South African twins planned attacks on U.S. Embassy, Jewish buildings


South African twins arrested over the weekend were planning attacks on the U.S. Embassy in the capital Pretoria as well as on buildings owned by Jewish people, police said on Monday.

Four South Africans, including the twins, Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie, faced charges in court ranging from conspiracy to firearms offences, the spokesman for the elite police unit Hawks, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, said.

The four, arrested in Johannesburg on Sunday, will be detained in custody until July 19, when their case will be heard, Mulaudzi said.

Quoting the charge sheet, the News24 news organization said the twins had been attempting to fly to Syria. Security officials say there are no known militant groups operating in South Africa, but Britain and the United States warned in June of a high threat of attacks against foreigners in the country's shopping malls.

Mulaudzi named the other two siblings as Fatima and Ibrahim Mohammed Patel.

“The indictment does talk to issues of terror plots that they were planning against the U.S. Embassy as well as Jewish buildings in the country,” he said, referring to the twins.

“The twins have been charged with conspiracy,” Mulaudzi added. “The Patel siblings have been charged with the violation of the Firearms Control Act for now.”

The twins' preliminary charge sheet states that their conspiracy occurred between October 2015 and July 8 this year, local newspaper the Times said on its online service.

S. Africa’s Jewish community offers prayers for Mandela


South Africa’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein, conveyed the Jewish community’s prayers and support to the daughter of ailing former President Nelson Mandela.

Mandela, 94, remains critically ill in a Pretoria hospital.

Dr. Makaziwe Mandela thanked the Jewish community on behalf of the Mandela family for its “love and support at this difficult time” as well as in the past.

“Makaziwe specifically said that I should convey to the Jewish community that her father cherishes the special and warm relationship he has had with South African Jews throughout his life,” the chief rabbi wrote in a message to the community on Friday. “She said her father deeply appreciates that throughout his life he has enjoyed the warmth, kindness and support of our community.”

[Related: A South African rabbi reflects on Nelson Mandela and the Jewish community]

Goldstein also requested that all congregational rabbis recite special prayers for Mandela during Sabbath services.

“At this time let us continue to pray for the comfort, strength and well-being of President Mandela as he continues to bravely fight for his life,” he wrote.

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