January 1, 2018 remains a black New Year Day for many Nigerians.

Over 20 people were killed in Rivers State on their way from watch night service, and at least 70 people were brutally murdered in Benue state by herdsmen. Other states in Nigeria also experienced a bloody start to the new year.

Some arrests were made, and during interrogation, it has now been established that some of the suspects are not Nigerians.

The Department of State Service (DSS) says it has identified an Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) network operating within some North Central and South-South sections of the country.

In a security report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari, it was indicated that ISWA network was using foreign terrorists and recruiting young men to fight and kill innocent persons ostensibly to exacerbate tensions along the county’s ethnic, religious and regional fault lines.

A source revealed to NAN that among those in custody were many who spoke none of the languages native to Nigeria but the French language.

“This is the first time that security officials have confirmed that the Islamic State in West Africa members are operating as a unit in Nigeria and the level of their penetration of the country," the source added.

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The source further revealed that a “good number”of the Islamic State terrorists had been arrested not only in the Benue valley but significantly in several towns in Edo, specifically in Akoko-Edo, Okpella and Benin as well as in Okene, in Kogi.

“It is understood that the cell, which has members in different parts of the country concentrates on recruiting young men to fight for the Islamic State in West Africa by unleashing the cold-blooded murder of innocent citizens.

“There was intelligence that they had planned several attacks here, before and during Christmas and the New Year. Their bombing targets included fuel depots, foreign missions and police and military establishments.

“Their network is very wide. But so much was achieved by the DSS which had made a significant number of arrests in the last two months that helped to preempt those attacks.

“This helped to save Nigeria from the spate of major terrorist attacks witnessed elsewhere that were syndicated by ISIS worldwide,’’ the source maintained.

NAN gathered that the reports submitted to the presidency had also revealed that security officials now fear an influx of other ISIS members into many parts of the country.

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