Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nigeria SSS Infiltrated: High Profile Contacts of the Security Service Released Online by Alleged Boko Haramists

AP is reporting that personnel records of former and current members of our top domestic spy agency, including home addresses and names of immediate family members, leaked onto the Internet in a threatening message that claimed to come from a radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram.

The leak of personal data of more than 60 past and current employees of Nigeria's State Security Service remained easily accessible on the Internet for days and had details about the agency's director-general, including his mobile phone number, bank account particulars and contact information for his son.

Some of the agents who could be reached on phone explained that they received no official warning from the spy agency that their information had been posted online nor been otherwise alerted. The material has been deleted from the comment section of a website, but the security breach astonished veterans and calls into question whether Nigeria's intelligence community, whose agents already have released suspected terrorists out of religious and ethnic sympathies, are too compromised from within to stop the violence plaguing the country.

"This is a national embarrassment," said one intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as information about the leak was not to have been made public.

Marilyn Ogar, a spokeswoman for the SSS, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday about the leak.

Though the comments have been removed from the website, cached versions of the comments remain online and intelligence service agents have been killed by Boko Haram members in the past.

The list includes former and current agents across the country, including Director-General Ekpeyong Ita. Those reached by the AP who were willing to talk expressed disbelief that sensitive information like that could make its way to the Internet.

"I was shocked to see my details posted on the Internet," said one former agent, who declined to be named out of safety concerns. "I've not heard anything from anybody. I was surprised that such information could be leaked."

Another man on the list said he simply once served as a doctor to help the agency on an on-call basis only. The list appeared to include lower-ranking agents, as well as one-time state directors for the agency.

Some of those contacted suggested that the list appeared to come from the agency's pension department, as it mostly included retirees and listed bank account information for nearly all those named.

The release of the information comes as Nigeria's intelligence agencies have made a series of blunders in trying to fight Boko Haram in Africa's most populous country, with some likely influenced by ethnic or religious sentiments.

It is unclear if the person who posted the information online really does have ties to Boko Haram, which has targeted security officials in the past. Violence has been centered mostly in the country's Muslim north. One retired agent who spoke to AP said he was grateful he lives in the largely Christian south, away from the sect's attacks.
"It's worrying that they have access to that," the agent said. "Those living in Abuja (and the north) are the ones who should living in fear."

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