Nigeria on Saturday said it had foiled Boko Haram plans for a coordinated series of attacks across the country during celebrations for the recent festival of Eid al-Adha. The country’s intelligence agency, the Department of State Services (DSS), said it had disrupted “sinister plans to cause mayhem and destruction” during the public holiday weekend last week. “The plan was to conduct gun attacks and suicide bombing on selected targets in the federal capital territory, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Niger, Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states,” said DSS spokesman Tony Opuiyo. The alleged mastermind of the planned attacks, identified as Husseini Mai-Tangaran, was arrested in the northern city of Kano on August 31, leading to the detention of a number of others, he added.
Mai-Tangaran was described as a “well-known” commander in the Abu Mus’ab al-Barnawi-led faction of Boko Haram, which is supported by the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. The DSS also said he was behind the November 2014 attacks on the Kano central mosque, which killed at least 120. He was said to be an expert in improvised explosive devices who had been involved in preparing suicide bomb attacks by others in the past in the northeast. Nigeria's security services often claim to have foiled major Boko Haram plots and made arrests, but announcement of charges, prosecutions and convictions have been rare. The most high-profile case currently in court is that of Khalid al-Barnawi, a leader of the moribund Boko Haram offshoot, Ansaru, on charges of abducting and murdering a number of foreign workers.