Nigerian Authorities Uncover Iranian Weapons in Possible New Smuggling Route to Hamas

June 5, 2013

Publication Type: 

  • International Enforcement Actions

Weapon Program: 

  • Military

Mentioned Suspect Entities & Suppliers: 

Related Country: 

  • Nigeria


Wisconsin Project Staff

On May 13, 2013, a Nigerian court sentenced Azim Aghajani, allegedly a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and his Nigerian accomplice Ali Usman Abbas Jega, to five years in prison for their role in an arms smuggling case. Aghajani and Jega were charged with falsifying shipping documents and hiding mortars and rockets among 13 containers of building.  The arms shipment was due for re-export to the Gambia, according to court documents, and may have been destined for a rebel group in southern Senegal.

Nigerian authorities intercepted the Iranian arms as they were unloaded in Tin Can Port, Lagos on July 15, 2010. The weapons, dispatched by Behineh Trading Co. of Tehran in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1747, included 240 tons of ammunition, 107mm rockets, and 60mm, 81mm and 120mm mortar shells. The French-based shipping company CMA-CGM, which carried the shipment, said a false cargo declaration was to blame. Israeli defense sources reportedly believe that Nigeria may be a new stop on a smuggling route from Iran to Hamas.

Several entities have been sanctioned for their involvement in this incident as well as their ties to Iran’s Qods Force, a unit of the IRGC. Ali Akbar Tabatabaei, Azim Aghajani, and Behineh Trading Co. were sanctioned by the European Union on December 1, 2011 for their role in "furnishing ammunition from Iran via Nigeria." Esmail Ghani, Ali Abbas Usman Jega, Aghajani, Tabatabaei, and Behineh Trading Co. were added to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control on March 27, 2012. The United Nations also designated Aghajani, Tabatabaei, and Behineh Trading Co. on April 18, 2012 for violating resolution 1747, which prohibits arms exports from Iran.


[1] “Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1929 (2010) – Final Report,” United Nations Report, May 7, 2011.

[2] Nick Tattersall, “Weapons Seized in Nigeria Came From Iran: Shipping Co,” Reuters, October 31, 2010.

[3] "Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1245/2011 of 1 December 2011, Implementing Regulation (EU) No 961/2010 on restrictive measures against Iran," Official Journal of the European Union, L319/13, December 2, 2011.

[4] "Treasury Targets Iranian Arms Shipments," Press Release, U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 27, 2012.

[5] Consolidated entity list of the committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1737, United Nations Security Council, April 18, 2012.

[6] "UN sanctions against Iranians in arms smuggling," Associated Foreign Press, April 20, 2012.

[7] “Iranian Azim Aghajani convicted over Nigeria arms,” BBC, May 13, 2013.