Ethiopia: 2011 U.S. Terrorism Report on Ethiopia
U. S. Department of State
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Country Reports on Terrorism 2011
July 31, 2012, Washington, DC — Overview: The Government of Ethiopia 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 extremists into Ethiopia. It also remained concerned about domestic groups such as the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Despite the Ethiopian government’s peace agreement with the United Western Somali Liberation Front (UWSLF) and a faction of the ONLF in 2010, elements from both groups, as well as the OLF, continued their attempts to target Ethiopian government officials and infrastructure. This included a foiled attempt by OLF elements to attack Addis Ababa during the African Union (AU) Summit in January 2011. The Ethiopian government cooperated with the U.S. government on military, intelligence, and security issues.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), with broad authority for intelligence, border security, and criminal investigation, is responsible for overall counterterrorism management. The Ethiopian Federal Police (EFP) worked in conjunction with NISS on counterterrorism.
The Ethiopian government used its sweeping antiterrorism legislation to arrest dozens of people, many of them journalists and opposition figures charged under provisions of the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). The Ethiopian government charged those arrested with either material or “moral” support for terrorist activity, or both. On December 21 the Federal High Court found two Swedish journalists guilty of “rendering support” to the ONLF, and handed down sentences to each of 11 years in prison.
The Ethiopian Parliament issued a proclamation in May that declared five groups to be outlawed terrorist organizations. The groups include OLF and ONLF, violent domestic ethnic-based groups; Ginbot 7, a diaspora-based group that has called for the violent overthrow of the ruling party of Ethiopia; the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front; al-Qa’ida; and al-Shabaab.
The Ethiopian government introduced 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. Ethiopia continued its participation in the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Ethiopia is not a member of a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body, but has obtained observer status in the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group in preparation for membership. Ethiopia was publicly identified as being under review by the FATF International Cooperation Review Group in February 2010. In June 2011, Ethiopia was downgraded to the FATF Public Statement for its failure to make sufficient progress on its Action Plan. However, in 2011 Ethiopia made progress in developing its Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), but it was not operational at the end of the year.
In Ethiopia, terrorist financing is criminalized, but prosecutions are rare. Although the Ethiopian government froze and confiscated assets, delays sometimes existed because of technical issues, chiefly the lack of an operational FIU, meaning that the confiscation has to be done by the National Bank of Ethiopia. The Government of Ethiopia’s Charities and Societies Agency had general responsibility for monitoring NGOs, but had no real expertise in the area of terrorist financing.
For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2011 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: Ethiopia is a member state of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and participated actively in its Capacity Building Program Against Terrorism, which aims to bolster the capacity of IGAD 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: Largely in response to attacks by fundamentalist Muslims on Protestant churches near the city of Jimma in March, as well as a sense that fundamentalist sentiment was growing among some parts of the Muslim population, in July the Ministry of Federal Affairs began a controversial nationwide training program for religious leaders to counter violent extremism. To encourage tolerance, the Ethiopian government additionally hung posters near the site of the March attacks showing an embrace between a Muslim, an Orthodox Christian, and an Evangelical Protestant.