BY Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The State Security Service, SSS, yesterday, narrated how an alleged link-man between the Boko Haram Islamic sect and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, Mallam Mohammed Ashafa, was apprehended by the Pakistani government through the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, and handed over to the Federal Government for prosecution.
SSS, which made the disclosure on a day it produced one of its retired investigative agent, Mr Bukar Tarha to testify before a Federal High Court in Abuja, insisted that Ashafa, who is a 46-year-old man of about 5.4 in height, under interrogation, admitted his involvement in both national and international acts of terrorism.
The agency further told the court that the accused person facilitated series of terrorist exchange programmes between the Boko Haram sect and the Al-Qaeda network, stressing that its underground investigations revealed that he was second in command to one Mallam Adnan Ibrahim, who he said was the Resident Chief of al-Qaeda in West Africa, but based in Kano.
Tarha, who retired from the SSS into private practice in 2008, told the court yesterday that Ashafa was under his custody between 2005 and 2006, when he was head of the anti-terrorism department of the SSS, saying he was convinced that the accused person was a die-hard adherent of the Boko Haram ideology.
According to the witness, there was a forwarding letter with a brief that Ashafa was intercepted with the Pakistani Airport in 2004 and subsequent search and investigation by the Pakistani authorities, revealing that he was a member of the al-Qaeda and was sent to Pakistan by the Resident Chief of al-Qaeda in West Africa, Mallam Ibrahim.
He said the accused person was intercepted on his way back to Nigeria with CDs containing coded messages for the West African Chief of the al-Qaeda, adding, “Four months after I took over the schedules of the Head of the anti-terrorism department, other suspects were also intercepted and handed over to the Nigerian government by the Libyan government.”