Country Report on Terrorism 2015 - Chapter 2 - Ethiopia

Overview: The continuing threat of al-Shabaab emanating from Somalia dominated the Government of Ethiopia’s security posture and the Ethiopia National Defense Force’s (ENDF’s) counterterrorism efforts in Somalia. Therefore, the Government of Ethiopia’s counterterrorism efforts focused on fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia and pursuing potential threats in Ethiopia. In 2015, the Government of Ethiopia collaborated with the United States on regional security issues and participated in capacity building trainings.

In April, the Government of Ethiopia denounced the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in response to a video released by ISIL in Libya that showed the beheading of 30 Ethiopian migrants. In October, the Government of Ethiopia arrested 20 Ethiopians alleged to support ISIL, which marked the first time the Ethiopian government arrested alleged ISIL supporters.

On December 11, an unknown attacker threw a hand grenade at a crowd that injured about 10 outside the Anwar Mosque in Addis Ababa. The motive and other details of the attack were unclear.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Government of Ethiopia uses the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP), implemented in 2009, to prosecute crimes associated with terrorist activity. It also continued to use the ATP, however, to detain and prosecute journalists, opposition figures, and activists – including Muslim activists, releasing some but also making new arrests during the year. However, prosecutors are increasingly focusing on evidence-based prosecutions. Prior to the court reaching a decision, the prosecution examined its evidence against five Zone 9 bloggers and dismissed the cases for lack of sufficient evidence in July.

The ENDF, the Ethiopian Federal Police (EFP), Ethiopian intelligence, and regional special police worked successfully to block al-Shabaab attacks in Ethiopia. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), which had broad authority for intelligence, border security, and criminal investigation, was responsible for overall counterterrorism management in coordination with the ENDF and EFP. The three security organizations comprise the Ethiopian Task Force for Counterterrorism, a federal-level committee to coordinate counterterrorism efforts. NISS facilitated some coordination with the United States.

Border security was a persistent concern for the Government of Ethiopia, and the government worked to tighten border controls with Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan. Ethiopia employed the Terrorist Interdiction Program’s Personal Identification Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES) to conduct traveler screening and watchlisting at airports and other points of entry.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Ethiopia is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and its mutual evaluation was adopted by that body in March 2015. Ethiopia has yet to finalize its National Risk Assessment for money laundering and terrorism finance. The Government of Ethiopia’s poor recordkeeping system in general, and lack of centralized law enforcement records in particular, hindered the country’s ability to identify and investigate trends in money laundering and terrorism financing. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Countering Violent Extremism: The Government of Ethiopia prioritized countering violent extremism initiatives in 2015, which included participating in the September Leader’s Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism hosted by President Obama in New York. The Government of Ethiopia adopted strategies and programs to counter violent extremism, the most noteworthy of which was the Growth and Transformation Plan II, a five-year plan that seeks to address the socio-economic factors that terrorists exploit for recruitment. The Government of Ethiopia planned to support the CVE Center for Excellence in Djibouti to discuss prevention and counter-messaging strategies.

At the same time, the Government of Ethiopia’s continued restrictions on funding to civil society and NGOs under the Charities and Societies Proclamation limited NGO activity – including countering violent extremism programming targeting at-risk youth and engaging communities and credible leaders.

International and Regional Cooperation: The Government of Ethiopia participated in AU-led counterterrorism efforts as part of AMISOM forces in Somalia. At the AU, Ethiopia participated in counterterrorism-related efforts. Ethiopia is chair member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and participated in its counterterrorism programs and trainings; and the IGAD Security Sector Program, which builds the capacity of criminal justice officials in the region to implement rule of law-based approaches to preventing and responding to terrorism.

The Government of Ethiopia also supported counterterrorism efforts in Somalia with the Somali National Army (SNA) and other regional security initiatives. In multilateral efforts against terrorism, the Government of Ethiopia generally supported international directives that sought to stem terrorism, including IGAD’s efforts to encourage the dissemination of information concerning cross-border terrorist activity. Ethiopia participated in the inaugural meeting of the Border Security Initiative, which was held in Morocco under the auspices of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. Ethiopia is an active member of the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism.