The Makings of a Terrorist State

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Despite a recent UN report that found the country of Eritrea, located on the Horn of Africa, to be actively planning terrorist attacks as well as funding a wide array of terror groups, the Obama administration has declined to list it as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The report by a UN monitoring group in June 2011 alleged the Eritrean government was providing military, financial and logistical support to Islamist and other militant terror organizations throughout East Africa, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Sudan.

The terrorist and militant groups receiving Eritrean support include Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam; Ethiopia’s Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF); and Djibouti’s Front pour le Restauration de la Democratie (FRUD).

Eritrean support to these terror outfits include “training, people smuggling, arms trafficking, money laundering and extortion,” all facilitated by a large number of Eritrean political, military and intelligence officials. Moreover, Eritrea has established its own training camps, built for the purpose of training foreign fighters.

While Eritrea has outsourced most of the implementation of its terrorist agenda, it has proven quite willing to undertake terrorist activities on its own. That willingness was cited in the UN report as well, which alleged that the Eritrean government was behind a failed plot to bomb several civilian and government targets in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa during an African Union (AU) summit in January 2011.

According to the UN report, the Eritrean aim was to make Addis Ababa “like Baghdad” by setting off car bombs outside AU headquarters and assassinating targeted AU delegates.

For its part, the UN Security Council had already imposed sanctions against Eritrea in December 2009, which included embargoes on the delivery of military equipment, as well as a travel ban and an asset freeze on Eritrean political and military leaders. Now, the UN monitoring group is urging the UN Security Council to impose yet another round of sanctions on the Eritrean government.

While US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the United States was prepared to add additional sanctions, she would not say if the latest findings would be enough to place Eritrea on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Instead, Rice voiced concern that the sanctions not be designed so they would “harm the people of Eritrea, who are suffering enough as it is.”

Eritrea’s suffering stems from its inclusion as one of the nations severely affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa, a drought which has forced an estimated 61,000 Eritreans to find refuge in Ethiopia. Added onto that burden is Eritrea’s status as an already desperately impoverished nation, one with a gross national income per capita of $360.

Yet, despite famine and grinding poverty, Eritrea has still been able to finance a far flung terrorist support network. According to the UN report, cash transfers to al-Shabab and other groups are facilitated by a “vast and complex system” in which senior officials of the Eritrean government and ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) collect and control hundreds of millions of dollars each year in unofficial revenues.

In addition to private business arrangements involving PFDJ-run companies or business partnerships abroad, most revenues come largely from a 2 percent tax levied on the estimated 1.2 million Eritrean nationals (or 25 percent of its entire population) living overseas.

Still, the Eritrean government has categorically denied the UN charges, sloughing it off as “irresponsible interference” ginned up by the United States and Ethiopia. However, Eritrea’s past behavior puts that denial into some question.

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  • john

    What a load of rubbish. You dont know anything about Eritrea. Eritrea has made excellent progress in healthcare , agriculture, fisheries, economy etc despite being held hostage and triying to be held back from positive progress by meles zenawi's leadership and possibly other groups who want african nations to be dependant on them. You cannot fool everyone and if people look closely that is the case. This country started off very successful and UN monitoring group and internatinal rule of law states that the land fought over with ethiopia in 1998 belongs to eritrea but ethiopia is not pressured, or told to leave but they wanna act like they are peacemakers and a great ally in the region without careful consideration. The have made more problems e.g, in somalia then eritrea has by invading it and creating a monster . They are known liars, cheats and professional actors who smile around but stab people in the back, they have been stealing aid money since 1985. ALl these years and they still dont buy tractors but buy tanks yet journalists like you play blind or dumb to that. In Eritrea Malaria has been reduced by over 85%, polio and other communicable diseases are non existant, child mortality rate has been reduced major etc. sea water farms, fog water projects, mining, hpspitals, healthcentres, drip irrigations, dams and many other things that have changed the life and wellbeing of many eritreans especially in the rural where no services existed. This article seems like a copy and paste from the meles zenawi puppets websites and very biased, one sided and concluded with no research what so ever. LONG LIVE THE PRICIPLED, DEDICATED, HARDWORKING and BEAUTIFUL ERITREA/ERITREANS!!!! role models to many african countries.

    • Flipside

      I really enjoyed this rebuttal.

    • eritrean

      hey this bloger is paid to post this lies in his blog I bet.

    • The Truth

      Great response…whoever wrote this article is nothing but a professional propagandist…as many western journalist are reduced-to today. Journalism is dead…and Frank and his likes are the ones who killed it.

      • Truthful Eritrean

        Why don't you let Dawit Issac be the judge of that? He's the Swedish-Eritrean journalist who's been languishing in your gulags for years, in case you've forgotten.
        See how the criminal regime treats the prisoners:

    • Tony

      Ethiopia should oust Meles from power, invade the Tigray part of Ethiopia (Eritrea) and create a greater Ethiopia! Eritrea cannot claim that it is a country just like the IRA cannot claim that it is not a terrorist group. So to HELL with Eritrea and its pathetic people who claim that they are Ethiopian whenever they get into trouble.

  • Truthful Eritrean


    Don't be surprised if you read many more critical comments for your objective expose of the totalitarian dictatorship of Eritrea. Like all totalitarian dictatorships before him, the Eritrean tyrant has thousands of gullible cult worshippers in the diaspora who will defend his brutal regime while enjoying the freedom of democracy in thier adopted, Western countries. And, like all cult worshippers, they have to be de-programmed from years of indoctrination by the criminal regime in Eritrea. The only way to do that is to keep publishing objective articles like this in the hope that it might help them see the real nature of the regime they believe in. continue…

    • Flipside

      I doubt you are Eritrean. The purpose of this article and your defense of it are that Israel was using Ethiopia as a buffer against Islamic Africa and retain access to the Red Sea. Israel tried to block Eritrea in the war for independence. Eritrean liberation movements then, if course aligned against Mossad. Now this Hasbara is trying to convince the American public that Eritrea is evil.

      • MixMChess

        What? Israel never tried to Block Eritrea's independence and they established relations immediately after Eritrea's independence in 1993. Relations between the two countries are close despite Israel's ties with Ethiopia. Seriously get a life and stop obsessing over Jews and Israel

        • Flipside

          Incorrect. In the 1960s, Israel provided military assistance to Ethiopia to prevent the independence of Eritrea during the reign of Selassie to gain recognition as a state, and again under Mengistu up through Operation Solomon, specifically airlifting out the Beta Israel because of the political upset on behalf of the Eritreans. Sorry, dude. Facts of history. Israel wanted access to Eritrean seaports and waterways and sought to get them through Ethiopia. Israel wanted to keep Arab nationalists out of the Red Sea countries.

      • Truthful Eritrean

        Why do you thinl I'm not Eritrean? Do I have to tow the party line to be Eritrean. Some of us still have a mind of our own and can objectively look at the present situation from different and informed perspective. Your injection of unrelated issues to the discussion proves you are ill-informed.

        • Flipside

          Because you are Defense Intelligence Agency BS.

          • Truthful Eritrean

            I'm flattered. I'd be honored to serve this sweet Land of Liberty in that capacity. Secondly, the two (being Eritrean national and DIA) are not necessarily mutually exclusive. lol

  • Truthful Eritrean

    …The truth of the matter is that this regime is the worst regime the Eritrean people have ever encountered. The brutality towards its own citizens makes the likes of Menghistu Hailemariam (former Ethiopian dictator) look like choir-boys. It is a regime that incarcerates, tortures, and kills thousands without due process of law. Not even a single independent newspaper is published in that contry. All journalsts have either been arrested, fled the country, or died in torture chambers. Even the the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church is in house-arrest since 2007. The list is endless.

    Let's hope this regime is brought down soon and the people are free from oppression.

  • John

    Is this guy even serious? Iranian troops inside Eritrea? How much are you getting paid to demonize Eritrea? This is insane the hog-wash you are spewing.

    “If there is one country where the fighting of extremists and terrorists was a priority when it mattered, it was Eritrea,” said Ted Dagne, an Africa specialist for the Congressional Research Service. – By Jeffery Gentlemen, Sep 18, 2007, New York Times

    • Mike

      Please dude, Ted Dagne is another worshipper of the criminal dictator of Eritrea. I wouldn't be surprised if he is consulting them and giving them informations they shouldn't have. Look at the video taken in Juba last month and see Ted standing next to the regimes political advisor and getting a hug from the dictator himself about 00:01:40:
      He should be investigated about his connection with these thugs.

  • Tekle

    If life inside Eritrea was so progressive, why are tens of thousands of its citizens risking their lives to leave every year?

    • john

      If nigeria has so much wealth and minerals and economy etc why do so many people leave?? Why do so many people leave Ethiopia to europe middleast etc?? Why so many ghanians leaving too? Many African countries hve that problem and i dont think any is immune. Its sometimes personal choice and sometimes tricks and human trafficking as well as making people believe that all is easy in Europe when Europeans are saying enough is enough and no more jobs, hard economic times etc even for their own people. Dont go on as if Its only Eritreans leaving. Some want to support their families from abroad and find its not like they hoped for. Stop distorting facts with your bs. At the end of the day Eritrea has laid the concrete foundations in health, agriculture, education, mining, energy (windmills, solars), fisheries, tourism, jettys, factories, etc and now want to develop full on more infrastructure. These are very important steps and can be developed more if peace in the region is brokered. Ethiopia need to leave our occupied territory. We hav done this through many of our self reliant policies and good partnership too that doesnt just eat our country away like witnessed in Ethiopia where they lease and sell land the size of uk to indians so they grow food in the fertile Ethiopian land and ship to their countries but Ethiopians get USAID. We dont want these kind of things. We dont want constant aid and not change anything for our people, we believe in working hard and moving on in a peaceful path.

  • berahn

    Tekle, don't be moron. Let the US or other western countries give a chnce for Ethiopians restlement programs, that was the experiance we witnessed in the 80's millions have left Ethiopia. Don't fool yourself.

    If you are a teenager now check back history.

  • Asdf

    Pure on pure propaganda. Please list your sources of the allegations you made or any evidence whatsoever to back up your accusations.

    Eritrea is a rogue state simply because the US likes to have the world in it's pocket and when a country isn't as willing it would do whatever it can to destabilize it.