The embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom in Abuja have reacted to Wednesday’s announcement by the State Security Service that five suspected Boko Haram operatives with ties to the Islamic State terror group were arrested while plotting to attack the two missions.
In the announcement, which was circulated to the media on behalf of the SSS by Tony Opuiyo, the secret police said the terror plots were thwarted following a nationwide crackdown on terrorists and kidnappers between March and April.
The SSS identified the suspected terrorists as Isa Jibril, Jibril, Abu Omale Jibril, Halidu Sule and Ahmodu Salifu. They were arrested between March 25 and 26, in Benue State and Abuja, the agency said.
“The group had perfected plans to attack the UK and American Embassies and other western interests in Abuja,” the SSS said.
In separate reactions to the announcement, the U.S. and U.K. Embassies said their respective governments appreciate the efforts of Nigerian authorities in neutralising terror threats.
“The United States appreciates the work of Nigerian security forces in fighting terrorism and keeping citizens and residents safe,” U.S. Embassy spokesperson, Russell Brooks, said in an email . “Nigeria and the United States continue to have a strong partnership in countering violent extremism.”
Also responding to enquiries, Joseph Abuku, spokesperson for the U.K. Embassy, conveyed British government’s gratitude to Nigerian security agencies in protecting their diplomatic staff and premises, adding that they were “in regular contact with the Nigerian security authorities concerning potential threats to UK interests in Nigeria.”
Both spokespersons declined specific comments relating to the announced foiled terror attacks.
A diplomatic source, however, said that no email was circulated to personnel of the embassies about the development, and also raised questions about why it took days for it to be announced.
“That usually means the embassies have not been briefed or able to independently verify the claims of the SSS,” an official said. “It’s also curious that they had to wait several days to add such high-profile operation in what seemed like a routine press statement.”