JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - One terror suspect sold Islamic CDs and DVDs at flea markets. Another worked at a hamburger joint, blending into a country whose porous borders, easy money-laundering and passports for sale have created a popular hideout for international fugitives.
The arrests of the two - a U.S. embassy bomber and a man accused of plotting to set up a militant training camp in the United States - have authorities investigating whether al-Qaeda members are using southern Africa as a base to raise funds, recruit supporters and provide logistical support for global attacks.
Members of South Africa's security forces and some government leaders warn the region must step up anti-terror vigilance or it could become a target itself - much like Britain, accused of ignoring the danger of letting militants base themselves there prior to the July 7 mass-transit suicide bombings by homegrown Muslim radicals.
"There are groups in Africa that claim to be part of al-Qaeda and other structures, and here in southern Africa they have been discovered seeking refuge and quite possibly attempting to set up networks," South Africa's Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils said this week.