By Yemi Akinsuyi in Abuja
The man who allegedly oversaw the bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja on August 26, 2011 has been arrested by the Department of State Services. DSS said Mohammed Usman, who is popularly called Khalid Al-Barnawi and operates under various aliases, was apprehended on April 1 in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital. The terrorist bombing of the UN building, which killed more than 20 persons and injured nearly 100 others, is widely acknowledged as the first suicide bomb attack in the country.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the DSS said Al-Barnawi, alias Kafuri/ Naziru/Alhaji Yahaya/Mallam Dauda/Alhaji Tanimu, was a founding member of Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid Da’wah Wa’l-Jihad, the Boko Haram Islamist terror group, before he became the leader (Amir) of the break-away faction, Jama’at Ansarul Muslimim Fi Biladi Sudan (JAMBS). The statement signed by media officer to the DSS, Mr. Tony Opuiyo, described Al-Barnawi as “a trained terrorist commander, who has been coordinating terrorist activities in Nigeria, while talent-spotting and recruiting vulnerable young and able Nigerians for terrorist training by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in North African States and the Middle-East.” The central domestic intelligence agency said Al- Barnawi was “responsible for the bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja, on 26th August, 2011,” among several other terrorist activities in different states. According to the DSS, Al-Barnawi participated in terrorist attacks in Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, and Sokoto states, as well as Abuja, which resulted in the killing and maiming of innocent citizens. He was also involved in the kidnapping of two European civil engineers in Kebbi State in May 2011, and their subsequent murder in Sokoto State; the kidnap of a German engineer, Edgar Raupach, in January 2012, the kidnap and murder of seven expatriate staff of Setraco Construction Company at Jama’are, in Bauchi State, in February, 2013, the attack on troops at Okene, in Kogi State, while on transit to Abuja for an official assignment.
The agency said Al-Barnawi would soon face trial in court after the conclusion of investigation. Al-Barnawi’s arrest is seen as a major setback for the terror network in Nigeria, despite the differences between his group and the mainstream terrorist organisation, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. He is believed to be a key terrorist strategist. DSS stated, “This arrest is a major milestone in the counterterrorism fight of this Service. This arrest has strengthened the Service’s resolve that no matter how long and far perpetrators of crime and their sponsors may run, this Service in collaboration with other sister security agencies, will bring them to justice.” In a related development, DSS alleged at the weekend that members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) were involved in the abduction of five men, Mohammed Gainako, Ibrahim Mohammed, Idris Yakubu, and Isa Mohammed Rago in Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State.
DSS said the kidnspped men were later found killed and buried in shallow graves at the Umuanyi forest, in Abia State, alongside 50 other shallow graves of unidentified persons. DSS alleged, “It is pertinent therefore to alert the general public that IPOB, is gradually showing its true divisive colour and objectives, while steadily embarking on gruesome actions in a bid to ignite ethnic terrorism and mistrust amongst non-indigenes in the South-East region and other parts of the country. Following this act, tension is currently rife among communal stakeholders in the State with possibilities of spill over to other parts of country.”