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Terror claim angers muslims

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JOHANNESBURG – The arrests of two South Africans in Uganda on suspicion of terrorism has left the local Islamic community angered, frustrated and in fear for their safety.

The wife of one of the two South Africans who were arrested told The Citizen yesterday that she hoped her husband would return home safely.

Speaking to The Citizen, the angry and concerned woman, who did not want her name printed in the media, said that her husband, Haroon Saley, together with the Islamic cleric Mufti Hussain Bhayat, left for Kenya last week on Tuesday before heading to Uganda where they had been doing relief work.

“I am sitting here with four of our children waiting and hoping that Haroon is safe in Uganda,” she said.

Asked when last she had spoken to her husband, she said it was on Friday last week.

Saley, aged 56, is a community leader from Azaadville near Krugersdorp on the West Rand.

He is part of an organisation known as the Crescent of Hope which has been involved in humanitarian work since 1992.

The organisation also seeks to help people from impoverished communities by donating clothes food and carrying out skills training.

Bhayat is an Islamic cleric in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg.

Radio 702 reported yesterday that Bhayat’s son, Moaz, said the families of both men were struggling to get information about the pair’s well being.

Concern was also raised about the health of the two men as Bhayat is in need of chronic medication.

The duo were expected back in the country on Wednesday.

The secretary-general of the Islamic Council of South Africa, Ibrahim Bham, confirmed the arrests but said they were still waiting for verification from the Foreign Affairs Department before commenting on the matter.

He was on his way back from a project in Limpopo last night.

The Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa confirmed the arrests yesterday but said the circumstances around them were not known.

“Consular services have managed to confirm the arrests of the two men,” he said.

“At this stage efforts are underway to visit them in prison to offer them consular services.”

News of the arrests reached South Africa when an Ugandan source reportedly told Radio Islam that the two men had been detained on Sunday at Entebbe International Airport in Kampala, Uganda.

A government source also confirmed this, saying the duo were stopped by the Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force of Uganda.

The duo are reportedly being held by the Chieftaincy of military intelligence in Uganda.

(From on 2008/08/21 at 09:48:31 )