Nigerians charged with aiding Iran militant cell

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 28, 2013 1:10 PM
Nigerians charged with aiding Iran militant cell

ABUJA (Reuters) - 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 interests.

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.

Berende is accused of travelling to Iran to help with "material assistance and terrorist training ... in the use of fire arms, explosives and other related weapons."

He is also accused of knowing about a program of spying on two Israeli targets in Lagos - the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish center and the Lagos branch of AA Consulting - but failing to alert the authorities.

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. It gave no further details.

It was not the first time Iran has been in the spotlight in Nigeria. In 2010, authorities at a Lagos port found a hidden shipment of artillery rockets, rifle rounds and other weapons from Iran. A Nigerian and an Iranian each received a five-year sentence for arms smuggling in May for smuggling the weapons.

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)