Nigerian authorities said on Thursday they had arrested three Lebanese in northern Nigeria on suspicion of being members of Hizbullah who were plotting attacks on Israeli and Western targets in the country.
The three suspects were arrested between May 16 and May 28 in the north’s biggest city, Kano, the city’s military spokesman, Captain Ikedichi Iweha, said in a statement. All had admitted under questioning to being members of Hizbullah.
A raid on the residence of one of the Lebanese had uncovered a stash of weapons, including 11 60-mm anti-tank weapons, four anti-tank landmines, two rounds of ammunition for a 122-mm artillery gun, 21 rocket-propelled grenades, seventeen AK-47s with more than 11,000 bullets, and some dynamite, he said.
“The arms and ammunition were targeted at facilities of Israel and Western interests in Nigeria,” Iweha said, but he did not elaborate.
The secret service detained the first suspect, Mustapha Fawaz, on May 16 at his supermarket in Kano. His interrogation led to other suspects, including Abdullah Tahini, who was later arrested at the Kano airport with $60,000 in undeclared cash.
The third, Talal Roda, a Nigerian and Lebanese citizen, was arrested on Sunday at the house where the weapons were found two days later.
“The search team uncovered an underground bunker in the master bedroom where a large quantity of assorted weapons of different types and caliber were recovered,” Iweha said. “All those arrested have confessed to having undergone Hizbullah terrorist training.”
The possibility of a link with Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram, which Nigerian forces are battling in the northeast, was being investigated, Iweha said at a news conference.
An alliance between Salafist Sunni Muslim Boko Haram and Shiite Hizbullah would be unusual, and there has never previously been evidence of such a link.