Three Lebanese nationals accused of being Hezbollah members and of plotting
attacks against Western and Israeli targets in Nigeria were acquitted of
terrorism charges in Nigeria on Friday.
However, one of the accused was
convicted of a weapons charge and given a life sentence, AFP
Mustapha Fawaz, Abdallah Thaini and Talal Ahmad Roda were
arrested in May on suspicion of of being members of Hezbollah, and a raid on one
of their residences revealed a stash of heavy weapons.
arrest, police in Nigeria said that all of the suspects had admitted to being
members of Hezbollah under questioning.
A raid on the residence of one of
the men had uncovered 11 60 mm. anti-tank weapons, four anti-tank land mines,
two rounds of ammunition for a 122 mm. artillery gun, 21 rocket-propelled
grenades, 17 AK-47s with more than 11,000 bullets and some dynamite.
arms and ammunition were targeted at facilities of Israel and Western interest
in Nigeria,” Captain Ikedichi Iweha said following their arrest, without
elaborating. Iweha is the military spokesman for the city of Kano, the northern
Nigerian town where the men were arrested.
In his decision, Federal High
Court Judge Adeniyi Adetokunbo Ademola said Hezbollah “is not an international
terrorist organization in Nigeria,” and therefore membership is not criminal,
AFP quoted him as saying.
He said there was “no evidence” that the group
was planning an attack or had received “terrorism training” as the prosecution
But the accused Roda was found guilty of conspiracy to import
weapons into the country and sentenced to life imprisonment.
terror suspects claimed in court in August that Israeli intelligence agents had
used excessive interrogation methods on them following their
According to Fawaz, “During the 14 days of interrogation, I was
interrogated by six Israeli Mossad agents and one masked white man.”
in August, Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told The
Jerusalem Post that Hezbollah was using the sovereign territory of Nigeria,
Cyprus and Bulgaria for its activities as an “international terrorist
He declined to comment on the report about the suspects
alleging Mossad interrogations, saying that the “focus should not be on random
allegations,” but on showing how Hezbollah has “perpetuated terrorism” in other
Speaking outside the court on Friday, Mustapha Fawaz told
reporters he felt vindicated.
“We have lived in Nigeria for most of our
lives ... We have invested so much in Nigeria,” he said. “Anybody who invests
billions of naira [hundreds of thousands of dollars] in a place will not be
interested in destroying it.”
Benjamin Weinthal and Reuters contributed
to this report.