United States is considering taking a tough stance on Boko Haram, it emerged yesterday.
The US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security released a report yesterday on what it termed the emerging threat from Boko Haram, according to Huffington Post.
Boko Haram piqued the interest of some Capitol Hill lawmakers when it bombed the United Nations House in Abuja in one of a series of attacks.
The report by the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, chaired by Rep. Patrick Meehan, warns against underestimating Boko Haramâ€™s intent and capability to attack the U.S. homeland. It urges the State Department to investigate whether the group should be designated a foreign terrorist organisation. It also recommends increasing intelligence gathering on Boko Haram, including reaching out to Nigerian immigrants in the United States and boosting U.S. government support for Nigerian efforts to counter the group.
In Abuja yesterday, the State Security Service (SSS) paraded members of four syndicates, who allegedly specialise in sending threat telephone calls, text messages and e-mails to prominent politicians and foreign embassies for the purpose of extorting money from their victims.
Four members of one of the syndicate groups operate from Suleja, Niger State and Zuba in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). They are Stanley Ochuwa, Emmanuel Chinonyerem, Onyedikachi Akpasue and Mathias Akuegbo.
Operating under code names of Col. Murphy, Col. Adams, Col. Mordi and Engr. Emma Nwachukwu, the men confessed to sending to prominent citizens and politicians messages to instill fear and cause panic.
They send the messages warning their victims that they have been marked for assassination and that they would spare their lives, if the victims could pay a ransom into specified bank accounts.
Among the GSM lines used are 08033832929 and 07038867338. The men claimed that they usually obtain the telephone numbers of their victims from documents and complimentary cards taken from refuse dump sites of government ministries, departments, agencies and on the Internet.
SSS spokesperson, Ms Marilyn Ogar said some highly placed Nigerians, including an unnamed senator, have fallen victim to the syndicates.
Another member of a different syndicate, who operates from Kaduna, Haruna Alhaji Hassan (a.k.a Alhaji Madu Gana) allegedly threatened a former governor, now a senator, a Federal Permanent Secretary, a woman party leader in Maiduguri and a party chairman in Bauchi.
According to Ogar, Hassan introduces himself as the secretary of the dreaded Boko Haram sect and usually asks his victims to donate money for the purpose of propagating Islam or risk being bombed.
Ogar added that Hassan had received various sums of money, ranging from N30, 000 to N100, 000 from some of his terrified victims through a Union Bank account.
A sample of some of his messages from his operational GSM number 08052611833 reads: â€œWe are still aware with you and we will soon get to you. Insha Allah, expect us.â€
Another suspect, Maurice Efe Lawrence, who hails from Delta State operates from Calabar with three GSM numbers â€“ 08100428701, 08080468686 and 070383912813. He scares victims by threatening to bomb some cities, the SSS said.
He usually lists cities, such as Abuja, Port Harcourt, Jos, Katsina, Damaturu, Maiduguri, Lagos, Dutse and Akure.
One of his text messages to a director in the Ministry of Information reads: â€œA bomb attack is to take place on Friday and I have every detail even if you donâ€™t want to be involved, send me the number of any SA or PA to Information Minister.â€
Lawrence was also said to have claimed through text messages that he has information on plans to assassinate a governorship candidate in Kogi State and an armed robbery in Ondo State.
He was also caught with telephone numbers of some prominent politicians, public servants and private individuals which he claimed to have got from the Internet.
Another one, Chiwendu Josiah, from Imo State, who works in a cyber cafe in Benin-City, allegedly by sends threat e-mails to foreign embassies, alerting them of pending bomb attacks.
The SSS spokesperson said from investigation, it was established that Josiah was the author of the security threat messages that prompted some foreign embassies to issue travel alerts during the last Eid-el-Kabir celebrations.
He sends his messages with a cloned GSM number 081881816038 and e-mail addresses; engr-wendy.netguescyber @hotmail.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
His text messages: â€œWe are Boko Haram, we are coming for youâ€; â€œThe brotherhood remains one indivisible entity. There is no split and there is no splinter group. Stories of split are tissues of lies by the State Security Service to discredit us. Call on all true faithful who believe in our cause to join us by enlisting as a follower and become a member of the brotherhood in our site.â€
Josiah is said to have confessed to have been involved in Internet scams since1998.
The SSS stated that criminal elements have taken advantage of the current security situation in the country to cause panic and extort money from prominent members of the society.
Ogar advised top government functionaries and prominent citizens to be careful how they dispose used documents and other materials containing their vital details.â€