The State Security Service said in Abuja on Wednesday that it had uncovered a terror network, coordinated by Iranians, in Lagos.
The SSS said this while parading a leader of an Islamic sect, Abdullahi Berende, and two others said to be operators of the Iranian terror cell gathering information about Israelis and Americans living in Nigeria.
Paraded alongside 50-year-old Berende were Sulaiman Saka and Saheed Adewunmi. The three were said to be working for Iranian terrorists planning to attack Americans and Israelis in the country.
A third suspect, Bunyamin Yusuf, is said to be at large.
Berende who is said to be a leader of the Shi’a Islamic sect in Ilorin, Kwara State, told journalists that he was employed by “people who were ready to capitalise on my weakness,” though he denied being part of a terrorist network.
Deputy Director Public Relations, SSS, Marilyn Ogar, told journalists that Berende, an Islamic teacher, and local leader of the Shiite sect, was observed to have made several suspicious trips to and fro Iran where he interacted with some Iranians known to operate a high profile international terrorist network.
Ogar said that in the course of interrogation, Berende confessed that in 2006, he gained admission to study a six-month course in modern Shi’a Islamic teaching (Da’awa) at Imam Khomeini University, Iran.
She said, “Berende confessed that he was recruited by some Iranian elements when he returned to Iran for further studies in 2011 and was subsequently trained in the use of AK47 assault rifle, pistols, production and detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices and after he returned to Nigeria, he was invited by his handlers to Dubai for further briefing in April 2012; he was tasked to establish a terrorist cell in the South-Western part of Nigeria with particular emphasis on Lagos.”
The SSS boss further explained that in his bid to establish the terror network, Berende recruited Saka, Adewunmi and Yusuf, adding that the Iranian sponsors requested that he identified and gathered intelligence on public places and prominent hotels frequented by Americans and Israelis.
Ogar added that the Islamic teacher admitted that he personally took photographs of the Israeli cultural centre in Ikoyi, Lagos, which he sent to his trainers.