

Hoomer was identified as the leader of the group and his house in Reservoir Hills was used for training the group for more than a year and a device similar to the bomb used in the mosque attack and those found at Woolworths stores was found at Hoomer’s home. He is also the owner of the house where a victim was found kidnapped.

Hoomer’s cellphone location was linked to the mosque attack in Verulam and the three victims of extortion in the matter had had previous dealings with Hoomer – each had received a threatening SMS demanding about R1 500 000.

Hoomer and his co-accused, Mohamad Akbar‚ Ndikumana Shabani, Seiph Mohamed‚ Amani Mayani‚ Ahmed Haffejee‚ Thabit Mwenda‚ Abubakar Ali‚ Abbas Jooma‚ Mahammed Sobruin‚ and Iddy Omani applied for bail.

They face 14 charges including murder, attempted murder, arson, extortion and the violation of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act. Magistrate Irfaan Khalil postponed the case to the 24th for the defence’s replying affidavit.

It would appear that this was a criminal conspiracy that took advantage of the fear of ISIS terror to motivate victims’ compliance and to obfuscate the motive for the attacks.

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Murdered in KZN, UK Botanists’ Credit Card used in attempt to buy Bitcoin

In July Dutch intelligence authorities arrested a man, identified as Mohammed Ghorshid, trying to buy bitcoins with a credit card stolen from the murdered Saunders couple, botanists from the UK. Ghorshid was on the watchlist of Dutch intelligence because of his Islamic State links.

The credit card connected Ghorshid with Sayefudeen Del Vecchio, 38, and his wife Fatima Patel, 27, who were arrested at their home in northern KwaZulu-Natal in February. They were later charged in the same Verulam magistrate’s court with murdering the Saunders couple.

The Verulam mosque attack was, according to current Court reports, planned and carried out by up to 11 men following guidelines in an Islamic State newsletter on how to threaten and extort money from non-believers.

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Key focus of terror attacks & terrorist activities

Based on an analysis of terror attacks worldwide we see the following focus of terror attacks. Knowing the typical target areas  helps to assess your own anti-terror responses and mitigate dangers.

  • Explosive/incendiary devices
  • Shootings and close quarter knife/acid etc. attacks
  • Chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) devices/attacks
  • Kidnappings – political/revenge/prisoner exchange/fund raising
  • Surface to air missiles (in conflict zones)
  • Access information that may be of use to them: Hacking, spoofing, mallware, ID theft
  • Radicalisation
  • Network/cyber attacks, hacking, spyware, ransomware, reputation attack
  • Fund raising through criminal activity: Drugs, arms, CIT(Cash-In-Transit)  raids, bank robberies, extortion etc.
  • Money laundering

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South Africa: Terrorism Statistics 1970 to present

The following charts are drawn from the Global Terror Database GTD and include Terror attack types, weapons used in terror attacks, casualties and targets in South Africa since 1970.

South Africa: Terror Attack Type
South Africa: Terror Attack Weapons used
South Africa: Terror Attack Targets
South Africa: Terror Attack Casualties


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Durban explosive devices: Why Woolworths?

A SATAC ANALYSIS  13 July 2018
Prelude: The Verulam attacks

1. On Thursday 10 May 2018, three knife-wielding men stormed the Imam Hussain (Shia) Mosque after midday prayers and attacked Moulana Ali Nchiyane before torching the mosque’s library by throwing in a petrol bomb. Abbas Essop, a mechanic at a workshop across the road, ran into the Mosque. When Abbas intervened, the attackers. He died in hospital and became a collateral casualty in the attack‚ believed to be motivated by “extremist elements” intent on killing the resident Moulana and razing the building to the ground.

2. On the night of Sunday 13 May, a suspected bomb or Improvised Explosive Device was discovered beneath the Moulana‘s chair. Initial reports were sketchy with a poor photo made public and described the device as a PVC pipe bomb with a cellphone attached. Later the authorities described it as an Incendiary Device although the chemical composition has not been released at the time of writing. As of yet no motive for the attacks has been established and no group has claimed responsibility

The Woolworths – and Durban July – incidents

3. On Thursday 5 July an almost identical incendiary device to the Verulam one ignited amongst clothing in a Woolworths retail store 34 Km by road south of Verulam at the Durban Westville Pavilion shopping centre at approximately 01:30.

4. A few hours later yet another almost identical device ignited 22 Km by road north at the Durban Umhlanga branch of Woolworths. In both cases the damage was minimal thanks to the sprinkler system.

5. On Saturday 7 July, a very similar device was found in the cushions display at, once again, the Durban Westville Pavilion Woolworths.

6. Later that day, ljust after 10pm, officers were dispatched to Gladys Mazibuko (formerly Marriott) Road in central Durban where a “device” was found under a vehicle”.

7. Just over an hour later they were called out to the corner of Avondale and Milner Roads, central Durban, where another device was found under a car. Neither device detonated/ignited but visually were very similar to the Verulam device and the two Woolworths devices, although curiously one was painted purple.

The location of these incidents may be relevant as they were very close to the perimeter of the Grayville Race Course where that weekend the most prestigious horse race on the SA calendar, the Durban July, was in mid swing.

8. On the morning of Monday 9 July a suspicious device was reported at the Pavilion Centre in Westville. With the basement area cordoned off the police quickly determined that this was not a bomb or a hoax but a lost piece of electronics – a false alarm due to increased awareness and vigilance.

9. On the same afternoon the South African Police Services’ Explosives Unit was called to the Spar Supermarket in Austerville‚ Wentworth‚ Durban, after a ten year old boy arrived at the shop and gave a manager a brown envelope containing one live 9mm round and a handwritten letter. The letter stated that the recipient must put money inside the bag and leave it outside the supermarket otherwise a bomb will explode – and not to call the police.
The boy who delivered the letter alleged that it was given to him by unknown male to deliver. The manager took the envelope to the police station, accompanied by the boy. The police attended, cordoned off the scene and when the bomb disposal unit arrived a black plastic packet was found on the entrance near the tills containing a parcel. This was detonated under control of the bomb unit and declared a hoax.

10. On the morning of Thursday 12 July a bomb scare was phoned in to the police targeting Woolworths at Cornubia Mall in the Mount Edgecomb area of Durban. The SAPS bomb squad swept and no devices were found. The mall was reopened three hours later.

11. Less than an hour later hundreds of tenants of a 23-storey building in central Durban were evacuated following a bomb threat phoned in to a college on the seventh floor. Students due to write exams have been known to phone in bomb threats to postpone the exams if they are not prepared. The SAPS declared the call a hoax.

12. That afternoon a bomb scare was phoned in to Phoenix (Durban area again) police station – this time claiming that 3 devices had been planted. After being closed for about 2 hours the bomb squad declared the threat a hoax and the Hawks promised a swift prosecution.

Ten arson bombs, attempts or threats in seven days in a country that normally does not experience that in a year – never mind in one city. The last time we saw something like this was the PAGAD bombings and shootings of 1999/2000. And no motive or claim for responsibility. What is going on?

SATAC Analysis

The Verumam Mosque attacks are believed to be isolated religious rivalry incidents and even though the Muslim community are involved and the incidents well publicised ISIS/L remained uncharacteristically silent. Serious observers suspect no link to organised terrorism.

However, the publicity, including a photograph of the device – it did not detonate – has probably triggered a spate of copycat incidents. All of the components can be obtained in a hardware store and a cellphone shop new, without arousing suspicion for about SAR 300 (US$20) and assembled in 30 minutes.

So someone in the Durban area used the now well-known design to target Woolworths. But why?

Without a threat or demand we can rule out extortion – unless this is a test phase – or giving management a taste of what could happen.

Could it be a deranged, unhappy customer?
Or a seriously disgruntled employee or ex-employee?
Could it be a criminal distraction – diverting store security whilst stealing? If so one would expect the loss to have been detected by now as it would have to be significant to do this. Also the timing, – 01:30 in the morning – seems to eliminate this motive.
Or a bigger criminal plot – testing police response times and procedures.
Or a grand criminal plot, like the CIT heist which took place on Tugela Plaza, near Durban, on the 11th, by diverting the police to a ‘bomb’ on the other side of the city (actually there were no bomb threats that day).

At the time of writing we don’t know much:
We don’t know if the cell phones were being used as remote controls or timers.
We don’t know if the devices that had not ignited had failed or had not been triggered.
We don’t know if the rigging and formulations link these devices together or with others.
We don’t know if there were fingerprints found, CCTV recordings of use or other evidence from which we could probe the conspiracy theories.

Hopefully the authorities will help us to reduce unhelpful speculation by giving us some feedback.

Woolworths are not an elitist store but are the favourite up-market supermarket of the better-off and SA’s new, aspiring middle class. Could this be a crime of envy? This theory could be supported by the attempts to set fire to the two cars near the up-market Durban July. Remember, one of the devices was painted purple – the colour that represents royalty and privilege.

Could it be anti –Semitic? The company was founded by and until about 2010 was controlled by Jewish families – perhaps linked to recent Israili-Palestinian conflicts?

In early August 2014 a group called BDS South Africa launched the peaceful and largely ineffective #BoycotWoolworths campaign in protest to the store stocking Israeli products. And in September 2015 thousands protested in Cape Town, waving Palestinian flags near the entrance of Grand West Casino in the build-up to Grammy Award-winning artist Pharrell Williams’s concert. The protest was given the green light after BDS scored a victory when a High Court application, aimed at preventing them from getting 40 000 protesters to the event, was dismissed. Williams came under fire for collaborating with Woolworths.

But Woolworths are low profile on such issues and certainly a not political organisation. BDS give no indication of moving towards extremism and are the kind of organisation that need and want publicity, so if they were behind the attacks they would at least ‘support’ the disruption of the stores.

Would business rivals benefit from that disruption? Marginally, and not enough to justify the risk and cost of being caught. Not unless the rival was also a sociopath – not concerned with the long term consequences of his or her actions.

Or simply a person who likes to create chaos and likes to see the result of his or her ‘work’ on the TV and in social media?

Or pranksters.

The extortion attempt on afternoon of the 9th at the Spar supermarket was most probably a petty crook inspired by the previous fear, someone hoping for a quick ‘score’.

And the hoax calls on the 12th? Hopefully the police will be able to trace the calls but with no physical evidence we have nothing to suggest that they are linked to the three actual devices left at Woolworths – although if the desired effect is disruption, these calls were almost as effective as the pipe bombs.

And finally, the hoax call to the Phoenix police station? Again, using the heightened awareness and the uncertainty created by the four (including Verulam) real devices to force the police to evacuate their premises. A great win for someone who needs to prove his ‘power’ to himself – or just a prankster?

Whatever the real reasons are for these events we can be fairly sure that they are not linked to organised terrorism.

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SABC interview: Andrey Grudko of SATAC on explosive devices in Durban

There was yet another bomb scare in Durban Thursday. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated from a 23 storey building. This was only hours after police had to conduct a sweep at a local mall after another threat which later turned out to be a hoax. Police have discovered a series of explosive devices in the city and no arrests have yet to be made. To discuss this further, we’re joined by Andy Grudko, who is the Director of the South African Terrorism Analysis Centre.

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Mozambique & Zimbabwe Border Insurgencies

USA Warns of imminent attacks in Mozambique –

US Embassy security alter June 8th 2018 –

Cabo Delgado, Boko Haram Islamist Extremism –

Seven arrested for possession of explosives after crossing betbridge borderpost from Zimbabwe –

Mysterious Insurgency in Mozambique –

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SABC News Interviews SATAC director Andy Grudko

09:05 on morning of 30 May SABC NEWS CH 404 broadcast a 9 minutes interview with SA Terrorism Analysts Centre Director, Andy Grudko on the impact of SA’s violent crime on CR’s attempts to raise overseas investment.

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