Eritrean Terrorism: Key personalities and facilities | UN Report

The United Nations had already sanction Eritrea for destabilizing the Horn of Africa region. Its resolution 1907/2009, explicitly prohibits provision of ‘support from Eritrea to armed opposition groups which aim to destabilize the region’ and also ‘harbouring, financing, facilitating, supporting, organizing, training, or inciting individuals or groups to perpetrate acts of violence or terrorist acts against other States or their citizens in the region’.

But that didn’t restrain the Asmaran strong man, President Isaias Afeworki.Isaias_Afeworki-Eritrea_President

United Nation’s Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea noted in its latest report that it has ‘obtained firm evidence of Eritrean support for armed opposition groups throughout the region, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan’. And, this involves Eritrean diplomatic, intelligence and the ruling party(PFDJ)-affiliated networks in Kenya, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere, according to the report.

The whole activity is directed ‘by a small but efficient team of officers from the National Security Office, the Eritrean military and the PFDJ leadership under the direct supervision of the President’s Office’, according to the report. It also noted that:

The secretive nature of these institutions, a certain degree of overlap between their areas of responsibility, and the subversion of official structures in favour of personal loyalties and informal authority, mean that precise chains of command are kept deliberately opaque. Moreover, many senior officers fulfill multiple functions and may report to more than one chain of command. The Monitoring Group has received recent information indicating that a reorganization of the Eritrean security services is currently under way, further complicating efforts to describe these structures.

Yet, the report revealed key players in the Eritrean regional terror, beginning from the office of the President.

With regard to training centers: Though Eritrea maintains an extensive and complex network of training centers, camps and facilities, the Monitoring group has been able to confirm that ‘the National Security Agency is responsible for training of foreign armed opposition groups, while training centers are often co-located with military facilities, and logistics and material are often provided by the military.

Eritrea has declined to respond to the Monitoring Group’s queries concerning its support for armed groups in Djibouti and Ethiopia. Nonetheless, the Monitoring Group’s gathered intelligence concerning  the training facilities from other sources, including, but not exclusively, interviews with over 100 former members of six armed opposition groups – namely, Al-Shabaab; Hisb’ul Islam/Somali Islamic Front [aka, Jabhadda Islaamiga Soomaaliyeed or JABISO]; Hisb’ul Islam/ARS Asmara; Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF); Oromo Liberation Front (OLF); and Front pour la restauration de l’unité et de la démocratie (FRUD). The report emphatically notes that ‘testimony from these interviews has been consistent with respect to locations, place, names, identities of key officers and the nature of the training given, particularly in central and eastern Eritrea.’

Remarking its overall observation of Eritrea’s destabilization or terrorist acts, the report lumped the acts into four major violations of the UN Security Council Resolutions:

  • Support to Somali armed opposition groups in violation of resolutions 1844 (2008) and 1907 (2009);
  • Support to Ethiopian armed opposition groups via Somalia, in violation of resolutions 1844 (2008) and 1907 (2009);
  • Support to non-Somali armed groups engaged in acts of destabilization or terrorism in violation of resolution 1907 (2009);
  • Operations using proxy forces that fall under direct Eritrean command and control, falsely “flagged” as domestic opposition groups, in violation of resolution 1907 (2009).

Here are key officials and facilities of Eritrean Terrorism. [Photos of a few of the officials and training centers are available, thus will be posted in the coming days.]


The Monitoring Group has been able to identify some key officers responsible for the direction and conduct of Eritrean external intelligence operations in the Horn of Africa region, as well as their principal functions. They include:

  1. Brigadier General Te’ame Goitom Kinfu (also known as Wedi Meqelle): usually known simply as Te’ame or Wedi Meqelle, he is the chief of Eritrean external intelligence operations in the Horn, and has been named in previous Monitoring Group reports for his involvement in support for Somali armed opposition groups. General Te’ame has also used the aliases Te’ame Abraha Selassie, Abraham Te’ame and Fitsum Berhane Tewelde. The Monitoring Group has recently obtained details of two travel documents previously used by General Te’ame.
  2. Colonel Fitsum Yishak (also known as “Lenin”): Colonel Fitsum acts as Te’ame’s deputy for external operations and supervises training for regional armed opposition groups. He is also directly involved in training of highland Ethiopian (i.e. Tigrayan and Amhara) armed opposition groups.
  3. General Teklai Kifle “Manjus”, commander of the Western military zone and border units. Colonel Fitsum Yishak also reports to this general and works closely with him in cross-border smuggling activities.
  4. Colonel Tewelde Habte Negash: [Also known by the aliases “Musa”, “Amanuel Kidane” and “Wedi Kidane”,] Colonel Negash works closely with Te’ame and is responsible for training of and support to Somali armed opposition groups, and has been involved in training for some Ethiopian opposition groups. He is reportedly an explosives expert. He has been deported from Kenya on more than one occasion.
  5. Colonel Gemachew Ayana (also known as “Kercho”): Colonel Gemachew is responsible for training of and support to OLF.
  6. Colonel “Hatsaynet”: Based at Kiloma in eastern Eritrea, Colonel “Hatsaynet” is the officer-in-charge of military intelligence in that zone and has been involved in the training of and support to Afar and Somali opposition groups. [According to one source, the real name of Colonel “Hatsaynet’s” is Teklai Girmay, but the Monitoring Group has not yet been able to verify this with other sources.]

Other officials involved in external intelligence operations include:

  1. Tesfalidet Teklai Selassie: Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, he controls access to President Isaias Afwerki and is responsible for communicating the President’s instructions to Government and party officials, including the security services. He occasionally undertakes special missions abroad on behalf of the President;
  2. General Teklai Kifle “Manjus”: Commander of the Eritrean border forces as well as the western military zone, and Fitsum’s direct superior in the military chain of command;
  3. Admiral Humed Karekare: Commander of the Eritrean naval forces, and directly involved in support to the Front pour la restauration de l’unité et la démocratie (FRUD) in Djibouti.

In relation to Kiloma training facility

  1. General Gerezgiher Andemariam “Wuchu” (eastern sector head)
  2. General Haile Samuel “China”(frm. eastern sector head)
  3. Colonel Asaynet, (supervises training in the Southern Red Sea zone; 2010 – still?)
  4. Colonel ‘Wedi Seyoum’ (died in 2010 supervising of the Southern Red Sea zone)
  5. Colonel Assaynet at Kiloma (involved with fresh trainees in 2008)
  6. ‘Tesfay’ (training school commander in 2008; now?)
  7. Colonel ‘Simon’ (supervised training course in 2008; now?)
  8. Colonel “Musa”, aka Tewelde Habte Negash (acts in a supervisory capacity. in 2008; now?)

Instructors at Kiloma include:

  1. ‘Mesfin’ (navigation)
  2. ‘Yosef’ (heavy weapons and navigation)
  3. Dawid (anti tank weapons) and
  4. ‘Mengiste-ab’

In relation to Een training camp(Dec 2010 information)

  1. Colonel Jamal (camp commander)
  2. Colonel Salim (Deputy Camp Commander)
  3. Colonel Abraha (commander of special ‘OLF’ facility)
  4. Major Debesai (explosives)
  5. Captain Tesfaye (unarmed combat)
  6. Simon (navigation)
  7. Ibrahim (basic military skills)

In relation to a separate training facility at Een, est. in 2009 for the foiled plot to bomb AU summit. (See: Text of UN Report on Eritrea’s plot to bomb AU summit).

  1. Colonel Jamal  (general supervising)
  2. Colonel Abraha (commander of the facility)

[***The listing, above, is focused on Eritrea government officials. There are, however, citizens of Horn of Africa and beyond, involved in the destabilization and terrorism network. They will be listed in a forthcoming post.]


Eritrea maintains an extensive and complex network of training centres, camps and facilities. While training of foreign armed opposition groups is conducted under the auspices of the National Security Agency, training centres are often co-located with military facilities, and logistics and material are often provided by the military.

Training Facilities

1. Kiloma: Kiloma is the principal training facility in eastern Eritrea is at Kiloma, near Assab in Southern Red Sea Province. It is a permanent Eritrean military installation, which serves ‘as a hub for smaller, apparently temporary facilities established for the purposes of training foreign armed groups’. Former trainees include ONLF, Hisb’ul Islam and Al-Shabaab. Subjects taught at the school included basic infantry training, heavy weapons, explosives, telecommunications, tank training, METIS, and SAMs. Sixty of the trainees also received some form of leadership training.

2. Ras Darma: In June 2008… at Kiloma was briefly relocated to Ras Darma, a coastal village to the north of Assab, further from the Djiboutian border.

3. Een: The training camp at Een has been operational since at least late 2008 or early 2009. Subjects taught at Een included basic military training, “commando” or “ranger” training, which involved advanced infantry skills and unarmed combat, weapons training, explosives, sniper skills, and preparation for operations in arid environments.

4. A separate training facility was established at Een in late 2009, for OLF recruits being prepared for a special, covert mission timed to coincide with the February 2010 African Union summit in Addis Ababa (see OLF case study in main section of the report).

5. Ghibdo: the first training camp for Djiboutian insurgencies was established at Ghibdo, about 40 km from Assab port, in approximately October 2008.

6. Debasim: In mid-2009, the trainings at Ghibdo camp was moved further away from the border to Debasim due to a number of desertions,

7. Anda’ali: the trainings at Ghibdo was moved to Anda’ali by the end of 2009. The training facility at Anda’ali is primitive and offers only basic military training and small arms training.

Other facilities: Several training facilities have been identified, some of them very rudimentary and probably temporary. The most important of these include:

1. Asmara: safe houses in Asmara hosted foreign fighters and were described as centres of theoretical training in explosives, intelligence and counter-intelligence / operational security; areas in the vicinity of Asmara, especially quarries, were described as having been used for practical explosives training;

2. Dek’emhare: areas in the vicinity of Dek’emhare were used for some basic infantry and explosives training, notably the Hamalait Hotel;

3. Gahayre: formerly a training site for Somali armed opposition groups, including Hisb’ul Islam; uncertain whether it is still active;

4. Muluber: described by OLF fighters as an exclusively OLF facility under OLF leadership

5. Teseney: infantry training

[***There are also facilities in Somalia and elsewhere that are not listed above.]

Note: The info above is compiled from two sections of the ‘Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 1916 (2010)’. In particular, from section  ‘VII. Support to armed groups involved in violence, destabilization or terrorist acts’ and ‘Annex 8.1 Eritrean training facilities’.

You may read the text of the two sections HERE or download the whole document HERE.

Check the Eritrean Terrorism Archive for previous and upcoming posts.

Daniel Berhane