South Africa steps up Somali surveillance before World Cup

Surveillance of possible terrorist attacks - including bombings and biological and chemical attacks - has been stepped up by South Africa's intelligence agencies in the run up the June's World Cup, with specific attention paid to Somalia.

Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group has reportedly established a network in the Cape Flats, leading intelligence operatives in South Africa to visit Somalia and Kenya, though it is believed unlikely that Muslim extremists would launch attacks in South Africa, their so-called logistical hub.

Most of southern Somalia is controlled by Al-Shabaab except for the capital city of Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab has been fighting the United Nations recognized transitional government as well as its Ethiopian supporters since 2006.

In February 2008, the United States claimed that al-Shabaab was linked to al-Qaeda. Al-Shabaab was then placed on the U.S.'s list of foreign terrorist organizations. The U.S. also claimed that senior al-Shabaab leaders had trained in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda.

"In view of the 31 other countries participating in the games there is the potential for the threat of a terror attack," national police World Cup spokesman Senior Superintendent Vishnu Naidoo told the Independent group newspapers in late December. "To counter this we have launched proactive and reactive plans which include the intervention and the assistance of Interpol in the creation of databases of dangerous and disruptive persons.

"These databases will include all persons involved in all forms of organised crime, ranging from terrorism to gun smuggling and hooliganism. No one whose name is on the database will be allowed into the country."

South Africa, to prepare for the cup, has conducted numerous terrorist-simulation exercises - including chemical, biological and radioactive attacks - and secured over 50,000 security fore personnel for the games.