Iran behind secret weapons shipment, Nigeria says

Internal documents state conclusion that Teheran sent arms discovered last month; Nigerian security service believes politicians imported arms.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS,
November 11, 2010 17:27
2 minute read.
Weapons found in Nigeria

nigeria weapons 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

ABUJA, Nigeria — Iran's government was behind the secret shipment of weapons that was discovered in Nigeria last month, Nigerian officials concluded in internal documents seen Thursday by The Associated Press.

The cargo shipped from an Iranian port was listed as building materials but contained 107 mm rockets, ammunition and arms. Nigeria's security service believes the arms were imported by some local politicians to destabilize the country if they lose in coming elections. The reports say Iran's  foreign ministry supported a Nigerian visa application for one of two Iranians who organized the shipment, saying he would work for the Iranian Embassy.

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Iranian Ambassador Hussein Abdullahi declined to immediately discuss the allegations.

Defense officials said the 13 shipping containers discovered in the Port of Lagos could signify that Iran is trying to develop a new route to smuggle arms and explosives to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Iran has been known to use ports in Sudan and Eritrea to unload weaponry and then take it over land, via Egypt, to the Philadelphi Corridor – the 14-kilometer strip of land between Egypt and the Gaza Strip – where the weaponry is then smuggled by tunnels to Hamas.

It is possible the discovery of the arms and ammunition in Nigeria means Iran has abandoned the Sudanese route due to the difficulty it has encountered in operating in the Red Sea, under international surveillance.

According to foreign reports, Israel also operates throughout the Red Sea, revealing last year that navy submarines and missile ships regularly passed through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea for operations.

Earlier this week, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said that the navy’s elite commando unit Flotilla 13 – known as the Shayetet – had recently conducted an operation “far away from Israel.”

If Iran is using Nigeria as a port, it would also entail a major logistical operation to facilitate the transfer of the weapons by land from Nigeria, Chad, Sudan and then via Egypt. In January 2009, Israel reportedly bombed a convoy of trucks that was carrying advanced weaponry destined for Gaza as it was traveling through the Sudanese desert.


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