Eritrean pleads not guilty to aiding terrorists
By LARRY NEUMEISTER | Posted: March 9, 2010 2:53 pm |
Evidence collected by the United States against an East African charged with providing support to a Somali terrorist organization linked to al-Qaida includes lengthy statements he made to authorities, a prosecutor told a judge Tuesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher LaVigne made the revelation during a plea proceeding for Mohamed IbrahimAhmed in Manhattan. Ahmed’s lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
Ahmed, 35, a citizen of Eritrea, was brought to the United States on Saturday from Nigeria on charges that he supported al-Shabaab, a violent extremist group in Somalia.
Prosecutors say he gave the organization 3,000 euros and studied weapons and explosives at a training camp. They say he bought an AK-47 rifle, ammunition and two grenades in April in Somalia. Al-Shabaab was designated by the U.S. as a terrorist group in 2008.
LaVigne told U.S. District Judge Kevin P. Castel that evidence the government will turn over to the defense in the case includes extensive statements Ahmed made in Nigeria, along with items recovered from him.
The prosecutor said Ahmed’s statements were in six reports that amounted to 10 to 13 pages. As the prosecutor spoke, Ahmed nodded his head as he listened to a translator. The government wouldn’t disclose details on Ahmed’s statements.
His apparent cooperation with authorities seemed evident in court. At the end of the proceeding, which lasted only a few minutes, Ahmed leaped from his chair and headed toward the door leading to the cell block next to the courtroom. The marshals who accompanied him did not appear alarmed by his rapid movement.
Court papers indicated Ahmed might have been held by authorities since November, when officials say he was found in possession of documents reflecting bomb-making instructions. The indictment also said his crimes stretch from at least January 2009 through last November.
U.S. authorities would likely welcome any information Ahmed can provide about al-Shabaab.
An indictment charging Ahmed with providing material support to the organization and receiving training from the group said a former leader of al-Shabaab who trained with al-Qaida in Afghanistan prior to 2001 had called for foreign fighters to go to Somalia to join al-Shabaab in a “holy war” against the Ethiopian and African Union forces in Somalia.
The indictment said al-Shabaab’s recruitment efforts had led men from other countries including the United States to go to Somalia to engage in violent jihad _ holy war.
The indictment said al-Shabaab was believed to have provided protection and safe haven for al-Qaida operatives wanted for a 2002 hotel bombing in Kenya and the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that resulted in 224 deaths, including 12 Americans.
It said al-Shabaab in April declared it was responsible for mortar attacks against a U.S. congressman visiting Somalia. A year before that, al-Shabaab leaders declared that their fighters would “hunt the U.S. government” and warned that the U.S. and Ethiopia should keep its citizens out of Somalia, the indictment said.
Al-Shabaab is the most active group of violent extremists targeting Somalia’s weak U.S.-backed transitional government. The indictment said it has carried out assassinations of civilians and journalists and had distributed a videotape depicting the slow decapitation of an accused spy.
Somalia, an impoverished East African nation of about 10 million people, has not had a functioning government for more than a decade.
Federal prosecutors said al-Shabaab, hoping to impose strict Islamic law throughout Somalia, has claimed responsibility for suicide bombing attacks in recent years, including five simultaneous suicide bombings targeting government, Ethiopian and United Nations facilities in October 2008.
Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:54 pm
If you recall few days ago The New York Times made a deliberate error in its reporting of the terrorism suspect held in New York as being from “Eritrea.” And as usual the evil-slave woyanes hell bent to smear Eritreans run with it, flooding the cyberspace, including this forum, with their childish propaganda to smear the good name of their former masters — the Eritreans.
But now that the terrorism suspect is identified as an Ethiopian national, most probably from Tigray, the woyane propaganda guns are silenced. You slave-woyanes got to be careful what you wish for because essentially that it will come back to bite you in the a$$ – and here it has…..
Sabrina Schroff, the man’s lawyer in the United States, says that the Ethiopian native denies all the accusations. The New York Times identifies him as Eritrean, but the Swedish Foreign Minister holds that he is originally from Ethiopia.
U.S. report accuses Eritrea of systematic abuses
Bartamaha (Nairobi):– The United States has intensified its criticism of Eritrea, saying the Red Sea state systematically abuses human rights and is a destabilizing influence in the Horn of Africa.
In its annual human rights country report, released late on Thursday, the U.S. State Department accused Eritrea of sponsoring terrorism in the Horn of Africa, and acting as a source and conduit for arms to insurgents in Somalia.
It said Asmara oversaw unlawful killings by its security forces, routine beatings and torture, arbitrary arrests, and severely restricted freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association and religion.
“(Throughout 2009) consistent and systemic gross human rights violations persisted unabated at the government’s behest,” the report said.
Citing a June report by the U.N. Munitions Monitoring Group, it said the Red Sea state was guilty of sponsoring terrorism in the Horn of Africa.
The State Department report went on: “The government acted as a principal source and conduit for arms to antigovernment, extremist, and insurgent groups in Somalia.”
Asmara says there is no concrete evidence for the allegations, accusing Washington of inventing statistics and interfering in the region, and blames years of intrusive U.S. foreign policy as a cause of the conflict in Somalia.
Ties between the United States and Eritrea have been severely strained by a series of accusations and counter-accusations.
In February, the U.S. embassy suspended its consular services and last week issued a travel warning, referring to a rise in anti-U.S. sentiment among Eritreans. Eritrea then accused Washington of trying to create chaos in the country..
Asmara has still not officially recognized the U.S. ambassador and the state-owned media are running a sustained campaign against what they say are decades of U.S. persecution.
The United States sees Eritrea as an enemy in the fight against Islamist radicalization, alleging support for the al Qaeda-linked Somali militant group al Shabaab.
U.S. prosecutors said this week an Eritrean arrested in Nigeria was brought to New York to face charges after receiving bomb-making training from al Shabaab.
The United States bankrolled Eritrea’s regional rival Ethiopia during its long occupation of Eritrea, a memory that still rankles among Eritreans when ties with Washington start to go cold.
The occupation ended in the early 1990s when the outnumbered Eritreans fought Ethiopia and won independence.
(Editing by David Clarke and Andrew Dobbie)
- Eritrean response to sanctions
The UN Security Council has today passed a shameful resolution imposing sanctions against Eritrea. The unjustifiable measures imposed on Eritrea include: an arms embargo; the inspection and seizure by Member States in their territory of such cargo to and from Eritrea; and, the imposition of a travel ban, and the freezing of assets of, Eritrea’s political and military leadership who may be blacklisted by a Committee.
As Eritrea has strongly emphasized in the past weeks, this brazen act is neither based on fact nor on the provisions of international law. It constitutes a travesty of justice and amplifies the dangers inherent in a unipolar world.
The fact of the matter is this resolution was originally conceived and feverishly executed by the United States. Britain, and especially Uganda, were co-opted as sponsors of the resolution for purposes of deceitful packaging. The US Mission to the UN further tried to invoke a resolution of the African Union to disguise the real culprit. But in the end, this cover did not work. As it happened, the US Ambassador to the UN was ultimately forced to come out of the closet and cajole UN Member States to adopt the resolution willy-nilly.
Setting aside the misguided policies of the US Administration in the Horn of Africa region and the loathsome personal agenda of the US Ambassador to the UN who could not hide her obsession to “punish Eritrea” and “break its arrogance”, what are the accusations leveled against Eritrea? How do these accusations square with the provisions of the UN Charter? Does the
heavy-handed process pursued in this case conform to the modalities and precedents of the UN Security Council in imposing sanctions against a Member State?
1. It must be stressed that the accusations against Eritrea for involvement in Somalia have never been substantiated or verified. Many Member States objected to the draft resolution in the early days precisely for these reasons though they acquiesced to US pressure later. The Somalia Monitoring Group had previously accused Eritrea for “supplying arms to those opposing the TFG”. This clause was later dropped quietly and the revised version indicts Eritrea for “providing political, financial, and logistical support to armed groups engaged in undermining peace and reconciliation in Somalia”. As pointed out earlier, these allegations were, again, not explained or substantiated. Indeed, how can Eritrea provide logistical support to armed groups in Somalia when it does not have a contiguous border with that country? The allegation of financial support is equally tenuous. Eritrea has neither the political will nor the financial clout to bankroll armed groups in Somalia. As for the accusations of political support, it is well-known that Eritrea has not recognized the TFG for cogent and well-thought out reasons. This was also the case with the externally established previous TFGs installed in Mogadishu without the consent of the Somali people. Eritrea’s impartial and balanced position emanates from its profound desire to contribute to a durable and sustainable solution to the crisis in Somalia. These political considerations aside, the fundamental legal issue at hand is whether this matter of purely sovereign national jurisdiction can be misconstrued as a subject of UN Security Council concern. Is it the mandate of the Security Council to punish any Member State on account of the political views it holds or the diplomatic choices it makes? Has the Security Council ever imposed sanctions against one or more countries because they have not recognized Kosovo, Abkhazia, or South Ossetia? Does controversy on matters of this nature empower the UN Security Council to take punitive measures against a defenseless country arbitrarily?
2. The resolution refers to the “decision of the 13th Assembly of the African Union in Sirte, calling on the Council to impose sanctions against Eritrea”. Again, this assertion is replete with distortions and half-truths. As underlined earlier, the resolution was co-sponsored by Uganda in its individual capacity. It was not tabled, but on the contrary, vehemently opposed by Libya which is the current Chair of the AU and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. More importantly, the UN Security Council’s function is not to rubber-stamp resolutions adopted by a regional organization when invoking Chapter VII of the UN Charter to impose sanctions against a Member State but to do so independently and only on the basis of incontrovertible facts and law.
3. In a feat of unprecedented cynicism, the UN Security Council Resolution recommends other punitive measures against Eritrea on account of the U.S. fabricated “border dispute with Djibouti”. For seven long years now since the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission gave its final and binding Award on the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia in April 2002, the Security Council has refused to shoulder its responsibilities to ensure the respect of the arbitration decision in accordance with the provisions of the Algiers Peace Treaty that was largely drafted and explicitly guaranteed by this same body. This has encouraged Ethiopia to violate its treaty obligations, the UN Charter and international law to continue its occupation of Badme and other sovereign Eritrean lands. This same Security Council is now singing to a different tune, simply because it is played by Washington, to threaten Eritrea with punitive measure for a non-existent border conflict.
Security Council Resolution 1907(2009) is thus not based on law and incontrovertible facts. The United States has simply employed its preponderant influence to ram through unjustifiable sanctions against a small country. What is shameful is that the United States has been allowed to use the platform and authority of the United Nations to perpetrate injustices against the people and Government of Eritrea; for the second time in recent history. What is shameful is that other major powers in the UN Security Council cannot go beyond expressing their disappointment, mostly in private meetings, to check the excesses of Washington. What is shameful is that the United States can turn the tables and victimize an innocent nation for the very crimes that it is responsible for in the first place. Because the truth is, the United States is mostly responsible for the mayhem and suffering that is bedeviling Somalia today. Indeed, it is common knowledge that as intractable as the Somali crisis is, there were real hopes of a turnaround for the better in 2006. For reasons that defy reason, the Bush Administration then acted to roll back those promising developments to instigate and support Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia. That single debacle claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Somalis, made half a million people homeless and aggravated the humanitarian crisis in Somalia to unprecedented levels. But then, the Security Council is not taking action on the basis of justice and legality. It is taking action on the basis of the existing power balance in a largely unipolar world. This does not bode well for international justice and peace. This is why today is a shameful day for the United Nations.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
23 December 2009
Somalia backs UN sanctions on Eritrea
MOGADISHU (Somalilandpress) –The Somali envoy to the United nations security council, Elmi Ahmad Du’ale, has said the sanctions imposed on Eritrea by the Security Council on 23 December were “proof” that the country aided terrorism.
The Security Council on Wednesday imposed sanctions Eritrea over providing military support to Islamist insurgents battling the Somali government.
“The sanctions were based, first and foremost, on proof that Eritrea supports terrorism and extremist groups opposed to the Somali government, which have been the stumbling block to stability in Somalia” Du’ale said in a strong drawl in an interview with Hornafrik local radio in Mogadishu on Thursday.