Indian-Origin Woman, Partner Held For Kidnap, Alleged Links to ISIS in South Africa

first_imgAn Indian-origin woman named Fatima Patel and her partner Safydeen Aslam Del Vecchio were arrested and brought before court recently at Vryheid, South Africa, in connection with the disappearance of a British couple. Patel and Del Vecchio are also facing terrorism charges for their alleged links with the Islamic State group.Patel and Del Vecchio were charged with robbery, theft, possible murder, and contravening the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorism and Related Activities Act for hoisting an ISIS flag at a modest homestead in a rural area, the Sunday Times reported quoting the chargesheet mentioned on their court appearance. Del Vecchio further faces charges for his alleged participation in extremist web forums that support ISIS and offering to supply phone numbers and sim cards that are not traceable.The robbery charges against the two are due to allegations that they used the British couple’s credit cards to get jewelry, camping equipment and electronic devices that were found at the location where the ISIS flag was hoisted.The details of how the missing couple met the pair have been unclear, the Times Select reported.The British couple had checked into the bush lodge at KwaZulu-Natal, three days after leaving Cape Town.  The couple stayed only one night, an employee at the lodge was reported as saying. They reportedly paid in cash and left in a hurry.It is unclear whether the couple is alive or dead. Their vehicle was found 300 km from the bush lodge, where they were last seen on Feb. 9.  Due to the sensitive nature of the case, the South African elite police Hawks have refused to divulge more information.Yousha Tayob, the lawyer representing  27-year-old Patel and 38-year-old Del Vecchio, confirmed their appearance in court. They have been remanded in custody at Westville Prison in KwaZulu-Natal province. Patel was earlier arrested along with her brother Ebrahim in July 2016 in counter-terrorism raids, Times Live reported. Police had seized 20 rounds of ammunition and a stun grenade from her residence back then. She had been out on bail until she was arrested again. The 2016 case is still awaiting judgement.According to sources quoted by TimesLIVE, Del Vecchio and Patel were found in possession of Islamic State recruiting material as well. The report quotes Hawks spokesman Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi as saying that during their surveillance of Patel and her partner, operatives had gathered information allegedly linking them to the missing British couple.This incident prompted the UK government to issue a travel advisory about possible terrorist attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa. They released a statement on Feb. 19, saying: “Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in South Africa. Attacks could be indiscriminate‚ including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in major cities. The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). In February 2018‚ two South African-British nationals were kidnapped.” Related ItemsISISSouth AfricaTerrorismlast_img read more