Search

 

Cablegate: Addis Ababa Eac Reviews Threat Against Local Hotels,

VZCZCXRO5381
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #1598/01 1441214
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241214Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6298
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 001598

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR: D, P, M, DS, S/CT: B.PHIPPS, CA, INR, AF/EX AND DS/IP/AF
CJTF-HOA FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC PTER ET
SUBJECT: ADDIS ABABA EAC REVIEWS THREAT AGAINST LOCAL HOTELS,
SECURITY IN THE OGADEN/SOMALI REGION, AND GENERAL SECURITY RELATED
TO UPCOMING EVENTS

REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 1547

B. ADDIS ABABA 1308

1. (U) ACTION REQUEST: See paragraphs 5 and 11 for action
requested.

2. (SBU) On May 23, Addis Ababa's Emergency Action Committee (EAC)
met to review the general security situation in light of the
following:

-- Recent threat information disseminated by Washington to the U.S.
business community, but of unknown credibility, directed against the
Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa, and at USG and World Bank employees
staying there;

-- The security situation in the Ethiopia's Somali (Ogaden) Region,
following the recent high-profile detention by the Government of
Ethiopia (GOE) of three Amcit journalists (released May 22) and
another Amcit (who remains in detention) for alleged contact with
the Ogaden National Liberation Front(ONLF);

-- Post's general security posture in light of ongoing developments
in the region, including continuing Ethiopian military intervention
in neighboring Somalia, the upcoming U.S. Independence Day
celebrations, and the Ethiopian Millennium celebrations (September
11, 2007).

The following offices were present at the EAC: Ambassador, DCM,
DATT, USAID, CONS, RMO, ORA, CDC, MO, MSG, GSO, POL/ECON, SAO, REO,
REFCOORD, PAO, RMO, USAU and RSO.

--------------------------------------------- -----
REPORTED THREAT AGAINST ADDIS ABABA SHERATON HOTEL
--------------------------------------------- -----

3. (SBU) The RSO briefed the EAC regarding recent threat information
against the Sheraton Hotel, advising of reported hostile
surveillance of the hotel conducted by the ONLF insurgent group.
According to this unvetted report, the ONLF was interested in USG
and World Bank personnel residing at the hotel, and their
involvement in oil exploration in the Ogaden (Somali Region) of
Ethiopia. On May 22, RSO met with the General Manager, Business
Manager, and Security Manager of the Sheraton Hotel and passed them
the threat information. The General Manager had only moments before
received the same information via e-mail from Sheraton corporate
headquarters, which had in turn been provided the information by the
Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). The same
threat information was also passed by the RSO to the Director
General of the Ethiopian Police, who in turn passed it to the
Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). During
the course of the meeting, senior NISS personnel contacted the
Sheraton General Manager and directed him to elevate the security
posture at the hotel to the highest level. The GOE will advise
other major hotels in Addis Ababa to do the same within the extent
of their capabilities (not all hotels in Addis Ababa have a strong
security posture).

4. (SBU) Effective immediately, the Sheraton Hotel has implemented
the following security measures:

-- Increased access control to the hotel compound;

-- Increased vehicle security screening. All vehicles seeking
access to the compound will be searched;

-- Posted guards at all exterior doors to the hotel compound and
building to prevent unauthorized access;

-- Increased vigilance, and presence of hotel and host country
security personnel.

The above security measures represent what is reasonably possible in
terms of the hotel's physical security posture and capabilities.
Post will monitor the situation and report developments accordingly.
Currently, the Sheraton accommodates approximately 14 USG personnel
under Chief of Mission authority. This is not an unreasonable
number given the fact the hotel has over 500 rooms. World Bank
presence at the hotel is currently small (a couple of individuals).
Neither the World Bank nor the Embassy has any significant events
planned at the Sheraton in the immediate future.

5. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: The Sheraton Hotel's parent corporation in
New York received the reported unprocessed "raw" threat information
before it could be fully evaluated. In the future, the EAC requests
time to assess and evaluate reported threat information before it is
released by the Department to the host country government and other

ADDIS ABAB 00001598 002 OF 003


entities. These types of situations create a double standard issue
and places this Mission in a difficult situation in regards to our
duty to notify the American public as well as other entities, and
could also result in the release of unsubstantiated information
causing unnecessary confusion, panic or alarm.

---------------------------------------
SECURITY SITUATION IN THE OGADEN REGION
---------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Since last month's attack by the ONLF against a Chinese oil
drilling facility in Abole, Ethiopia (ref B), the Government of
Ethiopia (GOE) has initiated an aggressive campaign to identify and
locate the ONLF. The increased GOE presence and initiative in this
already less then permissive region has subsequently intensified,
resulting in the detention of one American citizen for alleged
affiliation with the ONLF (currently in GOE custody), as well as
three American citizen journalists (released May 22) accused of
having contact with the ONLF and being in the region without
necessary host country approval (ref A). The GOE has made it clear
they will not tolerate interference with their efforts, or support
and contact with the ONLF by outsiders. The EAC agreed this
situation merited a warden message and amendment to the consular
information sheet advising Americans regarding the situation, most
particularly that foreign journalists are required by Ethiopian law
to register their presence and purpose in country with the GOE
Ministry of Information. Post will draft proposed text and submit
it to the Department for approval.

----------------------------------
U.S. INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS
----------------------------------

7. (SBU) Post intends to go ahead with plans for U.S. Independence
Day celebrations. Approximately 500 guests are planned to attend.
Post will continue to monitor and report on the security situation
as it relates to this event. Working with the host country,
Embassy, and hotel security services, the RSO is confident under the
current conditions that this event can be conducted in a safe and
secure manner.

---------------------------------
ETHIOPIAN MILLENNIUM CELEBRATIONS
---------------------------------

8. (SBU) The Ethiopian Millennium will be celebrated on September
11, 2007. Not only is this date historically significant in regards
to terrorism, it will also host the largest number of visitors and
public gatherings in Ethiopia's recent history. The celebrations
are expected to extend over a 3-week period centered around
September 11. Most local hotels will be fully occupied throughout
this period. Many Ethiopians are renting their homes to visitors,
resulting in a minor housing shortage. Night clubs, restaurants,
cafes and other entertainment venues will most likely experience an
unprecedented surge in patronage. Many airlines servicing Ethiopia
are already reporting they will be operating at maximum capacity
before and during this period.

9. (SBU) While the total number of expected visitors coming to Addis
Ababa can not be accurately estimated, there will be three planned
public gatherings (held on a large parcel of undeveloped land
located in close proximity to Addis Ababa's Bole International
Airport) indicating the scale of the Millennium celebrations.
Anticipated attendance for these events will be 15,000 to 20,000
individuals. These events in Addis Ababa will be broadcast via
satellite to large billboard size televisions at similar venues
throughout Ethiopia. At least three internationally well known
celebrities (NFI) may participate. Preparations to the site
(grading of earth) in Addis Ababa is underway. Planned security
measures include a perimeter fence for pedestrian access control,
heavy concrete barriers to prevent vehicular access, and a special
VIP section. Security screening measures of attendees are also
being discussed by GOE officials. By all accounts, this will be a
large event and poses a significant challenge in regards to crowd
control and ensuring general security.

10. (SBU) The EAC assesses the security concerns surrounding the
Millennium celebrations as follows:

-- Due to limited availability of hotel rooms, official USG visitors
during this period will be discouraged and possibly denied country
clearance. Post will send an ALDAC cable to this effect in the very
near future;

-- Extensive security measures are anticipated throughout Addis
Ababa, resulting in restricted road travel at various times and

ADDIS ABAB 00001598 003 OF 003


locations. The Embassy will be prepared to make operational
adjustments accordingly;

-- The attendance of a large number of dignitaries is anticipated,
resulting in additional security measures;

-- As during any holiday period or significant event in Addis Ababa,
cellular phone services will most likely be interrupted at times due
to overloaded circuits, or disabled by the host country security
services for security reasons. Mission personnel will be reminded
to carry and monitor their two-way radios throughout this period;

-- Some public roads will most likely be inaccessible or restricted
access during this period. Mission personnel will be advised to
plan accordingly;

-- Given the ongoing situation in the region, Ethiopia's military
involvement in neighboring Somalia, threats posed by internal
political concerns/terrorist groups, and the historic significance
of September 11 in regards to terrorism, one can not discount the
possibility of the threat of a terrorist attack or other major
security incident. Post will continue to monitor the situation and
report developments accordingly.

11. (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: Approximately 400 members of household
(MOH) and eligible family members (EFM) under Chief of Mission (COM)
authority in Addis Ababa lack access to the Embassy radio network,
due to a shortage of hand-held radio units and the Department's
policy not to make funds available for this purpose. Addis Ababa is
confronted with frequent interruptions of commercial communications
services, as well as an environment of constant threats. Reliable,
fast and wide-covering communications is essential in dissemination
of security information to the Mission community in a timely manner.
The EAC strongly recommended as a critical element for security all
EFMS and MOHs under COM authority be issued two-way radios
compatible with the Mission's present radio network. This would
require the purchase of 200 additional radios. Post requests the
Department's guidance and assistance in regards to this matter.


----------
CONCLUSION
----------

12. (SBU) In response to the above, the EAC deemed it was prudent to
proceed as follows:

-- Continue to observe common-sense personal security practices;

-- Monitor the situation and report developments accordingly;

-- Hold regular EAC meetings to reassess the above matters;

-- Issue a warden notice on reported hostile surveillance targeting
local hotels;

-- Issue a warden notice on security concerns related to traveling
in the Ogaden without permission of the host country government;

-- Amend the consular information sheet for Ethiopia to advise
journalists that they must register their presence and purpose with
the GOE MOI.

13. (SBU) In response to the above situation, the RSO has already
taken the following measures;

-- Met with the Commissioner of the Ethiopian Federal Police and
expressed our concerns. The Commissioner pledged his continued
support and cooperation;

-- Met with the Deputy Commissioner of the Addis Ababa City Police.
The Deputy Commissioner pledged his continued support and
cooperation;

-- Met with Embassy Local Guard Force and Surveillance Detection
personnel, placing them on an elevated state of alert;

-- Stepped up security procedures at all Mission locations;

-- Carefully assess travel requests by personnel under COM authority
to the Ogaden/Somali border region;

-- Remind Mission personnel of the threat environment and good
operational security practices.

YAMAMOTO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Ramzy Baroud: Year in Review Will 2018 Usher in a New Palestinian Strategy

2017 will be remembered as the year that the so-called ‘peace process’, at least in its American formulation, has ended. And with its demise, a political framework that has served as the foundation for US foreign policy in the Middle East has also collapsed. More>>

ALSO:


North Korea: NZ Denounces Missile Test

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has denounced North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test. The test, which took place this morning, is North Korea’s third test flight of an inter-continental ballistic missile. More>>

ALSO:

Campbell On: the US demonising of Iran

Satan may not exist, but the Evil One has always been a handy tool for priests and politicians alike.

Currently, Iran is the latest bogey conjured up by Washington to (a) justify its foreign policy interventions and (b) distract attention from its foreign policy failures.

Once upon a time, the Soviet Union was the nightmare threat for the entire Cold War era – and since then the US has cast the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamic State in the same demonic role. Iran is now the latest example…More


Catalan Independence:
Pro-independence parties appear to have a narrow majority. More>>