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Cablegate: Eritrea: 2008 Country Reports On Terrorism

VZCZCXRO2446
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHAE #0602 3571441
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221441Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASMARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0075
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEPADJ/CJTF-HOA J2X CAMP LEMONIER DJ
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS ASMARA 000602

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR S/CT RHONDA SHOR, DS/IP/AF, DS/IP/ITA, AF/E

LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC ER
SUBJECT: ERITREA: 2008 COUNTRY REPORTS ON TERRORISM

REF: STATE 120019


GENERAL ASSESSMENT:
1. In 2008, Eritrea experienced no major act of international
terrorism. The Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African
Affairs announced in August 2007 that the USG was compiling
information in consideration of putting Eritrea on the List of State
Sponsors of Terrorism for its alleged support of militant extremists
in Somalia, including Al-Shabaab.

SAFE HAVEN ASSESSMENT
2. Post is unaware of any international terrorist group that uses
Eritrea as a sanctuary/safe haven. However, the GSE provides
sanctuary to members of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of
Somalia (ARS), including Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who was publicly
reported as being in Asmara as late as December 2008. The GSE has
provided regional groups such as the Sudanese Liberation Movement
(SLM), the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Oromo
Liberation
Front (OLF), the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), and ARS
with a wide range of logistical support such as Eritrean passports.

The GSE professes it would know if foreign terrorist groups such as
Al-Qaida were present in Eritrea. However, it has a long, porous
land border with Sudan and extensive border on the Red Sea. With
limited security resources to adequately patrol these borders, Post
assumes groups would be able to unofficially enter/transit through
Eritrea through one of these borders without the GSE's knowledge.
In addition, most of the known terrorist or insurgent incidents
within the country occur in remote areas.

For instance, in February of this year, Eritrean radio and the
government website reported a bus carrying 60 passengers had
detonated a land mine 28 miles west of Barentu in western Eritrea,
on a previously cleared road. Two Eritreans were killed and over a
dozen were wounded in the blast. In January, the government website
reported a time bomb exploding in the business area of Tessenei that
killed one person and injured eight others.

TERRORIST GROUPS/ORGANIZATIONS
3. Post is aware of the presence of Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who
has affiliation with the reportedly defunct Al Ittihad Al Islamia
(AIAI). Members of the ARS have been present in Eritrea with the
GSE's consent and full knowledge. While also not designated as
terrorist groups, members of the OLF, ONLF, and JEM also reside and
have offices in Asmara.

FOREIGN GOVERNMENT COOPERATION
4. The GSE has cooperated in providing overflight clearance to U.S.
military aircraft engaged in the Global War on Terrorism. The GSE
has linked broader cooperation on counterterrorism programs to the
unresolved border dispute with Ethiopia and to a resolution of the
ongoing conflict in Somalia.

5. Point of contact is POL Ajani Husbands. IVG: 596-2314.
Post: 291-1-12-00-04 x 2314.

MCMULLEN

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