JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African police said Tuesday that they are investigating whether more than $5 million seized from five passengers bound for Dubai in August may have been part of a fundraising scheme by Islamic extremists.
There are “rumors” that the cash was headed for the Islamic State group but authorities have so far not found any “tangible evidence,” police Brig. Hangwani Mulaudzi said.
“The possibility might be there, the possibility might not be there,” Mulaudzi said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Islamic State extremists control parts of Syria and Iraq and have welcomed thousands of foreign fighters into their ranks.
Five passengers carrying the cash were detained while boarding an Emirates flight at Johannesburg’s main international airport on Aug. 28, according to the South African Revenue Service, or SARS.
“Upon noticing the SARS officials, the passengers retreated and headed back to the entrance of the boarding gate,” the service said in a statement last month. “At this point, officials closed the boarding gate door and the passengers were compelled to wait for the SARS officials.”
The cash was packed in 11 bags and consisted mostly of U.S. dollars, with a smaller amount in the South African currency, authorities said. The money was delivered to the South African Reserve Bank for investigation.
CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press
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