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People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) was formed in 1996 as an Islamically-oriented, militant group in the Cape Flats area of Cape Townmarker, South Africa. It claims to fight drugs and gangsterism but its members have been implicated in several criminal and terrorist acts.

Origins

PAGAD grew as an offshoot of the Islamic organisation Qibla. Initially the community and police were hesitant to act against PAGAD activities, recognising the need for community action against crime in the gang-ridden communities of the Cape Flats. However, PAGAD increasingly took matters into their own hands, believing the police were not taking enough action against gangs.

PAGAD's campaign came to prominence in 1996 when a local gang leader, Rashaad Staggie, was beaten and burnt to death by a mob during a march to his home. Police quickly came to regard PAGAD as part of the problem, rather than a partner in the fight against crime, and they were eventually designated a terrorist organization by the South African government.

Cape Town bombings

Although PAGAD's leadership denied involvement, PAGAD's G-Force, operating in small cell, was believed responsible for killing a large number of gang leaders, and also for a bout of urban terrorism — particularly bombings — in Cape Town. The bombings started in 1998, and included nine bombings in 2000. In addition to targeting gang leaders, bombing targets included South African authorities, moderate Muslims, synagogues, gay nightclubs, tourist attractions, and Western-associated restaurants. The most prominent attack during this time was the bombing on 25 August 1998 of the Cape Town Planet Hollywood.

In September 2000, magistrate Pieter Theron, who was presiding in a case involving PAGAD members, was murdered in a drive-by shooting.

PAGAD was also accused of anti-semitic statements and a petrol bomb attack on a Jewish bookshop owner.

Recent history

Violent acts such as bombings and vigilantism in Cape Town subsided in 2002, and the police have not attributed any such acts to PAGAD since the November 2002 bombing of the Bishop Lavis offices of the Serious Crimes Unit in the Western Cape.

In 2002, PAGAD leader Abdus Salaam Ebrahim was convicted of public violence and imprisoned for seven years. Although a number of other PAGAD members were arrested and convicted of related crimes, none were convicted of the Cape Town bombings.

Today, PAGAD maintains a small and less visible presence in the Cape Town Muslim community.

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