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Monday, September 7, 2009

Nigeria: ‘Boko Haram bomb expert trained in Afghanistan’

Nigeira’s Borno State Police Command has discovered a bomb specialist sponsored by fundamentalist Boko Haram sect for training in Afghanistan. Boko Haram, which means Western Education is Sin, caused an uprising in July that left some 700 people dead. Abdulrasheed Abubakar, aged 23, confessed to the authorities that he was sent to the country by the sect's late leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and was promised the sum of N5.5 million upon return. He learnt how to manufacture local bombs for the group's use, the police disclosed.
Previously, a Christian by name Jeremiah Samuel, the Boko Haram faithful was converted to Islam seven months ago by one Mallam Umar in Yola, the Adamawa State capital. Abubakar claimed that he had a Diploma in Theology from Christ Disciples Bible Church, Enugu. He was influenced by the Ramadan preaching of Yusuf that was recorded on a tape, he said.According to him, “I was introduced to Mohammed Yusuf by a friend, having listened to some of his preaching. I was really fascinated by the Islamic teaching not the Boko Haram ideology," he confessed.
Abubakar continued: "The sect leader took me to the Abuja airport from Maiduguri in a Toyota Sienna bus. I travelled with another man who identified himself as Ali Mohammed and underwent a three-month training in Afghanistan.” Information made available to THISDAY shows that he was arrested by the police at an undisclosed hideout in Yola and brought to Maiduguri where the headquarters of the sect (Markas) was located, on his return to Nigeria. He said he took off from Nigeria to Afghanistan through South Africa, claiming that all the travelling documents were retrieved from him as soon as he came back from the trip in late July.
He did not name the airline which he boarded from Nigeria to South Africa before connecting to Afghanistan. Narrating his journey, Abubakar said: “Mohammed Yusuf gave the two of us who went for the training some telephone numbers of our trainers and we called them as soon as we arrived in Afghanistan. I can’t recollect the town or place where the training took place because they covered our faces and led us to a house where we spent about three months,” he explained.
The Borno State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdul, told journalists that the suspected bomb specialist was picked up in Yola by the police following intelligence reports. Abdul disclosed that some arms including seven hand-made rocket propelled grenades, over seven locally made pistols, rifles and casting pistols were recovered from Boko Haram hideouts.
He said that the police would be proactive in discharging its duties.Abubakar was born in Numan, Adamawa State. He comes from the Bachama tribe. He claimed that he speaks Hausa, Fulfude and Igbo. He said that he was adequately briefed by the sect leader of his mission before he was sent to Afghanistan.
The sect's leader died in July, in an incident decried by some as summary execution. The authorities previously stated that Yusuf lost his life during a shoot-out with the police.A picture showing him in handcuffs emerged, casting doubt on the statement issued by police authorities. It also emerged that the police received several warnings and tip-off about the activities of Boko Haram. One of its leaders was also arrested but later released on bail.
The issue came to the fore when the group attacked a police station in Bauchi. The altercation between the police and members of the sect spread to Maiduguri and Yobe States, leading to the destruction of properties and loss of lives. Some Christians detained by the group were later released. Details of the death of some were released to newsmen too.
Source: Thisdayonline.com

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