By TOYOSI OGUNSEYE/Punch
As the country struggles to curb the violent activities of the Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, international intelligence agencies have uncovered plans by al-Qaeda, to launch fresh attacks on Nigeria, Ghana and two other African countries.
Al-Qaeda, which was founded by the late Osama bin Laden, has launched attacks all over the world.
Investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH authoritatively showed that the targeted countries were receiving help from Western nations on how to prevent the onslaught.
However, it was not clear if the attacks would be launched by al-Qaeda in the Maghreb or the main terrorist organisation in the country.
The Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, confirmed the al-Qaeda plot to our correspondent.
Mba, however, noted that such threats were received in the past, and added that security agencies were determined to ensure the group’s plan did not succeed.
According to him, the police are receiving immense support from developed countries that have counter- terrorism expertise.
Mba said, “That al-Qaeda and similar groups want to attack some certain countries is not new. As security operatives, we treat information at our disposal with uttermost care. We test their veracity and analyse them.
“Here in Nigeria, we stop most of the domestic attacks before they take place. We defuse more bombs than they detonate. We save thousands of lives daily but we do this discretely and quietly.
“More than ever, we have so much support from the international community. We are getting help from both ECOWAS and western countries. We are doing our best with the resources we have and we will continue to do so.
“We have stepped up security everywhere but we won’t disclose how we are doing that and the specifics of our mechanisms.
“I want to assure Nigerians and the international community that government is irrevocably committed to its mandate of providing adequate security in the country.”
Ghana, another country on the radar of al-Qaeda, last Tuesday stepped up security at its Kotoka International Airport, Accra, with heavy deployment of soldiers, who frisked passengers using metal detectors.
Armed troops are not a regular feature in Kotota and Ghanaians described the movement of troops as strange.
On Tuesday, Daily Guide, a newspaper in Ghana, had reported that, “Nigeria, three others are said to be on the radar of the terrorist group. Ghana is also said to be on a hit list of an international terrorist group, leading to deployment of soldiers at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra.
“It was learnt that the action of the military was informed by international intelligence fed to Ghana that the country was one of four others being targeted by terrorists for bombing. The presence of the soldiers is therefore a national security response to the alert, a source said.”
When the newspaper contacted Ghana’s Director of the Armed Forces Public Relations Directorate, Col. Mbawine Atintande, he reportedly explained that “there are only a few military policemen at the (airport) place.”
As to whether the operation was a response to certain international threat, Akintande said he would find out.
Just on August 3, 2012, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom warned travellers to Ghana that there was an “underlying threat from terrorism” in the country.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers,” it said.
Al-Qaeda‘s foot prints abound in Nigerian as it has cells in the northern part of the country and had also claimed responsibility for some terrorist activities.
In April, the State Security Service arrested Mohammed Ashafa said to be al-Qaeda linkman with a terror group in Nigeria.
Ashafa was reportedly apprehended by the Pakistani government through the National Intelligence Agency and handed over to the Federal Government for prosecution.
When he was arraigned at the Federal High Court, the SSS told the court that the accused person facilitated terrorist exchange programmes between al-Qaeda and its allies in the country.
The intelligence agency further said its investigations showed that Ashafa was allegedly the second in command to one Adnan Ibrahim, who was said to be the Resident al-Qaeda chief in West Africa, but based in Kano.
Also, in May, al-Qaeda in the Maghreb claimed responsibility for the murder of a German, Edgar Raupach, in Kano.
Raupach was killed by his abductors when security forces tried to free him during a rescue operation.
A Briton, Christopher McManus, and an Italian, Franco Lamolinara suffered similar fate in March.