By William Tucker
Last week the U.S. Treasury Department designated six individuals for supporting the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab. Among the six are two Eritrean intelligence officials who have a long track record of supporting terrorist movements in the horn of Africa. In the past, Asmara has steadfastly denied any accusation of supporting terrorism in general and al-Shabaab in particular. The accusations in question came from a UN report on illicit Eritrean activities going back to 2003. Although these accusations are not new, the U.S. has refrained from pushing Asmara too far on the subject. Ethiopian operations in Somalia have long had U.S. backing and Washington may have opted against pursuing the issue as a means to avoid raising tension between Ethiopia and Eritrea. This is speculation, but it fits the timeline of border spats between the two African nations and Ethiopian incursions into Somalia. Asmara’s reaction to the designation of two Eritrean citizens will certainly be worth watching.