The kidnap of a German engineer, Edgar Fritz Raupach, in Kano has developed into a knotty issue for Nigeria’s security agencies, following claims that it was carried out by Al Qaeda.
THISDAY learnt that hitherto, the security agencies worked on the theory that Boko Haram was the only terrorist group in Northern Nigeria, but indications are now very strong that this may not be true.
It was even believed that Boko Haram was working in conjunction with Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a faction of Al Qaeda.
Raupach, who works with Dantata and Sawoe, was abducted from one of the company's road building projects on a bridge on the outskirts of the city since January 26.
A purported spokesman of Al Qaeda later said the group was responsible for the kidnap and the group is now demanding that German authorities should release a Muslim woman, Oum Seif Allah Al Ansari, who they said was being subjected to inhumane treatment in a German prison.
Boko Haram is not known to carry out kidnappings and promptly denied claims that it was responsible for the kidnap and eventual deaths of a Briton and an Italian in Sokoto State early this month.
The kidnap of Raupach has led to a manhunt mounted by a combined team of security operatives in the country.
The police said they had no immediate "clear suspicions" as to who were behind the kidnap.
However, AQIM, based in North Africa, last Wednesday, declared that it was responsible for the abduction.
The statement by the group was published by a Mauritanian news portal, Nouakchott Infor-mation Agency website, a medium which has always been used by the group to send messages. The statement published on Wednes-day by the AQIM is demanding the release of Al Ansari
THISDAY gathered at the weekend that Nigerian security chiefs are concerned about the latest development especially the link with Al Qaeda.
They have launched investigation into the Al Qaeda claim and the “swap” demand by the group. They are also looking at the possibility of the faction having a different command structure.
Meanwhile, there was a reported excitement in the camp of Boko Haram leader, Sheikh Abubakar Shekau, over the reported death of a factional militant leader, Abu Mohammed.
Intelligence sources confirmed to THISDAY last night that the Shekau group indirectly helped with the information that led to the location of the hostages held by the Mohammed group in Sokoto, although the rescue operation failed as the two foreigners were killed by their captors.
The Shekau faction of the Boko Haram might have inadvertently given the intelligence that led to the arrests of Mohammed and his “fellow traitors” in Adamawa, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kebbi States during a Shura Council (the highest decision-making body) meeting in Layin Hanwa, Zaria, and the subsequent failed rescue mission in Mabera Estate in Sokoto.
Mohammed broke away and ran a faction of the Boko Haram until he was arrested March 7, 2012 after a gun battle with security agents.
He died March 9 from gunshot wounds. Other suspects may be taken to court next week.
Security sources said Mohammed’s men appeared well-trained and organised, with weapons and armoury that security agents were still trying to unravel their origin.
This sophistication of the faction, apparently aided externally, readily showed in their ability to keep the two hostages away from the extensive security hunt for 10 months.
This dents the claim by the security agencies that they had acquired equipment that could track terrorists anywhere in Nigeria.