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Nigeria court accuses two men of al Qaeda links

July 06, 2012


Taliban—File Photo
Militants— File Photo

ABUJA: A Nigerian court on Thursday accused two men of having links with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and of receiving funds from the militant group, court papers said.

Olaniyi Babafemi Lawal, 31, and Luqman Babatunde, 30, were also accused of planning to use the money “to recruit and transport prospective members of a terrorist group to Yemen”.

Militant group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is mainly active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Nigeria - Africa's most populous nation, split between a mainly Christian south and a predominantly Muslim north - has bit hit by a series of deadly attacks blamed on another militant group, Boko Haram.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the six-count charge and the Abuja federal high court adjourned until October 2. Judge Gladys Olotu ordered their remand in prison until then.

The two were accused of receiving “monies in Saudi riyals and US dollars equivalent to one million naira (about $6,200; 5,000 euros) from a terrorist organisation known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” court papers said.

They were also accused of planning to use the money “to recruit and transport prospective members of a terrorist group to Yemen,” violating Nigeria's anti-terrorism law, it said.

Other charges leveled at the men included arranging “a meeting which you know is connected with an act of terrorism” and providing logistics for the same purpose, the papers said.

Boko Haram, which has previously threatened to strike US interests, has claimed attacks that have killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009.

It is responsible for scores of attacks in recent months and has repeatedly attacked churches, typically on Sundays and holidays.

Last month, Washington designated three Boko Haram leaders as global terrorists; a move it said was aimed to help stem the violence in Nigeria.

Nigeria's Khalid al-Barnawi, labeled a “global terrorist” by the US government, is alleged to be an al Qaeda-linked militant with Boko Haram ties involved in foreigners' abductions.

A statement from the US State Department described Barnawi as tied to Boko Haram and with “close links to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” or al Qaeda's north African branch.