Security forces arrested Abdullahi Berende, Sulaiman Saka and Saheed Adewumi Wednesday in Lagos, Haaretz reported. A fourth alleged member, Benyamin Yosuf, escaped.
Berende allegedly confessed he led the group to plot attacks on the offices of USAID, the Chabad house in Lagos and offices of the Israeli container shipping company, ZIM.
The group was also allegedly planning to assassinate prominent Nigerians, including former military president Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and former Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, Nigerian newspaper The Leadership reported.
"I regret what happened. It is embarrassing to me and everyone around me. I still plead for forgiveness; the whole nation and my family should forgive me and I really regret my actions," Berende said as quoted by The Leadership.
Berende was allegedly recruited by Iranian militants when he studied as an Islamic scholar in Iran in 2006. He allegedly returned to Iran in 2011 to for weapons and espionage training, the Daily Trust reported.
"When people who are not known to you display friendship, one should be careful because you may not know the person's motives. There are people out there hunting for people to exploit and use to achieve their objectives," Berende said.
State Security Services spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said it is believed the men planned to operate out of Lagos because they believed Israelis had an intelligence agency there to spy on Iran.