The bail application against 11 ISIS terror suspects have been adjourned until the end of the month, with all claiming innocence, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.
‘Police framed me’ – that is the core defense of one of 11 men accused of being part of an ISIS cell that blazed a trail of terror in Durban, including the murder of a worshipper at the Imam Hussein mosque in Ottawa on the Kwa-Zulu Natal North Coast.
Tanzanian national, Thabit Mwenda – who claimed he is an imam – was applying for bail in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, along with 10 other co-accused.
The others are wealthy businessman Farhad Hoomer‚ Ahmed Haffejee‚ Mohamad Akbar‚ Seiph Mohamed‚ Amani Mayani‚ Abubakar Ali‚ Abbas Jooma‚ Mahammed Sobruin‚ Ndikumana Shabani and Iddy Omani.
The suspects face allegations that they were co-conspirators in the attack on the Imam Hussein Mosque where a worshipper, Abbas Essop had his throat slit, including a spate of bomb scares at departmental stores, including Woolworths. Some were triggered and caused minor fires which resulted in a number of stores temporarily closing their doors because of anonymous bomb threats.
The accused face charges of murder‚ attempted murder‚ arson‚ extortion and the violation of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.
Meanwhile, the Mwenda’s defence is that when a group of policemen arrived at the Reservoir Hills home where he was staying, they ordered him into a room where there were unpacked boxes. The police team leader picked up an empty packet. At that juncture, he was distracted by the cry of a child in the house, and when he focused again, he saw the policeman place something in the bag.
Advocate Sinthamanie Naidu, who is representing Mwenda, told the court: “He was distracted by the cries of his child and when his focus returned to the packet‚ it appeared as if something had then been placed inside it. The team leader then used his bare hands to remove a ‘device’‚” said Naidu.
Advocate Naidu questioned why if an incendiary device was discovered, the Hawks – who raided the house – did not immediately evacuate the premises which should be normal procedure.
“Surely all of the police and the accused would have been removed from the house on the basis of safety alone?, ” she questioned.
The house in questioned when ISIS material were found belongs to businessman Farhad Hoomer‚ alleged to be leader of the group.
Advocate Jimmy Howse‚ acting for Hoomer‚ said that the case against his client was tenuously weak, adding that charges were based on “sensationalism” and mere speculation.
The defense teams told the court that there were irregularities with the ID parade and that the evidence against the accused was mostly circumstantial.
Meanwhile Ahmed Haffejee denied any involvement with ISIS, except that he was unwittingly placed on a WhatsApp group called Jundullah – which means “Soldiers of God”. He had never posted any messages on that group.
He further contended that ISIS-linked literature found on his electronic devices did not mean he supported any terrorist organisation. “People read inflammatory material out of curiosity while not necessarily agreeing with it,” Haffejee added.
However, he admitted that he was somewhat known as a “media activist” and a “keyboard warrior” – and nothing more.
At certain times, he said “comments were made to purely provoke strong and healthy debate, especially on topics relating to the crisis in the Middle East.”
State advocate Adele Barnard’ said the case against accused were so serious – and should the matter go to trial – it should be heard in the Durban High Court.
Magistrate, Irfaan Khalil adjourned the bail application until the end of the month to give a verdict on whether the accused be granted bail or not.