Targeting USAID, the Peace Corps, and Israeli and Nigerian targets. “Nigeria secret police say terror group broken up,” by Bashir Adigun for the Associated Press, February 20 (thanks to Block Ness):
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) “” Nigeria’s secret police said Wednesday they broke up a terrorist group backed by “Iranian handlers” who wanted to assassinate a former military ruler and gather intelligence about locations frequented by Americans and Israelis.
The State Security Service, responsible for domestic spying in Africa’s most populous nation, offered no details about who actually controlled and bankrolled the group. However, it said it had arrested three suspected terrorists, including the group’s leader, before they could launch attacks.
The leader’s “lieutenants successfully conducted surveillance and gathering relevant data … (for) possible attacks,” secret police spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said, reading from a statement. “He personally took photographs of the Israeli culture center in Ikoyi, Lagos, which he sent to his handlers.”
The service identified the leader as Abdullahi Mustaphah Berende, a 50-year-old leader of a local Shiite sect in Ilorin. Ogar said Berende was arrested along with two other suspected members, while another remains at large.
Berende first traveled to Iran in 2006 and studied at an Islamic university, said Ogar. He later returned in 2011 and learned how to use Kalashnikov assault rifles and pistols, as well as making and detonating homemade explosives, she said.
Ogar identified high-level targets of the group as former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida and Ibrahim Dasuki, a former Sultan of Sokoto, a major Islamic leader in the nation. The group also conducted surveillance on USAID, the U.S. Peace Corps and other targets, she said.
Berende also received some $30,000 in cash to fund the group’s planned operations….