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Cablegate: Terrorist Arrest Exaggerated

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 000478

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER NI
SUBJECT: TERRORIST ARREST EXAGGERATED

REF: ABUJA 0017

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR PUBLICATION ON THE
INTERNET OR INTRANET.

1. (U) SUMMARY: Press reports claimed that an alleged
agent of al-Qaeda, with links to Saudi Arabia, was arrested
in Kano on 19 February. Further investigation has revealed
that a poison pen letter spurred both the detention and the
press accounts, and the press-reported international
terrorism link may not exist. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Both local and international press reports claimed
that a Sudanese national was arrested on 19 February for
links to a Saudi-funded charity and al-Qaeda. Sheikh
Muhiddin Abdullahi, head of the Almuntada Al-Islami
Foundation in Kano, was said to have funneled funds from
Saudi Arabia, through the Almuntada organization to
"international terrorists."

3. (U) Further investigation of the reports indicate that
Abdullahi was detained for questioning on the basis of a
poison pen letter from a disgruntled employee, Alhaji Sharu,
of the Almontada charity in Kano, claiming that Abdullahi had
"provided security information" to Al-Sunna wal Jama,a, a
splinter Islamic cult involved in violent confrontations with
Nigerian authorities in Yobe state last December (reftel).
According to one high-level GON source, the unhappy staffer
sent a letter to the Nigerian police and the State Security
Services (SSS) office in Kano. This GON source says that
Abdullahi was released on 21 February after questioning.
"They found no evidence" of his ties to either the Nigerian
Al-Sunna group or to international terrorism. Post has
verified from other sources that Abdullahi was indeed
released shortly after being arrested and questioned.

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4. (SBU) COMMENT: "Terrorist" remains a catchword in
Nigeria as elsewhere, and workers often send poison pen
letters to government officials to settle personal scores.
The letter from Sharu to the SSS appears to fit this
category. With the debunking of this particular press story,
concrete information about potential Nigerian ties to
international terrorist organizations remains elusive.
ROBERTS

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