Wednesday, August 28, 2013
ABUJA — Nigeria charged two of its citizens
on Wednesday with assisting an Iranian militant cell in planning
possible attacks on Israeli targets, alleging that one had traveled to
Tehran and Dubai to receive cash and had known about spying on Israeli
The secret service [SSS] arrested Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and Saheed
Oluremi Adewumi, plus one other Nigerian, in February. It accused them
of being members of a “high-profile terrorist network” that was planning
attacks on home soil.
The alleged cell was not named in the charge sheet. Iran has never responded to the allegations.
Nigerian authorities are growing concerned about an apparent surge in
interest in the West African country by Shi'ite Muslim militant groups
with links to Iran or Lebanon. Three Lebanese have been in court over an
alleged Hezbollah plot since June.
Although the threat pales in comparison to Sunni Islamist groups like
al-Qaida or Nigerian outfit Boko Haram, recent cases have raised alarm.
Berende is accused of traveling to Iran to help with “material
assistance and terrorist training... in the use of fire arms, explosives
and other related weapons.”
He also is accused of knowing about spying on two Israeli targets in
Lagos - the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish center and the Lagos branch of AA
Consulting - but failing to alert police.
The charge did not make clear whether he himself is accused of doing the spying, but the SSS had earlier suggested he did.
The charges also say he took $30,000 in funding to carry out operations.
He and Adewumi were both accused of aiding a Iranian terrorist group,
including by using cameras to help them.
Iran has been in the spotlight in Nigeria before. In 2010, authorities
at a Lagos port found a shipment of artillery rockets, rifle rounds and
other weapons from Iran. A Nigerian and an Iranian each received a
five-year sentence in May for smuggling the weapons.
An Iranian diplomat was arrested in 2004 on suspicion of spying on the
Israeli embassy in Nigeria's capital Abuja, Israeli sources said. Iran
denied any spying.