BERLIN – Nigeria’s security agency issued last week new terrorism charges
against three Lebanese men suspected of membership in Hezbollah who were
captured with a massive weapons cache.
The Nigerian media outlet Vanguard
reported on Saturday that a legal representative for Nigeria’s State Security
Service, Clifford Osagie, termed Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist
Nigeria’s military said in May that the weapons were to be used
in attacks on American and Israeli targets.
Osagie said, “We have proofs
that the applicants belong to the military wing of Hezbollah which is a
terrorist organization and in the coming days, this country will know more about
The remark by Osagie appears to be the first explicit government
acknowledgment of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist
Bahrain, the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the
Netherlands and Australia have either fully sanctioned Hezbollah for terrorism
or outlawed its military wing.
The three suspected Hezbollah operatives,
Mustapha Roda Darwish Fawaz, Talal Roda and Abdulla Tahini, cited in the
Vanguard report, are charged with importing arms. The weapons cache included
antitank weapons, rocket-propelled guns, anti-tank/antipersonnel mines,
seventeen AK-47s with more than 11,000 bullets, and dynamite.
authorities arrested the men, including a fourth suspect, Hussain Nurudeen
Kossdi, in late May.
Robert Clarke, a defense lawyer for the men,
disputed the arrests, stating at an earlier court proceeding in June: “We are
asking the court for 1 billion naira in damages for unlawful incarceration. The
liberty of the individual as guaranteed under the constitution, we are asking
this court to enforce it by releasing them on bail or try them through due
processes of court,” said Clarke.
Nigerian authorities said the men
admitted Hezbollah membership. The suspects are from Nigeria’s largest northern
city, Kano, where they work as businessmen.
A second defense attorney,
Ahmed Raji, according to a Voice of American report, said being a member of
Hezbollah does not constitute a crime in Nigeria because the government does not
consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist entity. Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored
terrorist organization, has over the years expanded its criminal and terrorism
activities in Western and Central Africa, say US counter-terrorism
A Nigerian court sentenced in May a member of Iran’s
Revolutionary Guard and a Nigerian accomplice to five years in prison. The men
were convicted of delivering an illegal shipment of mortars and rockets seized
to a port in Lagos in 2010. Nigeria’s security and military forces are engulfed
in a bloody conflict with a radical Islamist group Boko Haram in the
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Reuters contributed to this report.