News / Africa

Ethiopia Breaks Up Islamist Militant Cell

Reuters
Ethiopian police have arrested 15 suspected militants allegedly trained by Islamist rebels in neighbouring Somalia and who were plotting attacks in Ethiopia, the country's intelligence agency said on Wednesday.

The arrests were the latest in a crackdown on what senior officials say is a growing threat from militant Islam in Ethiopia, a Horn of Africa nation predominantly comprised of Orthodox Christians and a large minority of Muslims.

The would-be militants were caught following a 20-day sting operation while they plotted to set up cells in the eastern town of Harar and in Kemise in the northeast, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) said.

"Members of the group were recruited, trained and armed by Somalia's al Shabaab and their aim was to wage Jihad [holy war] and stage attacks inside the country,'' an NISS statement said, aired by the state-run Ethiopian Television.

Addis Ababa has sent troops to Somalia to help other African countries battling to crush al Shabaab's six-year insurgency.

The suspects, whose nationalities were not disclosed, were said to have crossed into Ethiopia from Somalia and Kenya.

Wednesday's TV report showed police displaying large amounts of arms including rifles and grenades, as well as black flags with Arabic inscriptions. The report said CDs and video tapes of "jihadist messages'' were also seized during the operation.

On Tuesday, an Ethiopian court convicted 10 other militants of preparing strikes on political and economic targets in Ethiopia with the help of Somalia's al Qaeda-allied al Shabaab.

Muslims in Ethiopia staged several mass protests last year against perceived interference in Islamic affairs. Several leaders of a committee that led the protests now face trial.

Ethiopia fought Islamist rebels in Somalia in 2006-2009 and sent troops back in 2011 to fight al Shabaab, opening a third front alongside Kenyan troops and an African Union mission.

The onslaught on rebels in Somalia has gained ground in the past two years. Al Shabaab withdrew from the southern port of Kismayu in September, its last major urban stronghold, heralding its demise as a quasi-conventional military force.

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by: Behailu
January 12, 2013 5:23 AM
If you look at the charges over the last 20 years agains opposition leaders, activists, and union leaders you will understand the trend of rule of law in Ethiopia: Bekele Gerba Olbana Lelisa (Politicians in prison), Prof. Asrat (late politician and Segean, died few days after being hospitalized from prison); Taye Weldesemait (former chair of Teachers union and now lives in exile), Birhane Mewa (former chair of chamber of commerce, now lives in exile). If you claim your right, you are a threat to the tyrany, hence crimes will cooked for you as terrorist.

by: Abu Yusra from: Ethiopia
January 03, 2013 5:35 AM
I am surprsied that how INBALANCED YOU ARE IN YOUR REPORTING , you starterd the news with "ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian police have arrested 15 suspected militants allegedly ...'' then you put 'Muslims in Ethiopia staged several mass protests last year against perceived interference in Islamic affairs. Several leaders of a committee that led the protests now face trial." and concluded the news " The onslaught on rebels in Somalia has gained ground in the past two years.

Al Shabaab withdrew from the southern port of Kismayu in September, its last major urban stronghold, heralding its demise as a quasi-conventional military force. "" The Muslims have been protesting on the Gov interference on our religious matters for so long time we have been doing this peacefully ( one year) , and your media was also covering some of them , BUT NOW you are trying to link what the government says with Somalia , Alshebaba etc.. Shamful!!

by: john from: Canada
January 03, 2013 1:00 AM
It's very funny what the Goverment of Ethiopia is doing . for how long are they going to lie for there own people. Ethiopian's they knows that the government of Ethiopia is lier . There is only one terrorist group in Ethiopia that the Government . killing and arresting his own for no reason . One day and One time we will get freedom .

by: Alem
January 02, 2013 3:39 PM
Here we go again. In case VOA did not know the ruling minority in Ethiopia is causing much of the problem. It is facing strong reaction from the Muslim community on account of the government trying to reorganize the leadership by forcing it to accept a Lebanon-based teaching. As I write this the government is using all methods to select a new patriarch for the Orthodox Church using its well-placed cadres as result of which there is a tension building up across the nation and in diaspora communities.

A third matter is the upcoming municipal elections. The government has resorted to terrorizing the public by assigning A for supporters; B for electorate needing a push and C for those definite about not voting for it. Just think how this will affect how you vote. Finally, the government is soon to enact a new law against money laundering. This is just a facade as it is linked with aiding terrorist groups. And from all accounts "terrorist" automatically includes any who oppose the government for violating the Constitution.

VOA has two choices. Either to continue to provide a platform to promote tyranny OR check its sources and do its own investigation. It is unfortunate that VOA has largely and consistently misrepresented values of freedom of expression and rule of law America stood for and failed American people by not providing a true account of what goes on in nations that consume tax money.

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