Hezbollah cell ‘connected with Boko Haram’ arrested in Nigeria
May 31, 2013 7 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Nigerian authorities have announced the arrest of three alleged members of Lebanese group Hezbollah, following the discovery of a large weapons and explosives cache in northern Nigeria. Representatives of the West African country’s military and the State Security Service said on Thursday that three Lebanese nationals had been arrested between May 16 and 28. They were identified as Mustapha Fawaz, Abdullah Tahini and Talal Roda, with the latter being a dual Nigerian-Lebanese citizen. They are accused of being members of Hezbollah, the militant Shiite group that controls large swathes of Lebanese territory. All were reportedly arrested in Kano city, northern Nigeria’s most notable commercial center, which is home to a substantial Lebanese community of merchants. Nigerian security forces raided a warehouse adjacent to a residence belonging to a Lebanese national, where they discovered a hidden underground bunker below the master bedroom. In there they found and confiscated large quantities of assorted weapons, including a dozen anti-tank rockets, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with 21 missiles, 19 AK-47 and submachine guns, as well as 76 grenades. Nigerian government representatives told local journalists on Thursday that the cache was “a Hezbollah armory” belonging to “a cell of Hezbollah”. A few hours later, officials of Israel’s Counter Terrorism Bureau (CTB) said Tel Aviv was aware of the Nigerian government’s operation. According to the CTB, which operates under the country’s National Security Council, and is supervised by the Office of the Prime Minister, the alleged Hezbollah cell had been operating in Nigeria for several years and planned “numerous attacks against Western and specifically Israeli targets”. A CTB spokesperson told reporters that the cell was “part of the Shiite terror campaign against Israeli targets throughout the world” and had members “in other African nations as well”. Nigerian media said on Friday that all three arrestees had admitted under interrogation to being members of Hezbollah. Some observers, however, told the BBC on Friday that caution should be exercised before any operational connections were drawn between Boko Haram, a Salafist Sunni Muslim group operating in northern Nigeria, and Hezbollah, which is almost exclusively Shiite. A high degree of cooperation between a Sunni and a Shiite militant group would be highly unusual, and there is little evidence of such collaboration in recent times anywhere in the world, including Nigeria. The latter is home to just a few thousand Shiite Muslims.