No Al-Qaeda links to man arrested during shoot-out with police on 20 December 2010
29 Dec 2010
The South African Police Service (SAPS) is satisfied that - contrary to certain media reports - a suspect involved in a shoot-out with police members, during which a sergeant was wounded, on 20 December 2010 near the Velmore Hotel, has no links with the group known as al-Qaeda. On Monday, 20 December 2010 a group of six men arrived at the Velmore Hotel in a Nissan bakkie.
The police were called out after the hotel staff became suspicious of the conduct of the group. The suspects were confronted by the police who responded from Erasmia police station and one of the suspects refused to be searched. A struggle broke out between the suspect and a police official during which Detective Sergeant Richard Green was shot in the stomach. A shoot-out ensued, after which one suspect was arrested. The police recovered the Nissan bakkie, a pistol, cable ties and sharp objects which justify the suspicions of the hotel staff.
The following day front page newspaper articles reported that there was an "Al-Qaeda link in cop attack". A Pretoria daily suggested that Gauteng provincial police management suspected that the suspects were "part of a larger al-Qaeda network operating from South Africa" and had received "terrorism training in north-east Africa before they were sent to South Africa". Subsequent to these media reports, the South African Police Service (SAPS) Crime Intelligence Division, together with Organised Crime, has thoroughly investigated the allegations, which included a comprehensive debriefing of the suspect in custody, who admitted inter alia that he has never travelled outside South Africa.
Gauteng Provincial police spokespersons have categorically denied the claim by the journalist in question that they stated or even suggested that the suspects were part of the al-Qaeda network. The SAPS Crime Intelligence Division has concluded that no link exists between the arrested suspect and al-Qaeda. Although the journalist could have picked up speculation on the scene of the crime, the SAPS is of the opinion that it was irresponsible to make such wide-ranging claims - which has already attracted international attention and enquiries - without any confirmation whatsoever.
The suspect in question, 32 year old Tari Masuku, through fingerprints, was - at the time of his arrest - wanted in Rustenburg for armed robbery and in Wierdabrug for theft and offences relating to the Arms and Ammunitions Act. Preliminary investigations also link the group and the vehicle to other robberies in the area. This supports the view that the suspect is a "common criminal" and not a "trained al-Qaeda operative". Masuku appeared in court on 24 December 2010 in Atteridgeville and will appear again today, 29 December 2010. He remains in custody and his accomplices are still being sought by police.
Brigadier Sally de Beer
Cell: 082 779 8658
Tel: 012 400 6579 /6629 /6576
Fax: 012 400 7018
Source: South African Police Service
Issued by: South African Police Service
29 Dec 2010
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