Al-Qaeda’s ‘Christian’ Dictator Ally

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As unlikely as it may seem, a U.N. report says that Al-Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, al-Shabaab, is being financed by the “Christian” dictator of Eritrea, Isaisas Afewerki. The report also implicates the regime in a massive bomb plot against the African Union in Ethiopia in January. Al-Shabaab has proven frighteningly effective in recruiting Americans, and any regime helping it must be immediately placed on the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

The danger of Eritrea’s support for terrorism was laid bare in the U.N.’s report exposing that the regime attempted “mass casualty attacks against civilian targets” in January. The mayhem was to begin with the detonation of a car bomb at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At the same time, the largest market in Africa would be bombed, and the area between the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office and the Sheraton Hotel where the African Union leaders stay would come under attack. One of the participants said he was told by his Eritrean superiors to make “Addis Ababa like Baghdad.”

All but one of the aspiring attackers was trained and supervised by Eritrean officials. One of them was in communication with the Oromo Liberation Front, an Eritrean-backed group fighting the Ethiopian government. They were discovered with C4 explosives, detonators, a sniper rifle and other equipment for carrying out the attacks. The need to confront Afewerki’s desire to commit acts of spectacular terrorism is especially pressing in light of his regime’s support for terrorist groups including al-Shabaab and friendship with the Iranian regime.

The Afewerki regime gives al-Shabaab about $75,000 every single month through its embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. In August 2009, Secretary of State Clinton publicly condemned Eritrea for arming the Al-Qaeda affiliate. In December 2009, the U.N. punished Eritrea with sanctions that included freezing the assets of some complicit officials and a travel ban. Al-Shabaab hasn’t participated in a plot to attack the U.S. homeland yet, but it is an integral part of Al-Qaeda’s infrastructure and is a major contributor to homegrown radicalization.

At least 14 Americans have been indicted for their role in al-Shabaab’s American network. In February 2010, an associate of al-Shabaab was arrested in Virginia after illegally smuggling 270 Somalis into the country through Mexico. House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Peter King’s third hearing on homegrown extremism covered this problem, and revealed that 40 Americans and 20 Canadians are known to have joined al-Shabaab’s ranks in Somalia. Of these, 15 Americans and three Canadians were killed, including the first American suicide bomber. Twenty-one Americans remain unaccounted for. Eritrea’s involvement with this group and the aggressive inclinations of the regime are a recipe for disaster.

Al-Shabaab isn’t the only Islamic terrorist group that the Eritrean regime is abetting. Hizbul Islam, another group in Somalia that merged with al-Shabaab in December 2010, received extensive aid from Eritrea. The government of Djibouti accused Afewerki of training and arming it, and the President of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government said the regime gave Hizbul Islam operational guidance. In May 2009, its leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Awyers, admitted, “Eritrea supports us and Ethiopia is our enemy.”

The regime actively supports a range of other militant groups in Africa. The U.N. says that the same officers involved with the African Union bomb plot give financial and logistical assistance to groups in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan and possibly Uganda. In September 2010, the Ethiopian authorities captured members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front with weapons from Eritrea. The militants said that they were trained there, and then dispatched to Ethiopia through Somaliland. Some of the money for these operations is raised from Eritrean-Americans, specifically in Oakland, C.A. The regime pressures its nationals living outside the country to pay it a two percent income tax, bringing in tens of millions of dollars, which then goes to such nefarious purposes.

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  • muler

    Go a little deeper than a bunch of politicians tells you about Eritrea. Do a little research before you show your parotting skills

  • leyla

    Have you asked the question why a christian leader would support a muslim fanataic group?

  • c'mon

    here we go again, why would Ethiopian people need a terrorist coming from the ouside when they have a terrorist government. proof more than 250 killed in capital city of Ethiopia in 2005 by the ethiopian government, the ongoing atrocity on the gambela and ogaden region of Ethiopia. so make your research before you go on your silly quest judas.

  • Chezwick_mac

    I didn't know Afwerki was Christian. Strange, considering that Eritrea is a Muslim-majority country notorious for its persecution of Christians.

  • PatrioticP_Eritrean

    hahahahah, full of lies, a parotting skills muller is right, there is no one word true in this article, we eritreans support our government forever because there is no leader serving his people like Our President. Ryan try to write something else, don't waste your time by writing lies. Eritrea Prevail, Victory to the Mass!!!

  • Observer

    Isayas was a christian,when he was an Ethiopian,after the so called Independence He got babitized by Gadaffie,Mubarek and Ahmadinejad.

  • welldone

    Esayas has no religion. And he can do whatever it takes , at all cost to stay in power . If he is trying to join IGAD , this is an alternative solution to the existing problem.

    Don't be a fool.

  • arbe1

    If there is Christian Dictator Melez Zenawi is number one. Don't insult the president of Eritrea is great leader.

  • Guwel

    Full of lies,why don’t you write about the ethiopian occupation of the Eritrean land and the maccare in rhw ogaden?

  • etOz

    The wetern countries should blame "Meles" he is the one whom saved Afewerki arse,while Ethiopian's solders marching to Asmera in the 1998 war to capture this confused terrorists.

    • The Truth

      Silence! oh Ethiopian…..You are just a famine stricken perennial BEGGAR!

      • etOz

        Wow that is why,we are able to feed your people in our refugee camps???
        Arab-arse leaker Shabeya! we are sick and tired of changing your diaper every 10 years,this time it's for good.

  • Joe

    If there was any truth in this article, it´s that it´s all lies! Journalism 101: be objective and hear BOTH sides of the argument. Where is Eritreas side? What do the eritrean govt. and people say? Shame on you!

  • StephenD

    "…al-Shabaab, is being financed by the “Christian” dictator of Eritrea, Isaisas Afewerki."

    "Christian" Dictator.

    There is no such thing. He can call himself whatever he wants to, that doesn't make it true. I hear of a trade route bandit that called himself a prophet, that doesn't make it true does it?

  • Samuel

    Dear author, Have you done your research or you are just writing what is given to you to write!? Do you think that Eritrea is capable of entertaining and supporting God knows how many opposition groups. Please, be sensible and logical. All these nonsense accusations are due the refusal to become the docile pet like Meles, Kibak, Musseveni, etc… Noway, because what is the point of fighting for 30 years then if you drive out a black colonizer in order to accept a white one? We fought to be free and masters of our selves not to be kneel down and beg in front of some greedy and bloodthirsty US and Uk. We never forget what had been done to the people of Eritrea in the fifties and sixties. The UK has dismantled and destroyed the industrial sector of Eritrea, which was then one of the best in Africa. And the US has suppressed the will and desire of the people of Eritrea to be come a free nation, because of whom we are to fight 30 long and bitter years to gain what we have lost. Because of the greedy policies of the US, we are forced o shed our blood. This will never be forgotten by the people of Eritrea and will pass on to from generation to generation.

    If you don’t know the history of Eritrea, then I advise you to read and learn more than writing about what you don’t know. Once one of our patriotic fathers said that “The people of Eritrea won’t accept any colonizer whether it is black or white, unless Es its full independence, there will never be peace in the eastern of Africa”, I hope you see what I mean.

    • fidel

      SAMUEL, you must have a selective memory or historic knowledge of your country. wasn't it the Eritrea's who served their fascist Italian colonisers as a good 'Askarie foot-soldier' to fight for fascism. Wasn't it the Eritrean who converted to Catholicism in drove to please their fascist master to desperately get close to him, abandoning their fathers orthodox Christian faith. you people are delusional with a massive inferiority complex.

      • sola

        you are right!!

  • karen

    He is obviously a stupid dictator. because of the failing of the regimes of Mubarak and Gaddafi, he is now an isolated person. He is now tail wagging to join EGAD and AU.

    Why should Eritrea suffer for his delusional thought?

  • alex

    Wow, is he really journalist? This is really garbage. It is full of gossip, not true at all.

  • BiniAM

    Hey Mauro,

    If the UN was full of dimwits that believe every half-baked report that came their way, as you seem to be doing in your article, they would have put Eritrea in the terrorist sponsoring regimes list years ago.
    The Eritrean government may have its shortcomings but all the cut paste lies repeated in your article are defamations served up by those who are intent on bringing down a fiercely independent country that has refused to bow down to the will of Western powers, pure and simple.

  • Saimon


    Don't let your hatred and fear of Iran blind you so much so that you want Eritrea be targeted for sanctions. You need to scratch beyond the surface to get to the truth befor eyou defame a country and hard working people. Treat us with some respect and be objective than repeating the lies and fabrications that is being spread repeatdly. Treat your profession with respect and be as objective as possible.

    Eritrea is targeted not because it supports Al-Shabab or other terrorists, but purely because it wants to be the master of its own destiny. Nothing more, nothing less. You may be able to fool some with little knowledge, but the truth will prevail.

  • Abiel

    Garbage on the making. Western media are upset with Eritrea's success and self reliance. Racist media are trying to insult the hero of Africa. However, as long as 98% of the good people of Eritrea are on Isaias side, there is no lie and no power that can shake the Eritrean people. Lie as you want and show us how cheap and racist you are, but Eritrean President is unique leader and he will defeat your lies with truth by deeds and not by coffee shop talks!

  • Ron

    According to the U.S. Defense Department website, Eritrea “could teach U.S. how to combat terror”. Here is the link from DefenseLink:…

    In light of such damning fact, doesn’t it make your claim akin a kalahari bushman trying to convince us that Pope John Paul II is an atheist?

  • mosses

    What a mule!!!!!! And you call yourself a journalist ? Why didn't you go there and see for yourself how the Eritrean people and their government are working hard to make their live become better than being a slave for the neo-con bastards like you.

  • Hit-man?

    Ryan, your sophomoric lies aside, I couldn’t help but notice you are a “founder of”?! Wow! What a shame. You are either hopelessly clueless or dangerously EVIL hired mercenary who helps make this world a little less safe than it would otherwise be.

  • dani

    I think this man is his first time , do you even know where Eritrea is because you look surprised by isiases religion lol

  • FukthisBigot

    Eritrea is half CHRISTIAN and half MUSLIM country that has no religious problems within its borders. They live peacefully. Eritrea has no room for terrorists or terrorism, in fact it could teach the world how to take care of extremists of any type. To the Writer of this Article your a Buffoon and pathetic. The only thing that should be considered a sponsor of Terrorism is your horrendous writing you call journalism.

  • Eritrea


    Pretty much everything you wrote is patently false. But you knew that, didn’t you? Your real intention seems to be to smear and not to inform. Because your fairytale lacks any shred of evidence, is highly biased and reeks of absolute dishonesty. The fact is, demonizing this peaceful & wonderful country called Eritrea is not the solution. The US, allied with UK and UN, worked tirelessly yet failed to crash the just Eritrean rebellion. History is repeating itself.

    Unlike U.S. “allies” in the region such as Ethiopia, Eritrea is the only country that saved its population for decades from famine, dependency, ethnic and religious mayhem. Ethiopia’s Meles, on the other hand, is busy buying weapons, massacring his own

    population, savagely plowing thru Somalia, occupying Eritrean soil, all under willful encouragement of USA. And the U.S. Department of State, instead of sending LOVE like large agricultural and technological infrastructure in to East Africa, has been sowing hatred, pitting nations against each other and by making the Horn of Africa awash with deadly weaponry (for which Al-Shabab is the indirect recipient).

    Yet the Obama Administration is busy trying to SILENCE and PUNISH at all costs, the only country in the region that is calling a spade a spade and urging for sanity. It may seem to be working in the short term, but it is colossal policy disaster just like very sad chapter of U.S. policy on Eritrea’s independence struggle.

  • hakegna

    Eritereans are hate filled delusionals. Why are so many people returning back to Ethiopia. Ask any truthful Eritrean when they are not afraid to be heard by others – they will tell you Aferorki is nuts. Independence, blah, blah, blah …. Meles is mostly Eritrean and Issayas is mostly Ethiopian. What joins them is theat they are both blood thirsty dicators.

  • Hamid

    Let us not assume Ryan is a real journalist. He could be CIA.

  • Eritrean

    As usual the ready cyber heros of Isayas Afewerki are out trying to mislead people reading this fair analysis of their government. Americans are not that dumb and actions on the ground speak volumes than these confused comments. They are so incapable of understanding reality. Isayas's first objective was to create a delussional society that can be led any where at a blow of a wistle. For sure he is going to take all these nunts with him when the end is here…which is getting closer and closer.

  • oooooo

    The cohorts of the brutal Dictactor get mad when he is exposed these cowards worship him just like God this animal will camp with Satan you can hide for ever the regime is cracking from inside the diaspota hooligans your days are numbered

  • david

    Eritrea was a victim of terroris her self. how on earth can you accuse a gov for supporting Alquada. Ask how many fanatics / muslim fundamentals are in jail in eritrea.

  • RealityControl

    You are just one of the many errand boys of the neo-cons employed to defame a principled Nation.

  • Truthful Eritrean

    Mr. Mauro,

    You're absolutely right. Eritrea under this PFDJ gangster regime has earned the honor of being placed on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. There is no relationship between the Eritreans who fought for 30 years for independence and these thugs running the country. As you can see from the comments above, the PFDJ criminal gang has indoctrinated members who enjoy the freedoms of the West while defending tyrants and terrorists in Eritrea. Those who sacrificed everything for independence have been overthrown by these criminal thugs who are sponsoring terrorists. It's time to take measures you and others recommended and put these criminals out of business.

    Thank you.

  • tesphom

    In the 3rd world nations, if you want to get aide & other supports from the super power, you label your opponent a terrorist & any one associated a sponsor of terrorism.

    Most people would agree Issais has become a dictator ( after border war with ethiopia) & is probably the only non corrupted african leader.

  • Mel

    Isaias Afwerki is no Christian. He is a Communist and has been one ever since he denounced his Lutheran upbringing to lead the Marxist Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) back in the early 1970's. He is a dictator and tolerates no dissent. He allows only the religions of Islam, Catholicism, Coptic Orthodox, and Lutheran (Mekane Yesus). All the rest are banned. Anyone caught worshipping under any other denomination or religion can be arrested and suffer greatly. He has a pathological hatred for those he terms "pentes" (Pentecostals and other protestants) and Jehovah's Witnesses. Eritreans fought hard for their independence. But they have gone from one dictatorship (Mengistu) to another (Afwerki). What good is independence if one is still not free from tyranny and is ruled by a tsalool "leader" who beds with the likes of Sheikh Rage?.

    • Priest

      He went to the Lutheran school, but his upbringing/family is Orthodox.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Eritreans, do something about yourselves, clean house, join the World and
    do in the dictators, make life better for yourselves and your posterity and
    have nothing to do with evil men……………………………….William

    • The Truth

      There is no Evil and Good..this is not a sit-com or some sick sensational American movie. The Dictator is not the issue here…and even if it was it is a problem for Eritreans and not of the Williams and James' it? Eritrea is under sanctions for aiding terrorist organizations[ a fact that is totally fabricated and unfounded], and not for having a dictator as it's head…as do China,Saudi Arabia and all remaining African and middle Eastern countries. i would even say that the US itself is under a dictatorial regime: That of the Fat-Cats.

      • WilliamJamesWard

        Considering the way you think and if you are Eritrean and represent the way
        all Eritreans think, then there is no hope for any of you……………William

    • etOz

      William the problem with most Maoest Eritrians are they think they are special.they think they know every thing.since the so so called Independence they had war with Sudan,Djibuti,Ethiopia and Yemen. but 20% of their populations still lives in those countries. I blame the Ethiopian leader for all this mess.

  • etOz

    Despite their untold atrocities,discremination , 2.5 m lives loss and their oil,RSS decided to share and move on with their lives. on the contrary after 20 years so called independence,Eritrea still blaming Ethiopia almost for every thing .can you see the irony???? grow up Eritria ! we are sick and tired of changing your diapers.
    If it wasn't for half Eritrian Meles we would not been in positions.

    Can you imagine little East timor treaten Indonesia???

  • Flipside

    POOR ISRAEL! They lost control of the West Coast of the Red Sea. Where was Irv Rubin?

  • ember 'Hakegna Agame

    you remind me of our lementi in Eritrea– no matter where i in asmara, I'd always fnd them at a door step and these pesky agames were hard to avoid. And I see that legendary triadtion has transfered to cyberspace. So yirda'eKa do kinbleka?

    The TPLF, formerly M.L.L.T (Marxist Leninist League of Litray or Mahber Listron Lemonon Tigray) have proven time and again that they would murder their own mothers to save themselves or get a small favor. No surprise.

  • Yellow Journalism?

    Eritrea is fighting the Islamic Jihad Movement and Harakat Movement "rebels" stationed in Ethiopia. These rebels were inspired by Osama bin Laden when he was in Sudan in the late 90's. Get your facts straight.

    Eritrera is a secular country. Watch you write, stop rehashing the mostly trash you collect from the internet

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