nigeria weapons 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Weapons discovered in 13 shipping containers in the Port of Lagos earlier this
week could signify that Iran is trying to develop a new route to smuggle arms
and explosives to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, defense officials said on
The ship, apparently from Iran, reportedly docked in the Lagos
Port on Tuesday and, according to the bill of lading, was supposed to be
carrying construction supplies. On inspecting the 13 containers, customs
officials discovered rockets, mortars, bombs, rifles and heavy machine guns
hidden among crates of building tiles.
Nigerian officials were quoted in
the media claiming that the cargo had been under surveillance for some time. It
was possible that the intelligence on the cargo was supplied by Western
“On opening the first container, the service operatives
discovered rocket launchers, grenades and other explosives; the weapons were
concealed among crates of floor tiles,” Nigerian State Security Service
spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar was quoted as saying.
The largest rocket
appeared to be a 107-mm. Katyusha, which Iran is known to manufacture and which
makes up the backbone of Hizbullah’s and Hamas’s arsenals.
It was unclear
when the containers arrived in Lagos. Some reports claimed they arrived on
Tuesday, and others said they had been dropped off in Nigeria in July but had
yet to cross customs due to problems with their documentation.
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
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
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.”
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.