Category: "Ogaden Ethiopia"

UN presses Ethiopia to probe Ogaden allegations

November 28th, 2007
Ogaden Map NYT

UN presses Ethiopia to probe Ogaden allegations

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 28 (Reuters) - U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes urged Ethiopia on Wednesday to investigate allegations of rights abuses in the Ogaden region where troops have battled rebels this year in an upsurge of an old conflict.

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Ethiopia - Somalia : A Somali Jihadist gets 10 years in prison

November 28th, 2007
Nuradin Abdi, shown in an undated photo, has been indicted on four charges of providing material support to al Qaeda.

"he [Abdi]intended to visit Germany and Saudi Arabia for the purpose of "Umrah (Holly[sic] - Mecca) and visit my relative," when he actually planned to travel to Ogaden, Ethiopia, for the purpose of obtaining military-style training in preparation for violent jihad." Source: DOJ

Ohio Man Sentenced To Ten Years Imprisonment for Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Terrorists

Source: United States Department of Justice

An Ohio man has been sentenced to serve ten years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Kenneth L. Wainstein, U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Lockhart of the Southern District of Ohio, Assistant Director Joseph Billy, Jr., of the FBI Counterterrorism Division, and Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced today.

Nuradin M. Abdi, 35, a Somali national living in Columbus, Ohio, was named in a four-count indictment returned under seal in the U.S. District Court in Columbus on June 10, 2004. On July 31, 2007, Abdi pleaded guilty in federal court to Count One of the indictment, which charged him with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

Count One of the indictment specifically alleged that on April 27, 1999, Abdi applied to the Immigration and Naturalization Service - now known as ICE - for a travel document, wherein he concealed his destination by representing that he intended to visit Germany and Saudi Arabia for the purpose of "Umrah (Holly[sic] - Mecca) and visit my relative," when he actually planned to travel to Ogaden, Ethiopia, for the purpose of obtaining military-style training in preparation for violent jihad. Abdi allegedly sought training in radio usage, guns, guerilla warfare and bombs.

“Today's sentence is just punishment for a defendant who exploited our country's freedoms and manipulated our immigration system on numerous occasions, all in an effort to support and conspire with international terrorists,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Kenneth L. Wainstein.

“I want to commend the men and women who have diligently investigated and prosecuted this case,” U.S. Attorney Lockhart said. “They are successfully carrying out one of our nation’s most important jobs in the fight against terrorism - stopping those in this country who provide support to terrorists.”

“Nuradin Abdi's sentence should send a very clear message to those who, like Abdi, provide support to terrorist organizations and operatives. The FBI will not tolerate the propagation of violence and discord by those who wish to harm the U.S. and its citizens, and we will continue to work with our partners to pursue suspected terrorists and their supporters” said Assistant Director Joseph Billy, Jr., FBI Counterterrorism Division.

“Today's sentencing brings to conclusion one aspect of a critical joint investigation that identified and stopped three terrorist supporters bent on causing panic and significant harm to U.S. citizens,” said ICE Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers. “This investigation highlights the aggressive pursuit by ICE and the Department of Justice to identify and prosecute those who seek to terrorize America and its allies.”

According to the statement of facts agreed upon by the government and the defendant, Abdi first entered the United States in 1995 using a false passport. He once again illegally entered the United States from Canada in 1997. Abdi was later granted asylum in this country based on a series of false statements.

In the ensuing years, Abdi befriended co-conspirators Christopher Paul and Iyman Faris in Ohio. Christopher Paul was later arrested and indicted in April 2007 on charges of providing material support, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives). Iyman Faris was later convicted of providing material support and conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda. He is currently serving a 20-year prison term.

Federal agents arrested Abdi on Nov. 28, 2003. Abdi subsequently agreed to be interviewed by FBI agents and admitted conspiring with Faris, Paul and others to provide material support to foreign terrorists. These admissions by Abdi have been corroborated in a variety of ways, including bank records, travel records, invoices, and items seized in search warrants.

This case was investigated by the Southern Ohio Joint Terrorism Task Force, a multi-agency operation that includes agents and officers from 15 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The investigation was a joint investigation by agents and officers of the JTTF, specifically ICE Special Agents Bob Medellin and Rich Wilkens; and FBI Special Agents Steve Flowers and John Corbin.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dana M. Peters and Robyn J. Hahnert from the Southern District of Ohio and Sylvia Kaser, Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Section.

Ethiopia - Situation in eastern Ethiopia has improved - UN

November 27th, 2007
Somali Region Ethiopia

Humanitarian situation in eastern Ethiopia has improved, says U.N. humanitarian chief

KEBRIDEHAR, Ethiopia: (AP)
The U.N. humanitarian chief urged officials to allow freedom of movement and more aid agencies in the eastern Ethiopian region of Ogaden, where a low-level insurgency has escalated.

John Holmes, the U.N.'s humanitarian chief, visited the remote region Tuesday. In recent months, Ethiopia has expelled the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Dutch branch of Medecins Sans Frontieres from Ogaden. But in recent weeks the government has allowed 19 non-governmental organizations to return to work in the Ogaden, where the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front attacked a Chinese-run oil exploration field in April, killing 74 people.

In May, the Ethiopian military began counterinsurgency operations, hurting commercial trade and making it difficult to deliver food aid. The rebels, along with several aid and human rights groups, say the military has burned villages and blocked aid and trade into the region. The government denies those accusations.

Holmes said the situation was difficult to assess, but urged local officials to remove transportation barriers and increase the number of non-governmental organizations in the region to 40.

"My impression is it's better than it was," he said. "If there was freedom to move and to trade and to buy and to sell there really wouldn't be a problem."

But, he added, "you can only learn a limited amount from a short visit, obviously. But there is clearly a risk of a serious humanitarian situation here .... We need to make a difference in the next three months."

In the town of Kebridehar, there are signs humanitarian aid was getting through and having a positive effect.

Women thronged a bustling food distribution point, joyfully lugging sacks of wheat and cans of oil to their homes.

"There was some malnutrition before the food distribution, but now we're OK," said Nasra Nadif, 42, a mother of eight. She attributed the lack of food to poor rains in recent months.

Abdi Gani Yusuf, the head of security for the zone, said the government had caught 250 Ogaden National Liberation Front fighters in the past six months. He did not say where the fighters were held.

"These days the security situation is very calm," he said. "There are no security problems these days."

In the zone's only major hospital — a decrepit place with sagging and broken beds — a few patients lounged listlessly in the midday heat. The pharmacy shelves were empty, though Dr. Dereje Seyoum said the hospital's supplies had not been affected by recent transportation prohibitions.

The ONLF is fighting to overthrow the government for what it says are human rights abuses and to establish greater autonomy in a region being heavily explored for oil and gas. The government accuses the rebels of being terrorists funded by its archenemy Eritrea.

Ethiopia to maintain crackdown on Ogaden rebels: PM

November 27th, 2007
Meles Zenawi
File Photo: Meles Zenawi

Ethiopia to maintain crackdown on Ogaden rebels: PM

Ethiopia will sustain its crackdown on separatist rebels in the restive Ogaden region, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Tuesday, adding that scores of insurgents had been killed.

The military launched a crackdown on the region after the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) attacked a Chinese-run oil venture in April, killing 77 people.

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Ethiopia - US to Double Aid to Ogaden region

November 25th, 2007
Meles Zenawi with Director of U.S Foreign Assistance and USAID Administrator, Henerietta H.Fore Photo: ENA

Ethiopia - US to Double Aid to Ethiopia's Ogaden

By Peter Heinlein (VOA News)

25 November 2007

Addis Ababa -
The United States says it is more than doubling humanitarian aid to Ethiopia's troubled Ogaden region. The announcement was made Saturday following talks beween top U.S. foreign aid officials and Ethiopia's prime minister on the importance of stability in the Horn of Africa region. From Addis Ababa, VOA's Peter Heinlein reports the meeting came days before a deadline in the simmering border dispute between Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea.

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Henrietta Fore's talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi touched on tensions along the Ethiopia-Eritrea border and on efforts to rush emergency food aid to the insurgency-wracked Ogaden region.

Ethiopia is again allowing several humanitarian agencies into the Ogaden after expelling a number of groups last July, including the International Committee of the Red Cross. Fore said she told Mr. Meles of Washington's concern that many people in the conflict zone do not have access to basic necessities.

"We spoke about our shared concern to be sure we are looking out for the food security of the people in Ogaden and the work of our many partners who are working in the Ogaden," said Fore. "We have a good deal of assistance that is going into the Ogaden."

Fore said the United States is more than doubling this year's assistance program for Ogaden from $19 million to about $45 million. With the United Nations estimating nearly a million Ogadeni people in need of food, USAID mission director for Ethiopia Glenn Anders termed the assistance an emergency.

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Meles Zenawi held talks with USAID Director

"Our office of food for peace has committed to $25 million more in predominantly food grains, but that includes oil and corn; soybean as well, and that's already purchased and on its way," said Anders.

USAID administrator Fore acknowledged that she had discussed with Ethiopia's leader Washington's concerns about the possibility of renewed outbreak of war along the disputed border with neighboring Eritrea. An estimated 70,000 people died when the Horn of Africa rivals fought in the late 90s, and tensions are again high as a border commission named to adjudicate the dispute prepares to close down late this month.

Fore says she mentioned to Prime Minister Meles that providing aid is easier when countries are stable and peaceful.

"It is always easier to help a country at peace. It is because you can move around the country. People have more hope and more chance of having a little business, going to school, building a clinic," she added. "People always have more hope if there is stability and security in a country."

Sitting alongside the USAID administrator, Washington's ambassador to Ethiopia Donald Yamamoto played down the fact that an independent commission charged with the demarkation of the 1000-kilometer border between Ethiopia and Eritrea is to dissolve later this month. He says Washington believes the two countries must settle their differences themselves, as stated in the Algiers Accord that ended their last war.

"The only way resolution can be achieved is from the parties themselves addressing the issues directly with each other and implementing decisions on resolution of the border issues, and also their own differences," said Yamamoto.

With border tensions high, a number of high-ranking officials will be visiting the Horn of Africa region in the next weeks to impress on officials the importance of preventing another outbreak of war.

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes is due in Addis Ababa Monday, and will visit the Ogaden region Tuesday. Several U.S. lawmakers and officials are said to be planning trips to Ethiopia soon, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.