US embassy cable - 01ABUJA2560

TFUS01: NIGERIA: NSA MOHAMMED ON TERRORISM

Identifier: 01ABUJA2560
Wikileaks: View 01ABUJA2560 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abuja
Created: 2001-10-11 09:19:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PTER EFIN KCRM NI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002560 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPT FOR INL 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/08/2011 
TAGS: PREL, PTER, EFIN, KCRM, NI 
SUBJECT: TFUS01: NIGERIA: NSA MOHAMMED ON TERRORISM 
 
 
REF: A. STATE 170698 
     B. STATE 175419 
     C. STATE 170551 
     D. ABUJA 2521 
 
 
(U) Classified by Ambassador Howard F. Jeter; Reasons 1.5 (b) 
and (d). 
 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador Jeter, accompanied by PolCouns and 
PolMilOff, called on NSA Aliyu Mohammed on October 8. Foreign 
Minister, Sule Lamido, Kaduna Governor Makarfi, Adobe Obe, 
Foreign Affairs advisor to President Obasanjo, and LTC Idris 
also attended.  This message covers their conversation on 
U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan and counter-terrorism, 
including anti-money laundering efforts and the upcoming 
bilateral law enforcement meeting.  Segments on Sudan, DRC 
and Burundi are covered septel. 
 
 
2. (C) SUMMARY CONTINUED: The NSA stated the GON would make a 
supportive public statement on U.S. military actions the 
afternoon of October 8 (which was done).  He took note of the 
need for MLAT ratification and the urgent need to bolster 
Nigeria's anti-money laundering legal regime. While 
supportive of a change in venue for the bilateral law 
enforcement meeting, the NSA stated the Minister of Justice 
had the final word.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
=============================== 
Bin Laden and the U.S. Response 
=============================== 
 
 
3. (C) After summarizing his October 7 conversation with 
President Obasanjo about the impending military strikes, the 
Ambassador emphasized to the NSA that U.S. actions had been 
and would continue to be measured.  Moreover, the action 
against Taliban military targets were coupled with large 
dollops of humanitarian support for the Afghani people. 
Describing generally the information contained Ref A as 
strong evidence of the complicity of Bin Laden and Al-Qa'ida 
in the September 11 infamy and previous attacks against the 
U.S., the Ambassador stressed that the global reach of the 
organization threatened all nations, including Nigeria.  NSA 
Mohammed, noting that Bin Laden had struck in Africa before 
he struck in America, stated that the GON took the threat 
seriously.  Now that "the heat is on these groups," he was 
concerned they would "melt into Africa" where the borders 
were porous and the banking system lacked controls. President 
Obasanjo was talking to other African Heads of State about 
the need to improve their abilities to counter this threat, 
Mohammed remarked. 
 
 
4. (C) Ambassador Jeter recalled that one of the September 11 
terrorists had apparently been in Nigeria.  The NSA responded 
the Nigerian visa in the terrorist's passport was a forgery. 
Noting that the passport also bore entry and exit stamps, the 
Ambassador remarked that the question of why Nigerian travel 
entries were in the passport at all needed to be answered. 
Shifting the focus from the Ambassador's inquiry, the NSA 
offered that the GON would make a statement endorsing the 
U.S. military actions.  Thanking the NSA, Ambassador Jeter 
urged that the statement explicitly tie our action to the 
right to self-defense as contained in the UN Charter. 
(COMMENT: Press reports on the statement do not mention 
reference to the UN Charter.  Nonetheless, the statement is 
supportive, reiterating that the U.S. is targeting 
terrorists, not innocent Muslims.  END COMMENT.) 
 
 
==================================== 
COUNTER-TERRORISM EFFORTS IN NIGERIA 
==================================== 
 
 
5. (C) Discussing Nigeria's counter-terrorism apparatus, the 
NSA explained that he chaired a weekly meeting of the Nigeria 
Intelligence Agency, the State Security Service and the 
Defense Intelligence Agency, the Special Nigerian "Task 
Force" that has been mentioned in previous reporting. 
Additionally, his office was developing a seminar for the 
police, customs, immigration, and port officials to increase 
awareness of the threat of terrorism.  A second seminar was 
also being arranged to raise awareness of officials at the 
local and state levels.  Separately, the President planned to 
establish an interagency National Security Commission, but 
this would be designed to handle internal security matters 
only, such as preventing inter-communal conflicts. 
 
 
=========================== 
FAFT - STILL NOT GETTING IT 
=========================== 
 
 
6. (C) Remarking that preventing money laundering was 
cardinal in the fight against terrorism, the Ambassador 
pointed out that Nigeria, decertified by the FATF, was now on 
a list of non-compliant countries (Ref C).  The current 
money-laundering regime, which focused only on monies derived 
from the narcotics trade, was insufficient to combat the 
financial arm of terrorism.  The bank regulatory system was 
weak and there was no way to track the funds flowing through 
Nigeria,  Jeter noted.  Moreover, Nigeria had tarried in 
responding to the FATF questionnaire.  Nigeria needed to move 
decisively to cure these flaws in order to maintain its 
position in the vanguard against terrorism, the Ambassador 
asserted. 
 
 
7. (C) Surprised the FATF questionnaire had not been 
answered, the NSA promised to get the relevant departments to 
quickly complete the task.  He also requested our help in 
identifying the curative measures Abuja must take to overcome 
the decertification.  The NSA rushed to mention that the 
President's plan for an agency to deal with financial crimes 
(the Financial Crimes Commission) was being vetted by the 
Federal Executive Council (Cabinet) and then would be passed 
to the National Assembly for approval.  The process should be 
completed by year's end, Mohammed offered. 
 
 
8. (C) In an attempt to save face, the NSA complained Nigeria 
had thus far received "zero support from the U.S." to recover 
the Abacha funds.  Ambassador Jeter responded that the 
Embassy's LEGATT was working with his GON counterpart.  Now 
that forensic documents had been shared with Washington, he 
hoped progress would be visible soon.  However, Nigeria had 
not ratified the 1989 MLAT, which the U.S. ratified in early 
2001.  The MLAT would ease cooperation in this area, the 
Ambassador contended.  The NSA, noting that the U.S. took 
over 10 years to ratify the treaty, said, "Our Senate will do 
it in three months." 
 
 
================================= 
BILATERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT MEETING 
================================= 
 
 
9. (C) Explaining that the U.S. law enforcement community's 
attention was focused on counter-terrorism, the Ambassador 
told the NSA that the U.S. hoped to shift the venue for the 
November bilateral law enforcement meeting to Washington. 
The NSA stated that he understood but must remain officially 
neutral as a venue change would have to be agreed to by the 
Minister of Justice. 
 
 
10. (C) COMMENT: The GON continues to privately and publicly 
support U.S. counter-terrorism efforts.  Recent events have 
clearly focused the attention of this government on its own 
needs to address this threat.  Inertia and lack of 
communication and coordination between Ministries 
notwithstanding, we will keep pressing and hope to see some 
action from the GON, particularly on the money laundering 
front.  Due to President Obasanjo's penchant for regional 
initiatives, we expect that, through ECOWAS or an ad hoc 
grouping of African nations, Obasanjo will push for a 
political consensus to restrict the ability of terrorists to 
operate in the sub-region.  END COMMENT. 
Jeter 

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