An elaborate plan by the fundamentalist group, ISIS, to bomb commercial airlines in Nigeria has been uncovered by the Federal Government, forcing it to order immediate tightening of security at the nation's airports.
The plan, conceived to bring "bloodshed to the skies", was exposed in a confidential memo from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) to the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN); and Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
Dated 25 May and signed by OM Olaoye on behalf of the SGF, the memo (H.150/S.91/56) stated that Al-Abd al-Faqir Media, a pro-ISIS media organ,on 26 April, announced the group's plan to cause massive bloodshed through the blowing up of commercial flights in the country.
According to the memo from the OSGF, the threat, issued in Arabic, English, French and which was distributed on online platforms, was accompanied by the image of a shaven-head man holding a knife a sat in the aisle of an aircraft.
"Statements from ISIS-affiliated media groups such as Al-Abd al-Faqir media are often used to advise followers on new attack methods and targets. The image of a white man with a knife in his hand suggests that the attack could be carried out with a knife as was the case during the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001," the memo said.
It recalled that ISIS claimed responsibility for the death of 224 passengers aboard the Russian Metrojet 9268, which exploded shortly after take-off from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in 2105. It was similarly recalled that on 22 April, the fundamentalist media outlet's spokesperson, Abu Hassan Al-Muhajir, outlined the next phase of the jihad when he branded as apostates governments of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Palestine and the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as stating that jihad is the only way.
"The ISIS appears to be re-strategizing with more focus on the Middle East and Asia, following the loss of most of its territories in Iraq and Syria. Although Africa appears not to be on the immediate focus of ISIS, the return to Africa of former ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria as well as ISIS-linked groups such as the suave Abu Musab Al-Barnawi-led Boko Haram faction call for increased vigilance in the aviation sector to counter possible new strategies in the ISIS terror campaign. From the foregoing report, rigorous vetting of airline personnel and screening of passengers as well as well as increased vigilance at restricted areas at airports are advised " the memo said.
Responding, the Nigerian Customs Service, in a memo addressed to all commands, formations and unit heads, directed its officials to intensify the screening of all passengers as well as carrying out any other action deemed necessary to avert the threatened hit by ISIS.
The memo (NCS/T&T/I&E/021/S112), dated 13 June and exclusively obtained by newsbreak.ng, was signed by Mr. KC Ekekezie, Assistant Comptroller-General (Trade and Tariff).