Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, February 13, 2006

An intelligence coup
Today's news that South African intelligence officials were involved in thwarting an attempted bomb attack on the final of the African Nations Cup, where Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was in attendance, is exceptional both in its scale, and is implications for African intelligence gathering.

If successful, this would have been a huge terrorist attack, with the President, and 74 000 people at risk. Stadium bomb attacks are almost always messy, as the structures tend to have many vulnerabilities that lead to collapses. It would not be out of the bounds of possibility to say that thousands may have been killed.

We do not know whether these terrorists were sophisticated enough to pull of such a large-scale attack, or whether they were simply a group of bumbling wannabe’s. Nonetheless, their failure represents a distinct success for African intelligence services, with the security personnel from three countries involved, working together to catch the prospective bombers. This type of cohesion in intelligence and policing is a great advertisement for Africa’s renewed vigour to manage its internal affairs better, and should serve as a further statement of intent. Small as it is, incidences like this give me great hope for this continent.