Johannesburg: Two Indian-origin youths from South Africa have died allegedly fighting for the Islamic State, becoming one of the first South Africans to have died in strife-torn Syria.
Articles in media outlets today said a confidential report had indicated that Fayaaz Valli, 23, had gone to Syria claiming to be working for an orphanage but ended up being killed while fighting with the dreaded terror outfit IS. Valli's father Riyad told the weekly Sunday Times that he was heartbroken by the death of his son but did not believe he had joined the militant group.
"I would never have allowed him to go if I knew," the father said, but the report claims that two South Africans from Roshnee have already died while fighting alongside the IS, while several more were planning to enlist with the group. According to the report, the families of both men were earlier told that they had died in car accidents.
The second man, whose identity has not been made public, allegedly settled all his debts and distributed his assets before travelling to Turkey to cross the border into Syria to join IS. The two youth belong to the Muslim community of a small township south of here - Roshnee, that was created in the apartheid era for Indian South Africans of that region.
Although government sources would not comment on it, the reports said the Muslim community of Roshnee have closed ranks to protect the families of the duo. This came amid concern that a number of young people from the town were being recruited to join the militant group which claims to act in the name of Islam but has been decried by Muslim organisations across the country.
The weekly claimed to have knowledge of at least 22 South Africans who had flown on their own or with their families to Abu Dhabi in the Middle East and then to Turkey to try to join the IS. About half of them had been deported by authorities. The report said Roshnee residents had believed men collecting funds for humanitarian efforts on the Syrian border were actually doing so for IS.
The Syrian Embassy in Pretoria has previously warned against organisations pretending to be engaged in humanitarian efforts in the Syrian war being a front for IS fundraising and recruitment. Now, the Roshnee community has rallied to a call from all major Muslim organisations in South Africa which denounced IS as not subscribing to the principles of Islam in Friday prayers yesterday.