From UBONG UKPONG, Abuja
The State Security Service (SSS) yesterday paraded a suspected terror kingpin and two of his lieutenants. The security agency said that the suspects were backed by Iranian terrorist group. They had planned to site a cell in Lagos State.Their target is the South-West where they will launch attacks and cause unrest in the region.. SSS Deputy Director, Press, Marilyn Ogar, gave names of the suspect as Abdulahi Mustapha Berende and his two lieutenants as Sulaiman Olayinka Saka and Saheed Aderemi at a press conference in Abuja.
She said that the suspected terrorists leader had confessed that he was asked to as a matter of urgency, provide names of prominent Nigerians who if attacked, could unsettle the South-West. The SSS said that in his bid to satisfy his mentors, he was said to have confessed to listing former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, former Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki, Israeli and American interests, as top on their list for first attack, before they were arrested.
According to Ogar, Berende confessed that the South-West, particularly Lagos State, was targeted for attacks because his Iranian handlers believed that the Israelis had an intelligence facility there that was used in spying on Iran. Berende was also said to have confessed that, “his Iranian sponsors requested that he identifies and gathers intelligence on public places and prominent hotels frequented by Americans and Israelis to facilitate attacks.
He was also to provide specific details on the following organizations, USAID, Max, Zim International Shipping Company, A A Consulting, Peace Corps and the Jewish Cultural Centre (Chabad) in Lagos.” Ogar said while Berende initially confessed to personally taking photographs of the Israeli Cultural Centre in Ikoyi, Lagos, which he sent to his promoters in Iran, “his lieutenants succesfully conducted surveillance and gathered relevant data on the listed targets preparatory to possible attacks.” Based on their confession, Berende and his Iranian sponsors were said to have agreed on communication codes to represent their targets, with “Uncle”, for Israeli and “Aunt” for America.
Ogar said that from intelligence, 50-year-old Berende, who hails from Ilorin, Kwara State, was the Shiite leader in Ilorin and has made several suspicious trips to and from Iran where he interracted with some Iranian elements known to operate a high profile international terrorist network. In the course of his travels, he was said to have attended a six-month course in modern Shi’a Islamic teaching (Da’awa) at Imam Khomeni University, Iran, trained on the use of AK 47, assault rifle, pistols, production and detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). However, Berende initially denied his involvement. He told reporters “I am not a terrorist, I don’t operate with any terrorist group in the world.
” But unable to sustain his argument, he became very emotional, confirming the positions of the SSS from his said confessions, saying, “I never meant to betray my country, I was planning to do genuine business with these people, I realize that they were playing me games”, as he apologised, asking Nigerians, government and his family to forgive him for causing them such embarrassment.