Saturday, July 2, 2022

DIS operation nabs 28 terrorism suspects

Twenty eight terrorism suspects were arrested by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services as part of a crackdown on groups feared to be raising funds and laundering money for Somali militant groups.

In a series of sweeps across Francistown and Dukwi, where refugees are kept, the intelligence services nabbed scores of Somali car dealers and their compatriots, some believed to be smuggling operatives into the country.

“They arrested a majority of them recently in Block One location in Francistown while others were arrested at Dukwi Refugee Camp,” a source said.

The principal terrorist threat in Somalia comes from al Shabaab, designated a terror group by the United States in February 2008. Originally, the militant wing of the Islamic Courts Union, the group imposes strict Sharia law in the southern territories it controls. It has claimed responsibility for several suicide attacks, including one in February 2009, which killed eleven Burundian soldiers in the deadliest attack on AU peacekeepers since their deployment. Scores of al Shabaab activists are reported to have gone through training conducted by al Qaeda in Somalia.

There are also suspicions that some of the money that is being collected as ransom by Somali pirates is being laundered through a network of Somali owned Japanese used car dealerships that are mushrooming throughout Botswana. A source close to the investigations would not disclose the specifics of the allegations against the 28 suspects.

It is, however, understood that some of them are illegal immigrants and a number of them have confessed to having links to terrorist groups. Sources described some of the suspects as quiet men who rarely leave their house in one of the impoverished locations in Francistown called Block One.

It is also understood that security agents searched a number of garages and are continuing to search suspicious properties across Francistown.

Under interrogation, a majority of the suspects confirmed their allegiance to some terror groups.
Information reaching the Sunday Standard is that there is a ring of Somali car dealers who traffic their fellowmen into the country illegally from countries as far away as Kenya and Somalia into the country. They then harbour the illegal immigrants and even assist them to open up businesses in the country. They also assist them to get proper travel documents Sources told the Sunday Standard that the operation has revealed that security agents had long planned the sensitive and secret operation last year.

Sources also revealed that the syndicates traffic illegal Somali immigrants into the country through haulage trucks. Reports indicated that some of the men carried visas stating that they are directors of non-existent companies and pretended to make a living from selling cars. It was further suspected that some of the men had carried out money laundering through their car dealership.

While there was no verified information from the relevant authorities, sources say some suspects entered the border by bribing corrupt police and customs officials.

“The suspects have since been sent to the Centre For Illegal Immigrants in Francistown. What happens is that there are a number of Somali immigrants in the country who traffic their fellowmen from countries such as Kenya and Somalia into the country via the Durban Port in South Africa. They pass through the border entry hiding in big haulage trucks making their way easily into the country,” our sources said.

Reached for comment, the DIS boss, Isaac Kgosi, would not deny or confirm the allegations, saying that they do not disclose their operations to the public.

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