Two Nigerians Charged With Links To Yemen Al Qaeda

by
Reuters
Two Nigerians have been charged with collecting money from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen to pay for training for Nigerian militants, a court document shows.

* Charges say Lagos men received AQAP cash for training

* Islamists plague Nigeria, but evidence of Yemen link thin

Two Nigerians Charged With Links To Yemen Al Qaeda

ABUJA, July 6 (Reuters) - Two Nigerians have been charged with collecting money from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen to pay for training for Nigerian militants, a court document shows.

The document filed late on Thursday at the Federal High Court said two men from Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos were accused of being members of the group and of collecting around $6,200 in U.S. dollars and Saudi riyals.

Neither of the accused was available for comment. If the men were convicted, it would be the first case to directly link Nigerian militant groups to AQAP.

Security sources say the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram, which launched an uprising in the country's largely Muslim north in 2009, has linked up with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), sending a few dozen fighters to Mali for training.

Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, jailed in the United States for a failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009, was seen as a loner with no known links to Boko Haram or any other Nigerian Islamist group.

Prosecutors said that plot was directed by U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who had become an al Qaeda leader in Yemen, where Abdulmutallab had been studying.

The document, filed in the court in the capital Abuja, said that, "Lukaman Babatunde, 30, at Lagos between June and July 2011...provided facilities for a meeting which you know is connected to an act of terrorism."

His accomplice Olaniyi Lawal collected the cash "with intent that the said money shall be used to recruit and transport members of a terrorist organisation from Nigeria to Yemen for combat training in terrorism," it said. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Myra MacDonald)