South African brothers plead guilty to charges of terrorism, including against Jewish targets

The Thulsie twins also wanted to go fight for Islamic State in Syria.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Twin brothers in South Africa who planned to attack local Jewish and other targets were convicted of terrorism charges after pleading guilty the day their trial was to begin, the country’s local media reported Monday.

Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie had conspired to use “violence by any means or method” to hurt or kill both Jews and Shiite Moslems, as well as “caus[e] the destruction of or substantial damage to any property, whether public or private,” said the court documents.

The brothers are supporters of the Islamic State, a Sunni Islamic terror organization that considers both Jews and Shiites infidels who are automatically deserving of the death penalty.

“The purpose of the conspiracy,” the plea agreement noted, “was to intimidate the Shia and Jewish communities in South Africa and foreigners at South African airports and to cause or spread feelings of terror, fear or panic in the civilian population of South Africa and in particular the sections of the civilian population so targeted.”

The 28-year-olds also pled guilty for trying to join ISIS in Syria in 2015 by flying to Turkey and crossing its porous border with Syria on foot. According to South African newspaper Daily Maverick, they  attempted to join the terrorist organization twice that year but were prevented from getting on an airplane by the authorities, who suspected that they were not traveling for innocent purposes.

Before being arrested in July 2016, prosecutors said their plans had included attacks against American, British, Russian or French diplomats. However, no explosives or arms were found in their possession at the time of their arrest, and they had yet to carry out any attack, which contributed in part to their relatively light verdicts.

The Johannesburg High Court sentenced Tony-Lee and Brandon-Lee to 11 years’ and eight years’ imprisonment respectively. Tony-Lee received a stiffer sentence because he also admitted to “conspiracy to commit a terrorist act” by being in “regular” contact with a foreigner linked to ISIS and had asked him for instructions on how to make a bomb.

The almost six years they have spent in jail since their arrest effectively means they will both be free in five years or less. Their defense team had delayed their trial numerous times over the years by repeatedly trying to have different courts try the case

This was the first time a conviction was gained in South Africa on charges of international terrorism under the 2004 Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.