Nigeria: Three Lebanese nationals cleared of terrorism

Military officials stand near ammunitions seized from suspected members of Hezbollah after a raid of a building in Nigeria's northern city of Kano May 30, 2013 Nigerian officials said the ammunitions seized in May belonged to Hezbollah

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Three men suspected of being members of Hezbollah have been cleared of terrorism charges by a Nigerian court.

The men, all Lebanese nationals, were arrested in May after the discovery of weapons in the northern city of Kano.

They denied accusations of plotting attacks on Western and Israeli targets in Nigeria.

One of the men was convicted on a weapons charge and jailed for life. Nigerian officials had described the weapons cache as a "cell of Hezbollah".

The defence lawyer for the three men - Mustapha Fawaz, Abdallah Thahini and Talal Ahmad Roda - said he was happy that the terrorism charges had been dismissed.

Ahmed Raji said: "We are happy and slightly not comfortable with respect to the third accused [Roda, who was jailed]."

He said he would consult with Roda about an appeal.

Ammunition seized from suspected members of Hezbollah are displayed after a raid of a building in Nigeria's northern city of Kano May 30, 2013 Nigeria's military said the weapons had been carefully stored in sawdust

There is a large business Lebanese community in Kano, the commercial hub of northern Nigeria, as in many cities across West Africa.

Nigerian authorities' statements in May represented the first time they had alleged that the Lebanese Shia movement had an operational interest in the country.

Hezbollah is considered by the US to be a terrorist organisation.

Analysts had expressed surprise at the claim of a possible link between Hezbollah and the Nigerian insurgents, Boko Haram, which follows the strict Salafi interpretation of Sunni Islam.

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