The Thulsie twins made history as the first South Africans to be charged for being connected to the Islamic State. The high profile case has been dragged for more than five years since the brothers were arrested in July 2016. It finally came to a close on 7th February 2022 after the brothers entered into a plea deal with the state and were sentenced by the Gauteng High Court. Keep reading to get the comprehensive Thulsie twins' story.
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Terrorist threats and the growing number of South Africans joining jihadist groups in Syria, Iraq, and Mozambique continues to give the South African intelligence sleepless nights. The country has become a key source of ISIL resources, including money, weapons, and radicalized jihadist fighters. South Africans are allegedly aiding and abetting terrorist plans in the growing Islamic State Central African Province in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.
Thulsie twins' age
Tony-Lee Thulsie and Brandon-Lee Thulsie are Johannesburg twin brothers. The twins are now 28 years old, although their exact date of birth is not known. Their mother is Wasiela Thulsie, and they have a sister known as Salomi McKuur. The Thulsie twins' family has supported them throughout the case.
What did the Thulsie twins do?
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According to the Jamestown Foundation publication, the twins converted to Islam in 2013 alongside their friend Renaldo Smith. After becoming radicalized, they tried to leave South Africa in 2015 to go to Syria and join the Islamic State jihadist group.
They boarded Qatar Airways to go to Turkey and then to Syria but the O.R. Tambo International Airport disrupted their travel plans after learning their intention to leave the country. It is believed the airport officials received a tip from the South African intelligence team.
Several months later, after their first flight attempt, they went to Maputo in Mozambique and tried booking a flight with Kenya Airways but were unsuccessful. After their failed attempts to join the IS group in Syria, they embarked on a mission to conduct terrorist attacks on South African soil.
Tony-Lee later got in contact with an IS operative and shared his terrorist plans, unaware that he was communicating with an undercover FBI agent posing as an IS operative. Investigations were then carried out for about ten months before the twins were finally arrested.
The Thulsie twins' arrest
The Johannesburg brothers were arrested on 9th July 2016 during raids at their homes on the West Rand in Johannesburg. During the search, handwritten notes with details on how to join the ISIL jihadist group and instructions to make bombs were found.
Their friend Renaldo Smith was made a state witness in the case but later disappeared. In 2018, it was reported that he had joined a Mozambique-based jihadist group, Islamic State Central African Province.
The Thulsie twins' case
Brothers Tony-Lee and Brandon-Lee were charged with plotting alleged terror-related attacks on South African soil. The state of South Africa accused them of being linked to the Islamic State.
They intended to attack the US embassy, the UK High Commission, the South Africa Zionist Federation, King David High School in Johannesburg, and Denel. Their other targets were the SA Jews who fought in Israel, Jewish cartoonist Jonathan Zapiro Shapiro, an anonymous gay Imam, and a Jewish South African investment banker.
Thulsie Twins: latest news
After several postponements and delays, the Thulsie twins trial finally began on Monday 7th February 2022 at the Johannesburg High Court. Tony-Lee and his brother Brandon-Lee entered into a plea and sentence agreement with the state during their first day of trial.
Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng sentenced the accused Johannesburg brothers as per the terms of the plea deal. Brandon Lee was sentenced to eight years in prison, while his brother Tony Lee will serve 11 years behind bars. The Thulsie twins' prison terms include the five years and seven months they have already spent in jail since 2016.
The Thulsie twins' lawyer, Abu Bakr Omar, revealed that they willingly signed the plea agreement. Sources indicate that the brothers pleaded guilty to attempting to leave South Africa and be part of the Islamic State in Syria. Brandon-Lee pleaded guilty to being in possession of terror-related materials.
Tony-Lee pleaded guilty to intentionally conspiring to engage in terrorism activity in South Africa. In exchange, the state withdrew several charges against the brothers, including seeking support for a terrorist organization and financing terrorist activities.
The Thulsie twins' case is finally over, but the fight against terrorism remains a key concern for South Africa. The government is tasked with stopping youth radicalization in the country and blocking porous links that connect South Africans to jihadist groups.
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On 7th February 2022, Thabiso and DJ Fresh took to social media to confirm that they were divorcing after 20 years of marriage.
Source: Briefly News