Nigeria terror suspects allege abuse by Mossad

Suspected Hezbollah operatives claim that Israeli intelligence agents used excessive interrogation methods on them.

Handcuffs (illustrative photo) 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Handcuffs (illustrative photo) 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
Suspected Hezbollah operatives in Nigeria claimed in a federal criminal court on Monday that Israeli intelligence agents had used excessive interrogation methods on them, media reports said on Tuesday.
In May, the Nigerian authorities arrested three dual Nigerian-Lebanese nationals for alleged possession of a massive weapons cache meant for carrying out terrorist operations against Israeli and American targets.
According to a Tuesday AFP report, suspect Mustapha Fawaz testified that a Nigerian security official had informed him that “some European friends” wanted to query him.
“I was taken to an interrogation room, where I met three Israeli Mossad agents,” said Fawaz. He claimed that one of the agents had disclosed that he was a Mossad official.
Fawaz said the Israeli agents “handcuffed my hands behind my back for days. I lost count because they did not allow me to sleep for several days.”
He, Abdallah Thahini and Talal Ahmad Roda were charged with illicit possession of anti-tank and antipersonnel mines, rocket-propelled grenades, 17 AK- 47s with more than 11,000 bullets, and dynamite.
According to Fawaz, three Mossad agents met him during the nascent phase of the interrogation.
“During the 14 days of interrogation, I was interrogated by six Israeli Mossad agents and one masked white man,” he said. “I was interrogated in Arabic. I asked to be interrogated in English, but they refused.
Most of them are weak in English. They are not Europeans, but Israelis.”
Clifford Osagie, a legal representative with Nigeria’s State Security Service, said in June that there was evidence that the suspects belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah. He termed Hezbollah’s military arm a “terrorist organization.”
Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Hezbollah was using the sovereign territory of Nigeria, Cyprus and Bulgaria for its activities as an “international terrorist organization.”
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 countries.
In February, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry asserted that Hezbollah operatives were responsible for blowing up an Israeli tour bus in July 2012, killing five Israelis and a Bulgarian national. The bus bombing played a role last month in the EU’s decision to place Hezbollah’s military wing on its terror list. In March, a Cyprus criminal court convicted a confessed Hezbollah member of plotting to kill Israelis.
According to the AFP report, Fawaz said the Israelis “asked if I have any weapons in Abuja,” the Nigerian capital, and “if I have been asked to do any operations in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world.”
Thahini provided similar testimony to Fawaz’s regarding the interrogation.
Thahini, who said he was no longer a member of Hezbollah, told the court he could recognize the Israelis based on their accents.
“We are neighbors,” he noted, referring to Lebanon and Israel.
He said the interrogators had deprived him of sleep for five days, causing him to lose consciousness during the procedure.
AFP cited Fawaz as telling the court that no Nigerian officials had been present during the alleged Israeli interrogation. He described the interrogation procedures as “crude and nasty.”
According to a Saturday article in the Nigerian Tribune news outlet, the third suspect, Roda, said he had traveled to Lebanon for the wedding of his daughter in 2010 and that a Hezbollah member named Isa had asked him to gather information about Israeli businesses in the African country.
Roda told the court that he had refused to furnish Hezbollah with such information.
Asked about Roda’s statement that Hezbollah was gathering information on Israeli companies, Hirschson told the Post that the admission of such activity “shows the extent of the problem” with Hezbollah.
In June, the US government sanctioned four members of the Lebanese Shi’ite group for illicit activities in West African countries.
The three Nigerian- Lebanese suspects have denied the weapons charges against them. Nigerian authorities are seeking a fourth person suspected of involvement in the weapons and terrorism case.
Federal court justice Adeniyi Adetokunbo Ademola set a September 30 date for closing arguments in the case.