Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2016, 16:12 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Ethiopia

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 May 2013
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 - Ethiopia, 30 May 2013, available at: [accessed 20 October 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Overview: The Government of Ethiopia's counterterrorism cooperation with the United States included military, intelligence, and security aspects. The Ethiopian government viewed instability in Somalia as a critical national security threat and maintained a defensive military presence along the Somali border to stem potential infiltration of violent extremists into Ethiopia.

Ethiopian military forces continued counterterrorism operations in Somalia and were instrumental in combating al-Shabaab in southern and central Somalia. Within Ethiopia's borders, the Ethiopian government successfully identified an al-Qa'ida (AQ) cell, and then arrested and convicted cell affiliates. The government remained concerned about groups such as the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), Oromo Liberation Front, and Ginbot 7, which its parliament designated as terrorist groups in 2011.

2012 Terrorist Incidents: In January, five European tourists were killed and two were kidnapped by the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unit Front (ARDUF), a violent extremist group the Ethiopian government claimed was backed by Eritrea. In retaliation, the Ethiopian military made incursions into Eritrea in March to target "subversive groups," including ARDUF, and a military base. In April, an attack by armed gunmen on a farm operated by Saudi Star Development in the Gambella region killed at least five people. The Government of Ethiopia regarded the January attack on tourists and the April attack on the Saudi Star compound as terrorist attacks.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Ethiopia's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has broad authority for intelligence, border security, and criminal investigation and is responsible for overall counterterrorism management. The Ethiopian Federal Police worked in conjunction with the NISS on counterterrorism. Ethiopia continued to use the Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System, PISCES, biometric security measures at immigration enforcement stations at Bole and Dire Dawa International Airports, as well as other points of entry throughout the country.

In February, the Government of Ethiopia announced that it had arrested eight AQ operatives in the Bale area of the Oromia Region in December 2011. Those arrested had links to Kenya, Sudan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. A verdict in the trial of self-confessed cell leader Hassan Jarso – a Kenyan national – and other cell members, had not been reached by year's end.

The Government of Ethiopia convicted 46 people, 24 of whom were tried in absentia, under its 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, including an 11-person AQ cell and three members of the ONLF.

Also among those convicted were 12 journalists, opposition political figures, and activists whose trials were deemed by several international human rights organizations and foreign diplomatic missions to be politically motivated and based on evidence indicative of acts of a political nature rather than linked to terrorism. The government also invoked the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in charging 28 Muslims in connection with protests that alleged government interference in religious affairs, and accused one Muslim of accepting funds illegally from a foreign embassy.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Ethiopia is not a member of a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body (FSRB), but is an observer to the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, an FSRB, which it hopes to become a member of in 2013. The Ethiopian government froze assets allegedly used in planning terrorist acts, pending investigation as to whether those assets can be legally confiscated. The Government of Ethiopia's Charities and Societies Agency is responsible for monitoring non-profit organizations to prevent misuse of funds and terrorist financing. NGOs were monitored, but the Ethiopian government has limited expertise in the area of terrorist financing. The Government of Ethiopia routinely distributed the UN list of designated terrorists and terrorist entities to financial institutions. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Ethiopia is a member state of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and participated actively in its Security Sector Program, which builds the capacity of its member states to mitigate, detect, and deter advances by terrorists. Ethiopia was an active participant in the AU's counterterrorism efforts and participated in its Center for Study and Research on Terrorism and in meetings of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council continued to implement a controversial training program for Muslims on the subject of violent extremism; the program led to ongoing protests by some members of the Muslim community who alleged government interference in religious affairs.

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