News: Joint intelligence, security task force says it foils two underground cells plotting to disrupt election, train youth in Amhara region & Addis Abeba

By Siyanne Mekonnen @Siyaanne

Addis Abeba, May 6, 2021 – The joint intelligence and security task force comprised of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), the Federal Police Commission, and Information Network Security Agency (INSA) announced that it has foiled underground cells allegedly plotting to disrupt the 6th general election.

According to the statement, the group was being provided with financial logistic support by ‘extremist’ diaspora based in different countries. It is also supported by members of political parties both opposition and ruling parties alike as well as members and former members of the defense forces and other clandestine armed groups. The statement also disclosed that the task force has collected various evidence including firearms, documents of money transfers and related documents. 

The organizers have been using social media to spread messages urging the Amhara people to take up arms and defend themselves from ethnically motivated attacks

Joint task force

In the statement, the task force revealed that the group was intercommunicating with officials within the government’s security apparatus and plotting to assassinate key leaders and entice violence in the aftermath. It also created a network tasked with implementation of existing plans to disrupt elections then form a transitional government. Organizers of a movement called, according to the statement  “We will not remain silent about Addis Abeba” were receiving instructions from the founders of the movement based in the country and abroad. The movement was using social media to exchange information having two social media groups with 1,285 and 308 members both run by diasporas who live in Germany and the United States. Moreover the organizers were planning to create a riot through influential youth that were recruited in various parts of the city who were able to organize and assemble up to 300 youth each, the statement claimed.   

The organizers have been using social media to spread messages urging the Amhara people to take up arms and defend themselves from ethnically motivated attacks. A clandestine group backed by ‘extremist’ members of the diaspora but based in Addis Abeba was caught red handed with leaflets with provocative messages such as  “An election during the killing of Amharas and children’s blood should be stopped” the statement from the task force reads.

Among the alleged leaders of the group was Yihune Jembere, a military officer relieved of his duties due to ethical misconduct. He was allegedly collecting intel on government officials from members of the military. The statement also mentioned the alleged involvement of another military officer, Commander Mulugeta Tsige,  a former member of the ENDF. The two officers were recruiting and training youth in Addis Abeba and Amhara region to create a riot in the capital and other parts of the country. The officers were allegedly exchanging information with members of the group based abroad; the statement specified an individual called Teshale Kebede Ido, a diaspora residing in Germany.

The statement by the joint task force further said that the group also created a movement called “Defenders of the survival of Amhara people”  aimed at painting the attacks on Amahra people as genocide to fulfill their political ambitions. The task force said it seized 1,000 copies of an 85 pages long draft of a constitution allegedly prepared by Professor Abera Meshesha, a diaspora who is based in the United States. The statement also said that the document was printed in Addis Abeba whereas the cash for its printing was allegedly deposited to the bank account of an individual called Nadew Zewde.

The group’s base in Germany has 45 members according to the statement, and it was using a non profit organization “Meseret” to import some materials duty free. The owner of the NGO Meseret Agaze was importing electronic and telecommunication devices along with education materials and clothing needed for the NGO. Meseret was caught red handed, as stated in the statement, distributing the electronic and telecommunication equipment to the organizers of the group.

The task force said that it had been following this organized network since its conception and that it was able to halt the group’s operations to disrupt the election and take over the government’s seat. Fifteen members of the group including Commander Mulugeta Tsige and Officer Yihune Jembere were arrested with firearms, cellphones, computers, leaflets, bank books and other documents in their possession. As for the members of the group who are living abroad, namely Professor Abera Meshesha, Teshale Kebede Ido, Yeharerwerk Gashaw, Asfaw Jebesa, Meareg, Biniyam, Kirubel, Lishan Ahmed, Genet, Aregash, LIshan Gizaw, Hagere Addis, the statement said that the task force was working with the Interpol to apprehend named individuals and bring them back to Ethiopia to face justice.

Finally the joint statement expressed gratitude to government leadership, members of security forces, and citizens both in the country and abroad for participating in averting the violence planned by the group. The task force called on the public and the diaspora to continue notifying security forces of similar plots against the country. AS

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