A couple weeks ago, I ran across a strange story about Zimbabwe: a couple of known terrorists were caught crossing the border from Zimbabwe into South Africa at Beitbridge.

33 year-old Imran Muhammad…was arrested last Sunday while trying to get through Beitbridge border post to South Africa on what officials believe was a fake Kenyan passport.

He was traveling together with another Pakistani national. The Herald newspaper says that man is 39-year old Chaudry Parvez Ahmed.  They are reported to have come to Zimbabwe from Saudi Arabia, via Tanzania .

The paper says that an Imran Muhammad is wanted in connection with the terror attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai two years ago.

Now, Beitbridge is a common way for illegal immigrants to enter South Africa. Most of them are Africans, including a couple million from Zimbabwe, but it is also common for folks to go there to shop, or to visit relatives in South Africa. South Asian shopkeepers are still common in that region, so the fact they were caught suggests police had a “headsup” to look for them.

Yes, Mugabe has connections with Libya and other shady states, but the World Cup games in South Africa are a triumph for those in the region, so one doubts his government had any connection with these men: indeed, the fact that they were arrested by Zimbabwean police suggests the exact opposite.

Two stories today, however, suggest that the arrest of these men might have been part of a much larger plot.

Story number one: The bombing of several sites in Kampala Uganda, (an Ethiopian restaurant and a bar showing the World cup game).

Yes, apparantly now killing those merely trying to watch the World cup games is good…or maybe it has a deeper reason. Several weeks ago, a Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab, urged their followers to attack the diplomatic posts of Burundi and Uganda.Why?

Several battalions from Uganda and Burundi numbering 6,133 are in Mogadishu to protect vital government installations including the port, airport and Villa Somalia, the state house in the capital.

Presumably the bombing was a warning, because last week East African governments met and requested more troops, up to 20,000 to keep the peace in Somalia.

The communique was issued by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which groups East African heads of state and government.

“The conflict in Somalia,” the IGAD leaders said, “is not a conflict among the Somalis but between the people of Somalia and international terrorist groups.” The insurgency represented an “escalating danger” not only for Somalia but for the sub-region.

Now a more ominous news story: there are reports that some people were arrested in South Africa who had possession of Caesium 137: a compound the is a byproduct of nuclear reactors but also is used in tiny amounts for medical treatment, such as for treating some cancers. In other words, there is a lot of it around, and a lot of hospitals would be storing small amounts that might be stolen.

The Caesium won’t make a nuclear bomb, but could be dispersed as a “dirty bomb”, and is pretty nasty stuff with a long half life if accidentally ingested.

Now for the really bad news: the NYDaily News story suggests that police were expecting to find more Caesium than was found in the raid.

A larger device is believed to exist, police said, but it’s location is unknown.

“We don’t know what these suspects’ intentions were and we need to find the device quickly,” a police official told The Independent.

The men were caught in a sting operation after police heard rumors of a group trying to sell “a device” for several million Rand.

…Colonel Musa Zondi, said the four were arrested as they tried to sell the stolen material which was a sample of a device which was to be sold for R45 million.

The device confiscated in the raid was only a prototype: The real question is if the full device is out there somewhere, or if the criminals were merely trying to make money by fleecing their own customers.

So, as Drudge would say, “Developing…”


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician in the rural Philippines. She blogs at MakaipaBlog.

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