The main suspect in the affair, a Shi’ite cleric named Abdullahi Mustapha Berende
African students carrying a poster condemning Israel and the United States and waving (left) the Hezbollah flag.
Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs: the accusations against Iran were made up by the enemies of Iran and Nigeria
Nigerian security forces discover the weapons stowed aboard the ship.
1. On February 20, 2013, Nigeria’s Department of State Security Service announced the exposure of an Iranian-backed terrorist squad. It was planning to carry out an attack on U.S. and Israeli/Jewish targets in Lagos, the business capital and largest city in Nigeria. The three-member squad was led by a Nigerian Shi’ite cleric who had been trained in Iran and received instruction in IED manufacture (punchng.com, February 21, 2013).
2. The arrest of the Nigerian squad is yet another example of the intensive subversive and terrorist activities carried out by Iran across the globe, including in Africa. These activities are aimed not only against Israel but also against the United States (for instance, a terrorist and espionage network exposed in Azerbaijan in 2012 was planning to hit Israeli and U.S. targets) and its Arab allies (such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain).
3. The modus operandi exposed by Nigeria’s intelligence services is particularly noteworthy for the use made by Iran of Shi’ite populations in various countries across the globe (in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Central Asia). For its missions of subversion and terrorism, Iran recruits ordinary citizens or clerics who study at Iranian religious seminaries, universities, and education institutions. Studying in Iran is meant to assist in the creation of an ideological, socio-religious, and cultural infrastructure within the Shi’ite communities for the purpose of spreading Khomeini’s brand of radical Shi’ite Islam.
Indoctrination of African students
African students who study in the Iranian city of Qom with a poster condemning the United States and Israel and supporting the Iranian regime at a Jerusalem Day demonstration (September 18, 2009). Left: African students carrying a poster condemning Israel and the United States and waving (left) the Hezbollah flag. Right: a poster written in Hausa, a language spoken in the predominantly Muslim northern part of Nigeria. At the center is a Nigerian flag whose pole touches the poster (Fars News Agency).
The terrorist squad and its activity in Nigeria
4. The squad was headed by Abdullahi Mustapha Berende, a 50-year-old Shi’ite cleric and leader of a Shi’ite sect in Ilorin, Nigeria. He was arrested in December 2012. The two other squad members were Sulaiman Olayinka Saka and Saheed Adermi Adewumi. Another suspect, Bunyamin Yusuf, is said to be at large. The squad members were gathering information on Israelis and Americans living in Nigeria (punchng.com, February 21, 2013).
5. Marilyn Ogar, deputy director of public relations in Nigeria’s State Security Service, gave the following details about the activity of the terrorist squad:
a. The squad leader’s recruitment, training, and handling: Berende, a Shi’ite Muslim preacher, stayed in Iran in 2006, during which time he took a six-month da’wah course at Imam Khomeini University. While in Iran, he was recruited by “some Iranian elements”. When he came back to Iran for additional studies in 2011, he received training in the use of the AK-47 assault rifle and pistols as well as in IEDs. He was invited by his handlers to Dubai for further briefing in April 2012.
b. Creating a terrorist squad: Berende’s mission was to establish a terrorist squad in the southwestern part of Nigeria, with particular emphasis on the city of Lagos. In his bid to establish the terrorist squad, Berende recruited the three other suspects (punchng.com, February 21, 2013).
c. The missions and their execution: Berende was asked by the Iraniansto collect intelligence on public places and hotels frequented by Americans and Israelis. He admitted that he personally took photographs ofthe Israeli cultural center (Chabad House) in Lagos, which he sent to his handlers (punchng.com, February 21, 2013). In addition, Berende collected information on USAID offices in Lagos (news2.onlinenigeria.com, February 21, 2013).
d. Communications: Berende’s Iranian handlers directed him to secure their communication by using codes to represent targets, e.g. Uncle (Israel), Aunt (America).
e. Payment: Berende received $4,000 from the Iranians upon completion of his training in Iran; €3,500 in April 2012 at the meeting in Dubai; and another $20,000, out of which he used $10,000 to rent and furnish a house in Lagos as well as a shop for his business. He also spent $5,000 to cover visa processing expenses (punchng.com, February 21, 2013).
6. Iran, as usual, denied the allegations of having trained operatives to carry out attacks on Israeli and U.S. targets. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, said that the allegations against Iran were made up by the enemies of Iran and Nigeria because of the good relationship that the two countries enjoy. He went on to say that Iran and Nigeria have a close friendship, and that despite the extensive efforts made in recent years by their enemies to disrupt that friendship, the relations and cooperation are only improving (Press TV, February 22, 2013).
7. Two appendices follow:
a. Appendix I: Iran’s political and economic activity in Nigeria
b. Appendix II: Exposure of an arms shipment from Iran to Nigeria (October 2010)
 For an example of how educational, religious, and social activities are used as a vehicle for exporting subversion and terrorism, see our April 18, 2012 Information Bulletin: “Latin America as a Terrorist, Subversive, Criminal Arena for Iran and Hezbollah”.
 Ilorin is one of Nigeria’s largest cities and the capital of Kwara State, in the southwestern part of Nigeria.