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Cablegate: Eritrea: 2009 Country Report On Terrorism

VZCZCXRO1907
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHAE #0436 3551153
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211153Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASMARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0646
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 000436

DEPARTMENT FOR S/CT RHONDA SHOR, DS/IP/AF, DS/IP/ITA, AF/E, AND
AF/RSA
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC ER
SUBJECT: ERITREA: 2009 COUNTRY REPORT ON TERRORISM

REF: STATE 109980


GENERAL ASSESSMENT:
1. In 2009, Eritrea experienced no major act of international
terrorism; however, the Eritrean government is widely regarded as
being supportive of extremist activities in Somalia, particularly by
providing financial and logistical support for Al-Shabaab and Hizbul
Islam. 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. In July 2009, members of the UN Security
Council began discussions on sanctioning Eritrea for similar
allegations.

SAFE HAVEN ASSESSMENT
2. Post is unaware of any international terrorist group that uses
Eritrea as a sanctuary/safe haven. However, the GSE has provided
sanctuary to members of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of
Somalia (ARS), including Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who resided in
Asmara until May 2009. 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 and political 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 an 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, such as from the Afar or Kunama ethnic groups,
occur in remote areas.

For instance, several websites reported on an alleged assassination
attempt on President Isaias Afwerki in August of this year near Mai
Atal in eastern Eritrea near Massawa. In February of the previous
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.

TERRORIST GROUPS/ORGANIZATIONS
3. Until May 2009, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys resided in Asmara,
receiving financial, political, and logistical support from the GSE.
Members of the ARS continue to live in Asmara with the GSE's
support and full knowledge. It is believed the GSE still maintains
contact with and support for Sheikh Aweys as well as his extremist
organization, Hizbul Islam. 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 regional security missions. 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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