A follow-up from the U.N.’s monitoring group’s report on the Horn of Africa has crossed our path. According to this article from the East African on Aug. 7, Eritrea is an active state sponsor of al-Shabaab’s terror, and it uses its embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, to distribute funds to jihadi operatives:
The bad boy of the Horn of Africa: How Eritrea’s strongman uses Kenya as a terror finance hub
In early July, as Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki headed to Addis Ababa to chair a meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), a six-country partnership formed to address issues of drought, security and development in the Horn of Africa, he sounded a stern warning to Eritrea.
For Kibaki, a president who is not known for his love of dramatic public gesture, to adopt a hostile posture against another country, there must have been more to the issue than the government was revealing to the public.
In March, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi — whose country has a strong security partnership with Kenya — had also warned that his government would use “all possible means” to depose Eritrea’s 67-year old strongman Isaias Afewerki, with whom he had fought a bloody secessionist war that killed 70,000 people between 1998 and 2000.
However, with the release of the UN Monitoring Group report on Somalia and Eritrea last week, it is now becoming clearer why Afewerki has gained the reputation of the bad boy of the Horn of Africa, a pariah state under international sanctions for sponsoring terrorism in the region.
While Eritrea has in the past been repeatedly accused of supporting Somalia’s Islamist militia Al Shabaab, a charge it strenuously denies, the current report catalogues Afewerki’s growing notoriety in the world of terrorism finance, and in particular the global web through which these funds are routed, with Kenya serving as a global transaction distribution hub.
The report details the country’s activities in funding the terror group, following the money trail from its citizens in the diaspora in Europe and North America, through Dubai and the Eritrean embassy in Nairobi, and into the hands of Al Shabaab, all the while concealed in convoluted and opaque informal financial networks.