update from 29/08: ” Nigeria charged two of its citizens on Wednesday with assisting an Iranian militant cell in planning possible attacks on Israeli targets, alleging that one had traveled to Tehran and Dubai to receive cash and had known about spying on Israeli interests.”
On October 26th 2010, 13 shipping containers loaded with weapons (11 anti-tank weapons, 4 anti-tank mines, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), 21 RPG missiles, numerous 107 mm artillery rockets, 17 AK-47s, 2 sub-machine guns and 76 grenades) originating in Iran were seized by the authorities in Nigeria.
The Nigerians initially thought that the consignment of weapons was meant for “some local politicians to destabilize the country if they lose in upcoming elections“. They were later informed by Iran’s Ambassador Hussein Abdullahi that the final destination was Gambia and further investigations pointed to Senegal – both Gambia and Senegal cut off diplomatic relations with Iran following this incident.
In the meantime, Iran’s diplomatic services went into high gear to control damage. Iranian Foreign Minister at the time, Manouchehr Mottaki, flew out to Nigeria to meet his Nigerian counterpart, Odein Ajumogobia, for immediate damage control and then continued to Senegal where he was informed by Tehran that he had been sacked in absentia.
Meanwhile, two Iranian nationals who were implicated in the arms smuggling effort headed directly for the Iranian Embassy and hid there. One of them, Azami Aghajani, an IRGC member and businessman based in Tehran was finally apprehended and sentenced to 5 years in jail /sentenced to 17 year in jail in May 2013. The other suspect, Sayed Akbar Tabatabaei, the Commander of the IRGC-QF Africa Corps, entered Nigeria through a letter of recommendation by Iran’s foreign ministry and managed to escape investigations and Nigeria by claiming Diplomatic Immunity. Another IRGC officials suspected of involvement was identified as Esmail Ghani the Deputy Commander of the IRGC-QF whose authorities include “financial disbursements“.
This is a classic case in which the IRGC and its diplomatic counterpart tried to work together to diffuse an IRGC initiative that unfortunately for them was discovered.
- Iranian Ex-Diplomat Connects Diplomats to Terrorism (diplomaterrorists.wordpress.com)
- Iranian Diplomatic Infrastructure for Terrorism in Germany? (part 1) (shadows-of-diplomacy.com)
- Iranian Diplomatic Infrastructure for Subversion in Germany? (part 2) (shadow-diplomacy.com)
- Iran’s Uranium Diplomacy in Africa (shadow-diplomacy.com)