SSS smashes Hezbollah terrorist cell in Kano

From DESMOND MGBOH, Kano

A combined team of the Joint Task Force (JTF), involving officers of the Nigerian Army and the Directorate of State Security (DSS), yesterday, confirmed that they have smashed a cell of a foreign terrorist organization, identified as Hezbollah in Kano and arrested some of its members who are operating in the country.

Daily Sun gathered that the smashing of the terror cell, which particularly shocked the Lebanese community in the state, equally led to the seizure of a large cache of weapons of mass destruction at a property located at No 3, Gaya Road, off Bompai Road, Kano. The said property, according to security officials, belonged to one Abdul Hassan Taher Fadlalla, a Lebanese national, who is currently out of the country.

The Director of the State Security, Mr. Eteng Bassey and the Brigade Commander of the 3 Brigade of the Nigeria Army, Brigadier General Illyasu Abbah, said they uncovered an underground bunker in the master bedroom of the said house after a painstaking search conducted by security officers.

Speaking to newsmen at the house, they disclosed that the weapons discovered included 11 of 60mm anti-tank weapons, four of anti-tank mines, two of 122mm artillery gun ammunition, 76 military grenade and nine pistols. Also discovered at the house were 21 RPG bombs, 16 RPG chargers one RPG tubes, one SMG, two of SMG magazines, seven AK47 rifles, 44 AK 47 magazines, 103 packs of small detonators, rocket propelled guns and 11, 433 of 7.62mm ammunition, among other dangerous weapons.

The security chiefs said: “All the weapons and ammunition recovered were properly concealed with several layers of concrete and placed in coolers, drums and neatly wrapped bags.” Security sources told Daily Sun that the discovery of the bunkers did not come easy as the whole house was full of decoys and distractions, apart from the fact that they had reinforced locks and keys on the doors and windows leading to the master bedroom, which had the bunkers.

A source told Daily Sun that the hidden bunker was eventually discovered with the help of explosive detectors, which insistently alerted the security agents to the effect that there were weapons in the house, a situation which caused the security team to tear the ceilings of the building as well as to dig into the under ground layers of the house.

Reeling out the sequence of events leading to the arrest of the suspects, the security chiefs stated that the discoveries were as a result of an ongoing counter terrorism investigation by the Department of the State Services Abuja spanning over several months.

The security sources noted that the investigation had confirmed to the existence of a Hezbollah foreign terrorist cell in Nigeria. According to the director of the state security, “the investigation is ongoing, but what you see here, all these things you see here, is the handiwork of a foreign terrorist organization.

They call them, Hezbollah. This is the handiwork of Hezbollah. What has just been discovered is a cell of Hezbollah and what you have seen here is a Hezbollah armory.”

He also said the suspects had confessed that the entire arms and ammunition were targeted at facilities belonging to Israel and Western interests in Nigeria. “These arms were said to have been brought in to use them against Israel property or Western interest in Nigeria, but whatever it is, our security forces are on the heels of the investigation.

The truth of it would come out: If the arms are for what they claim or if they are imported to harm our country.” The discovery, according to the two security chiefs, followed the arrest of one Mustapha Fawaz on May 16, 2013 by the Directorate of State Security. Mustapha Fawaz, they said, was the co-owner of the popular Amigo Supermarket as well as the Wonderland Amusement Park, all in Abuja.

“Thus, his arrest and confession unveiled other members of the foreign terrorist network, which led to the interception of one member of the syndicate named Abdullah Tahini, a Lebanese national at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport with an undeclared amount of $60, 000 on him en-route Beirut.

On May 26, they subsequently arrested one Talal Roda, a Lebanese national with Nigerian passport in the said house at No 3, Gaya Road in Kano, which led to the search conducted in the house.

The two security chiefs said all the suspects arrested had confessed that they underwent a Hezbollah terrorist training, besides implicating the said Fauzi Fawad. They described the entire episode as a serious security matter, pointing out that the cell, if they had succeeded in their goals, could have caused a lot of diplomatic problem for Nigeria, even as they expressed worry that the terror group had the capacity to provide support to the local terrorist group operating in Nigeria.

Brigadier General Abbah also expressed anger that the owner of the said house had deceived the people of his street by building a mosque in front of his compound adding that: “At the entrance (of the compound) you will see something like a mosque, where people do pray. If you look out-from the beginning of the street up to the end of the street-nobody erected anything like that.

“He (suspect) wants to show people that yes, he can pray and the people can come and pray there, while he is amassing weapons that could destroy the same people he is gathering in front of his house to pray,” Abbah said. According to the General, he could not say how long the weapons had been kept in the house, adding that only a weapon expert could determine exactly how long the weapons had been kept in the house.

He, however, pointed out that they fired one of the weapons and it fired very well, a situation he said signified that the weapons were in good condition to be put to use at anytime.

He also disclosed that they were expecting the members of the National Assembly and other top policy makers who were concerned with security and defence matters in the country, who would be visiting the state in the next few days.

“These officials,” he said, ‘would offer them firsthand information on the smashing of the terrorist cell and the discovery of a huge cache of weapons in the state.”

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