How to spot a potential terrorist in South Africa

With four suspected terrorists recently arrested in Johannesburg and the United States Government warning about possible terrorist attacks in South African shopping malls, citizens are concerned about extremists and their personal safety.

Carte Blanche stated that the proliferation of social media and secure messaging has made it more difficult for authorities to identify and track radicalised individuals.

“Fortunately, by paying close attention to loved ones and turning to your local community, a person on the verge of this can be helped,” stated the report.

This is how you can spot a potential radicalised individual, based on information from the Institute for Security Studies and Radicalisation Research.

Signs of radicalisation

  • Sudden extreme changes in lifestyle, daily living, work performance, and relations.
  • Signs of anxiety, depression, paranoia, or suicidal tendencies.
  • Developing unhealthy habits including addiction, irrational anger, or social problems.
  • Dropping out of school, university, or a club, citing beliefs as the reason.
  • Becoming negative towards friends and loved ones over beliefs.
  • Constant confrontations with family and friends whenever beliefs are felt to be threatened.
  • Discrimination towards specific individuals.
  • Taking part in violent and dangerous activities.
  • Supporting activities that could harm others.

Social media and online behaviour

  • Facebook or Twitter is used to advocate violent acts or criminal behaviour to further a cause.
  • The watching of content showcasing extreme acts in line with their beliefs.
  • The person looks for online instruction manuals, manifestos, and extremist literature relating to their cause.

What to do

The report stated that if you notice changes in a person that concern you, try to engage them in a calm manner.

“Make it clear you are worried about their well-being. You are not looking to attack their beliefs.”

If their behaviour worsens, seek professional help.

“You can request medical experts, religious authorities, social services, or law enforcement to assist.”

If you suspect the person is planning an attack, you must alert the police immediately.

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How to spot a potential terrorist in South Africa