There are strong indications that members of the Somalia militant sect, Al-Shabab, aided Boko Haram militants in carrying out the attack on Nyanya Motor Park seven days ago.
Investigations revealed that Al-Shabab, which has strong links with Al-Qaeda, had moved from providing technical assistance to Boko Haram to fighting alongside insurgents in some parts of the North-East.
It was gathered that security agencies received intelligence reports that Al-Shabab, which carried out the West Gate Mall attack in Kenya, was planning an attack in Abuja.
A top military source said the information was received two weeks before the March 31, 2014 attempted jailbreak at the Yellow House headquarters of the Department of State Security Service in Abuja.
Investigations revealed that operatives were still trying to verify the claim that the jailbreak might be an Al-Shabab’s idea when the Nyanya Park blast occurred.
Our source said, “We received the information two weeks before the attempted jailbreak at the headquarters of the Department of State Services in Abuja.
“What we got was that those who carried out the Kenyan Mall attack were up to something in Abuja.
“So when the jailbreak at the SSS occurred, we thought that could be their mission to the country.
“What happened on Monday last week seems to suggest that they had a hand in it because we had the information two weeks before that foiled jailbreak.”
Another security source, who also spoke with The PUNCH on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to do so, said that Nigerian soldiers, during some of their operations against Boko Haram, had killed some foreigners suspected to be members of Al-Shabab.
He said that “the support of Al-Shabab and Al-Qaeda for Boko Haram, until recently, was initially restricted to providing technical assistance such as training as well as arms and ammunition.”
The source stated that the revelations were considered interesting by the military since they would aid in planning for future operations.
He said, “All along, we had been suspecting the hand of international terror organisations in the fight; most of the patterns of these attacks indicated their involvement.
“This could be a confirmation; it could be an interesting confirmation which will help in our subsequent approach to the strategy of managing this issue.
“I can confirm to you that several of such foreigners with strange features have been killed.”
The United Kingdom Daily Star had quoted security sources as saying last Tuesday that a British-born Al-Shabab operative, Samantha Lewthwaite, might have had a hand in the Nyanya attack to avenge the killing of Al-Shabab’s terror leader, Makaburi (aka Sheikh Abubakar Ahmed), a fortnight ago by the Kenyan Anti-terror Police Unit.
Makaburi said to belong to the top hierarchy of the terror organisation, was believed to be the one who introduced Lewthwaite to the leadership of Al-Shabab.
It was reported that the top terror suspect whose husband, Germain Lindsay, carried out the bombing of a London tube train that killed 56 people in 2005 wanted revenge for the killing of Makaburi.
“The white widow wanted revenge for the killing of her mentor, terror chief Sheikh Ahmed,” a security source was quoted as having said.
The woman, said to be on the run in Africa with three children since January 2012, is one of the most wanted persons on Interpol’s list.
She is wanted in relation with seven murders and the attack on the West Gate Shopping Mall which resulted in the death of 67 people last year.
Boko Haram had boasted that it was merging with al-Shabab and Al-Qaeda, to form an impregnable terror network.
The United States Africom Commander, Gen. Carter Ham, was quoted as saying that terror groups like Boko Haram, al-Shabab and al-Qaeda were joining forces to carry out coordinated attacks on Africa.
The groups were said to be sharing funds, explosives and having training sessions.
Although the SSS, said it was not aware of Lewthwaite’s involvement in the Nyanya attack, it added that it would welcome any information that could assist security agencies to fish out the perpetrators.
Its Deputy Director, Public Relations, SSS, Marilyn Ogar, said, “I am not aware of the woman’s involvement in the blast; but we welcome every genuine information and tips that could assist security agencies to apprehend those behind it.”
Reacting to the belief that al-Shabab was fighting along with Boko Haram, a former Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, said such would compound the crisis in Nigeria.
He advised that such collaboration should not be treated with levity.
Tsav, who lamented the inability of the military to tame the terrorists, lamented that Boko Haram had “grown from strength to strength” despite the military campaigns against it.
He said,”If it is true that a foreign terrorist group is collaborating with Boko Haram to attack Nigeria, such a partnership will compound our problems because the government has not taken effective action against Boko Haram.”
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