Ethiopia had been fighting a terrorist group linked to Osama bin Laden years before the 9/11 attack on New York World Trade Center which left about 3,000 dead.
A leaked Cable of US Embassy Addis Ababa, dated Nov. 15, 1997 and classified as ‘Secret’, reveals United States knew the various terrorist attacks of Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya on Ethiopian soil and the group’s link to Saudi terrorist Osama Bin Laden.
The Cable was written about a year after Ethiopia conducted a major military operation on Al-Itihaad’s base inside Somalia. The Cable lists some of Al-Itihaad’s terror attacks and related activities as follows:
* Al’ittihad has established an extensive record of terrorist activities in Ethiopia.
* Ethiopian authorities have credibly implicated Al’Ittihad in the January 1996 bombing of the Ghion hotel, the July 1996 assassination attempt against minister of transport and communications Abdul-mejid and the august 1996 bombing of the Wabe-shebelle hotel in Addis Ababa. These incidents resulted in individuals killed and wounded including foreigners. Indeed, foreigners frequent those areas of the Ghion and Wabe-shebelle hotels where the bombs went off.
* the embassy had reason to suspect that the threat against the life of ambassador Shinn on July 14, 1996 (ref e) could have been linked to Al’Ittihad.
* we also call the Department’s attention to recent ROAL reports (TD314/18683-97 and TD314/09508-97) which indicate that Al’Ittihad was involved in the training/logistics of hit squads that were to infiltrate urban centers of Ethiopia to attack government officials and foreigners.
* reporting from embassy Nairobi as well as this embassy indicates that Al’Ittihad is making every effort to undermine attempts at achieving peace and a semblance of governance in Somalia.
* there are also credible reports that Al’Ittihad is involved in drug smuggling to finance its activities.
The Cable notes further that:
* Documents seized by Ethiopian forces during an august 1996 attack on an Al’Ittihad base at luuq in Somalia clearly indicate that Al’Ittihad recruits were receiving training from afghan Arabs among others with links to Iran and Sudan. Al’Ittihad is clearly actively engaged with elements linked to Saudi terrorist Usmana bin Laden.
* Al’Ittihad is dedicated to destabilizing eastern Ethiopia and undermining the government of Ethiopia as well.
* if Al’Ittihad were to consolidate its position in Somalia, there is no doubt in our minds that it would export its brand of terrorism and political Islam to other countries in region.
In the subsequent years, Ethiopian security forces had been busy tracking Al-Itihaad cells inside and outside Ethiopia, in the subsequent years, while the group continued to plot and carry out acts of terror against Ethiopia and in the region..
However, it was several years later, two weeks after the September 11, 2001 attack on New York that United States put Al-Ithaad on her list of terrorist organizations and to sanction its leaders Hassan Dahir Aweys and Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki. [Note that: The ‘Union of Islamic Court’ formed in 2006 was consists key Al’Itthad operatives, including Dahir Aweys.]
This why when Ethiopian officials reiteratively say that ‘it good US joined the counter terrorism efforts’. In fact, the Ethiopian Prime Minister emphatically put it, in his meeting with US Senators on 2007, as revealed by another Cable. The 2007 Cable states:
Its geographic position has forced Ethiopia to remain entrenched in the fight against terrorism since the 1990s to protect its own national interests, Meles stated. The Prime Minister emphasized that it was the fight against terrorism that forced Ethiopia to take military action in Somalia against the Council of Islamic Courts and affiliated militias last year and he noted that it was a unilateral decision based on Ethiopia’s interests. Meles emphasized that Ethiopia did not request financial support from the U.S. for that endeavor, but noted that Ethiopia derived adequate satisfaction from the strong U.S.-Ethiopia cooperation since then as it was evident to Ethiopia that the U.S. “was in the same trench” as Ethiopia. Ethiopia is fighting terrorism in its own interests, he stated, “we will do it with or without the U.S., but we prefer to do it with you.”
Unfortunately, the leftist media in the West view counter-terrorism only in the context of their disagreement with US former president George W. Bush. Thus, flog Ethiopia for counter-terrorism efforts she started long before 9/11.
In fact, as will be disclosed in the coming days in this blog, United States didn’t full endorsed the 2006 Ethiopia’s intervention in Somalia. Stay tuned.]
Read the 1997 Cable below. (the formatting is original.)
Reference ID – 97ADDISABABA8889
Created – 1997-11-15 05:53
Released – 2011-08-30 01:44
Classification – SECRET
Origin – Embassy Addis Ababa
R 150553Z NOV 97
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4990
S E C R E T ADDIS ABABA 008889
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/07
TAGS: PTER PREL ET
SUBJECT: DESIGNATION OF AL’ITTIHAD AS A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION
REF: A) ADDIS ABABA 8866
B) STATE 194218
C) ADDIS ABABA 7920
D) STATE 191813
E) 96 ADDIS ABABA 06142
CLASSIFIED BY DCM MARTIN G. BRENNAN. REASONS: 1.5(B), (C) AND (D)
¶1. (S) EMBASSY APPRECIATES THE DEPARTMENT’S RESPONSE (REF B) TO OUR QUERY AS TO WHY AL’ITTIHAD AL ISLAMIA WAS NOT DESIGNATED A FOREIGN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION. THE DEPARTMENT NOTED THE THREE CRITERIA FOR DESIGNATION OF A TERRORIST GROUP: A FOREIGN ORGANIZATION THAT ENGAGES IN TERRORIST ACTIVITY AND THREATENS THE SECURITY OF UNITED STATES NATIONALS OR THE NATIONAL SECURITY OF THE UNITED STATES.
¶2. (S) WE BELIEVE THAT AL’ITTIHAD MEETS THESE CRITERIA AND SHOULD BE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED FOR DESIGNATION AS A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION. AL’ITTIHAD HAS ESTABLISHED AN EXTENSIVE RECORD OF TERRORIST ACTIVITIES IN ETHIOPIA. ETHIOPIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE CREDIBLY IMPLICATED AL’ITTIHAD IN THE JANUARY 1996 BOMBING OF THE GHION HOTEL, THE JULY 1996 ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT AGAINST MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS ABDUL-MEJID AND THE AUGUST 1996 BOMBING OF THE WABE SHEBELLE HOTEL IN ADDIS ABABA. THESE INCIDENTS RESULTED IN INDIVIDUALS KILLED AND WOUNDED INCLUDING FOREIGNERS. INDEED, FOREIGNERS FREQUENT THOSE AREAS OF THE GHION AND WABE SHEBELLE HOTELS WHERE THE BOMBS WENT OFF. THE EMBASSY HAD REASON TO SUSPECT THAT THE THREAT AGAINST THE LIFE OF AMBASSADOR SHINN ON JULY 14, 1996 (REF E) COULD HAVE BEEN LINKED TO AL’ITTIHAD. WE ALSO CALL THE DEPARTMENT’S ATTENTION TO RECENT ROAL REPORTS (TD314/18683-97 AND TD314/09508-97) WHICH INDICATE THAT AL’ITTIHAD WAS INVOLVED IN THE TRAINING/LOGISTICS OF HIT SQUADS THAT WERE TO INFILTRATE URBAN CENTERS OF ETHIOPIA TO ATTACK GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND FOREIGNERS.
¶3. (S) REPORTING FROM EMBASSY NAIROBI AS WELL AS THIS EMBASSY INDICATES THAT AL’ITTIHAD IS MAKING EVERY EFFORT TO UNDERMINE ATTEMPTS AT ACHIEVING PEACE AND A SEMBLANCE OF GOVERNANCE IN SOMALIA. THERE ARE ALSO CREDIBLE REPORTS THAT AL’ITTIHAD IS INVOLVED IN DRUG SMUGGLING TO FINANCE ITS ACTIVITIES. DOCUMENTS SEIZED BY ETHIOPIAN FORCES DURING AN AUGUST 1996 ATTACK ON AN AL’ITTIHAD BASE AT LUUQ IN SOMALIA CLEARLY INDICATE THAT AL’ITTIHAD RECRUITS WERE RECEIVING TRAINING FROM AFGHAN ARABS AMONG OTHERS WITH LINKS TO IRAN AND SUDAN. AL’ITTIHAD IS CLEARLY ACTIVELY ENGAGED WITH ELEMENTS LINKED TO SAUDI TERRORIST USMANA BIN LADEN.
¶4. (S) BASED ON INDICATIONS RECEIVED TO DATE, AL’ITTIHAD IS DEDICATED TO DESTABILIZING EASTERN ETHIOPIA AND UNDERMINING THE GOVERNMENT OF ETHIOPIA AS WELL. IF AL’ITTIHAD WERE TO CONSOLIDATE ITS POSITION IN SOMALIA, THERE IS NO DOUBT IN OUR MINDS THAT IT WOULD EXPORT ITS BRAND OF TERRORISM AND POLITICAL ISLAM TO OTHER COUNTRIES IN REGION. THIS REPRESENTS A THREAT TO U.S. INTERESTS IN THE REGION AND A DIRECT THREAT TO AMERICANS.