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UN.org: Eritrea report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea submitted in accordance with resolution 2317 (2016)

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Thursday, 09 November 2017

Eritrea report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea submitted in accordance with resolution 2317 (2016)
 
9 November 2017

Letter dated 2 November 2017 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea addressed to the President of the Security Council

      On behalf of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea, and in accordance with paragraph 40 of Security Council resolution 2317 (2016), I have the honour to transmit herewith the report on Eritrea of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.

      In this connection, the Committee would appreciate it if the present letter and the report were brought to the attention of the members of the Security Council and issued as a document of the Council.

(Signed) Kairat Umarov
Chair
Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992)
and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea

 

                 Letter dated 2 November 2017 from the members of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea addressed to the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea

      In accordance with paragraph 40 of Security Council resolution 2317 (2016), we have the honour to transmit herewith the report on Eritrea of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.

(Signed) James Smith
Coordinator
Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea

(Signed) Jay Bahadur
Armed groups expert

(Signed) Charles Cater
Natural resources expert

(Signed) Déirdre Clancy
Humanitarian expert

(Signed) Tapani Holopainen
Finance expert

(Signed) Nazanine Moshiri
Arms expert

(Signed) Richard Zabot
Arms expert

 

 

                 Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 2317 (2016): Eritrea

 

 

 

   Summary

      For the fifth consecutive mandate, the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea was not permitted to visit Eritrea to meet with representatives of the Government or conduct investigations. Despite the call by the Security Council, in resolution 2317 (2016), for a review of sanctions on Eritrea and efforts by the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea to encourage the Government of Eritrea to engage constructively with both the Group and the Committee, the stalemate persists.

      Throughout its current mandate, the Monitoring Group investigated allegations by a neighbouring Member State of support provided by Eritrea to Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Despite receiving some corroborating information from another regional Member State and regional administrations in Somalia, the Group has not been able to substantiate the allegations. As such, the Group has, for its fourth consecutive mandate, not found conclusive evidence of support provided by Eritrea to Al‑Shabaab.

      The Monitoring Group has also not found evidence of large shipments of weapons or ammunition to or from Eritrea in violation of the two-way arms embargo established pursuant to paragraphs 5 and 6 of resolution 1907 (2009).

      The Monitoring Group found evidence of external support, in the form of both training and technical equipment, provided to, or intended for, the Eritrean military. The Group also found evidence indicating the potential military use of rotary-blade aircraft overhauled by Member States in 2016. In the light of the measures taken by the Government of Eritrea to conceal the military associations of the aircraft, however, the Group is not implying that authorities of these Member States violated the arms embargo.

      The Monitoring Group maintains that the establishment and continuing expansion of a military base of the United Arab Emirates near the port city of Assab, which involves the transfer of military materiel to and exchange of military assistance with Eritrea, constitutes a violation of the arms embargo.

      Eritrea continued to provide support to armed groups intent on destabilizing Ethiopia and Djibouti, including the Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD-Armé), Patriotic Ginbot Sebat (PG7) and the Tigray People’s Democratic Movement. While none of these groups poses a critical threat to either Djibouti or Ethiopia, the support of Eritrea for them continues to generate insecurity in the region and undermines the normalization of relations between regional Member States.

      The impact of the Gulf crisis reverberated throughout the Horn of Africa and affected developments during the mandate, particularly those relating to the implementation of resolution 1862 (2009). On 13 June, the withdrawal of the observer forces deployed by Qatar on the Djibouti side of the Djibouti-Eritrea border led to an escalation of tensions between Djibouti and Eritrea. Evidence available to the Monitoring Group indicates ongoing activities on the Eritrean side of the border at Ras Doumeira.

      The lack of clarity that has persisted on the mediation role of Qatar within the framework of the agreement of 6 June 2010 created new uncertainties for the implementation of resolution 1862 (2009). Brief progress in 2016 on the transfer of remaining prisoners of war from Eritrea to Djibouti has also stalled.

      Since the adoption of resolution 2023 (2011), the Monitoring Group has documented a chronic lack of transparency in the mining sector, which has continued during the current mandate. The limited transparency that exists in the mining sector has been facilitated by the reporting of foreign corporations. The Group is consequently able to report that Eritrea is obtaining revenue from its mining sector, but is unable to prove that such funds are being used to finance specific violations of sanctions.

      Given that the Monitoring Group has been unable to find conclusive evidence of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab in Somalia for four consecutive mandates, the Group recommends that the Security Council consider disassociating the sanction regimes for Eritrea and Somalia. The Group recommends establishing a separate Security Council sanctions committee and a separate monitoring group on Eritrea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     * The annexes are being circulated in the language of submission only and without formal editing.

Contents

 

 

 

Page

  1.    Introduction..............................................

6

    1. Mandate..............................................

6

    1. Methodology..........................................

7

  1.    Arms embargo............................................

8

    1. Flow of military equipment to or through Eritrea.........

8

    1. Flow of military equipment from Eritrea.................

10

    1. Support provided to the Eritrean armed forces...........

12

    1. Overhaul of equipment potentially used by the Eritrean military 

13

    1. Expansion of the military base of the United Arab Emirates in Assab, Eritrea

15

  1.    Support for armed groups in the region.....................

16

    1. Patriotic Ginbot Sebat..................................

17

    1. Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement.............

19

    1. Tigray People’s Democratic Movement..................

21

    1. Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy.......

22

  1.    Acts obstructing implementation of resolution 1862 (2009)..

25

    1. Recent activity in Ras Doumeira........................

25

    1. Djiboutian combatants missing in action since the clashes of 10 to 12 June 2008 

27

  1.    Revenue from the mining sector............................

28

    1. Eritrean mining sector..................................

29

    1. Payments to the Government...........................

29

  1.    Recommendations........................................

30

Annexes*..........................................................

32

           I.   Introduction

          A.   Mandate

1.   The mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, as set out in paragraph 13 of Security Council resolution 2060 (2012) and updated in paragraph 41 of resolution 2093 (2013), was renewed in paragraph 38 of resolution 2317 (2016).

2.   Pursuant to paragraph 40 of resolution 2317 (2016) and paragraph 13 (l) of resolution 2060 (2012), the Monitoring Group provided the Security Council, through the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea, with a midterm update on 21 April 2017. The Group also submitted monthly progress reports to the Committee throughout its mandate.

3.   With specific reference to Eritrea, the mandate of the Monitoring Group includes the following:

      (a)  To investigate, in coordination with relevant international agencies, all activities, including in the financial, maritime and other sectors, which generate revenues used to commit violations of the Somalia and Eritrea arms embargoes (resolution 2060 (2012), para. 13 (e));

      (b) To investigate any means of transport, routes, seaports, airports and other facilities used in connection with violations of the Somalia and Eritrea arms embargoes (ibid., para. 13 (f));

      (c)  To monitor the implementation of the Council’s call upon Eritrea to show transparency in its public finances, including through cooperation with the Monitoring Group, in order to demonstrate that the proceeds of mining activities are not being used to violate relevant resolutions (resolution 2023 (2011), paras. 12 and 16);

      (d) To monitor the implementation of the Council’s demand that all Member States, in particular Eritrea, cease arming, training and equipping armed groups and their members, including Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujaahidiin (Al-Shabaab), that aim to destabilize the region or incite violence and civil strife in Djibouti (resolution 1907 (2009), paras. 16 and 19).

4.   The mandate of the Monitoring Group is also derived from the listing criteria established in paragraph 15 of resolution 1907 (2009). This includes monitoring and reporting regarding individuals and entities: (a) violating the arms embargo; (b) providing support from Eritrea to armed opposition groups that aim to destabilize the region; (c) obstructing implementation of resolution 1862 (2009) concerning Djibouti; (d) harbouring, financing, facilitating, supporting, organizing, training, or inciting individuals or groups to perpetrate acts of violence or terrorist acts against other States or their citizens in the region; and (e) obstructing the investigations or work of the Group.

5.   Another component of the mandate concerns monitoring compliance with the travel ban and asset freeze established under paragraphs 10 and 13 of resolution 1907 (2009). However, there are no individuals or entities on the sanctions list established and maintained pursuant to Security Council resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009).[1]

6.   In the course of the investigations, members of the Monitoring Group travelled to Bahrain, Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, France, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kuwait, Qatar, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.

7.   The Monitoring Group was based in Nairobi and comprised the following experts: James Smith (coordinator), Jay Bahadur (armed groups), Charles Cater (natural resources), Deirdre Clancy (humanitarian), Tapani Holopainen (finance), Nazanine Moshiri (arms) and Richard Zabot (arms).

          B.   Methodology

8.   The evidentiary standards and verification processes outlined in the previous reports of the Monitoring Group apply to the work conducted during the mandate under review.

9.   The methodology used for the present report is as follows:

      (a)  Collecting information on events and topics from multiple sources, where possible;

      (b) Collecting information from sources with first-hand knowledge of events, where possible;

      (c)  Identifying consistency in patterns of information and comparing existing knowledge with new information and emerging trends;

      (d) Continuously factoring in the expertise and judgment of the relevant expert of the Monitoring Group and the collective assessment of the Group with regard to the credibility of information and the reliability of sources;

      (e)  Obtaining physical, photographic, audio, video and/or documentary evidence in support of the information collected;

      (f)  Analysing satellite imagery, where applicable.

10. In its investigations, the Monitoring Group conducted more than 120 meetings with a broad range of sources, including Member States, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, the Eritrean diaspora, academics, journalists, the private sector, former members of armed groups and former officials of the Government of Eritrea. From these sources, the Group received witness testimony, photographic evidence and both confidential and open-source documentation.

11. The persistent refusal of Eritrea to allow the Monitoring Group to enter the country continues to impede the Group’s investigations.

12. Once again, and in conformity with past guidance provided by the Committee, the Monitoring Group endeavoured to include as much of the testimony and evidence as possible in its final report. However, General Assembly resolutions on the control and limitation of documentation, in particular resolutions 52/214, 53/208 and 59/265, necessitated the use of annexes, preventing some of the evidence from being translated. In addition, regulations exclude the insertion of maps, photographs and charts in the main report, and therefore these are also presented in the annexes.

13.       In accordance with the Secretary-General’s bulletin on information sensitivity, classification and handling (ST/SGB/2007/6), the Monitoring Group has submitted to the Committee, together with the present report, several strictly confidential annexes containing information whose disclosure may be detrimental to the proper functioning of the United Nations or to the welfare and safety of its staff or third parties or may violate the Organization’s legal obligations. Those annexes will not be issued as a document of the Security Council.

         II.   Arms embargo

          A.   Flow of military equipment to or through Eritrea

 

                 Interdiction of shipment of blank-firing pistols in Kismayo, Somalia

 

14. On 23 January 2017, the Interim Jubba Administration and the African Union Mission in Somalia seized approximately 25,000 blank-firing pistols on board the vessel SJ African (International Maritime Organization (IMO) No. 8014954), which was docked in Kismayo Port in southern Somalia. On 14 February, the Monitoring Group inspected the container in Kismayo, analysed the consignment and interviewed the vessel’s crew. Email correspondence, port receipts and other documentation reviewed by the Group showed that the SJ African had docked at the port of Massawa, Eritrea, from 4 to 7 January 2016, with the consignment of blank-firing pistols on board (see annex 1). Red Sea Trading Corporation, an Eritrean State-owned import-export company based in Asmara was identified as the final consignee of the container.[2]

15. Given the ease with which blank-firing pistols can be converted to fire live ammunition (see annex 1.1, strictly confidential), the Monitoring Group considers the consignment to fall within the parameters of prohibited military materiel.[3] The consignment entered and remained docked in Eritrean territorial waters, with the consignee as Red Sea Trading Corporation in Asmara, thereby constituting a violation of the arms embargo on Eritrea.

16. Voltran Av Silahlari İns San. ve Tic. Ltd Sti., a company based in Turkey, confirmed that it had manufactured and sold the blank-firing pistols (see annex 1).[4]

17. The Monitoring Group interviewed the owner of the consignment, a Sudanese national, who informed the Group that his legal name is Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, even though it appears as “Ahmet Hassan” on the packing list.[5] Ahmed claimed that although the consignment had arrived at Massawa, it was intended to be transported by land to the Sudan for onward sale to retailers. According to Ahmed, he chose to offload the consignment at Massawa Port to avoid the greater expense and more complex import procedures of Port Sudan.[6] The Group has been unable to corroborate that the intended destination of the blank-firing pistols was the Sudan.[7] Both the owners of the company Voltran and the consignee have suggested that the Sudan represents a large market for dealers of blank-firing weapons.[8] The Group has confirmed the existence of multiple blank-firing weapons dealerships in Khartoum and elsewhere in the Sudan.[9] However, the Government of the Sudan imposes restrictions on the number of blank-firing weapons that can be imported into the country and strict licensing laws on importers, which may explain the intended use of Massawa Port as a transit point for the consignment.[10]

 

                 Interdiction of military radios from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

 

18. In late 2016, the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1874 (2009), which supports the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006), informed the Monitoring Group of its investigation into a shipment of military encrypted radios originating from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and destined for an Asmara-based company, Eritech Computer Assembly & Communication Technology PLC (see annex 2).

19. The consignment consisted of 45 boxes of military-grade communications equipment, including high-frequency radios, crypto-speaker microphones and global positioning satellite (GPS) and high-frequency antennas and cables. Several boxes and articles bore the label of a Malaysia-based manufacturer, Global Communications Co. (Glocom), and matched items advertised by Glocom on its now defunct website.[11] According to the Panel of Experts, Glocom is a front company for Pan Systems Pyongyang, a company based in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

20. The Panel of Experts concluded that, given the involvement of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the manufacture and shipment of the equipment, the consignment constituted a violation of the arms embargo established pursuant to paragraph 9 of resolution 1874 (2009) (see S/2017/150, paras. 72–87). Considering that the shipment consisted of military equipment bound for Eritrea, the Monitoring Group determines that it further constitutes a violation of the arms embargo on Eritrea established pursuant to paragraph 5 of resolution 1907 (2009). The arms embargoes on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Eritrea are both two-way, covering imports and exports.

21. According to reports received by the Monitoring Group, Eritech Computer Assembly & Communication Technology is based at the Asha Golgol Military Technical Centre, situated approximately 10 km south-west of Asmara International Airport. In its report for 2013, the Group identified a facility at Asha Golgol “operated by the Eritrean Defence Forces that serves as a central workshop for the production, modification and repair of civilian and military and paramilitary equipment” (S/2013/440, para. 82). A compound within the Asha Golgol facility referred to as “E-tech” is identified in annex 2 of that report.

          B.   Flow of military equipment from Eritrea ​​​​​​​

 

                 Allegations of shipments of weapons to Al-Shabaab in Somalia

 

22. On 8 November 2016, shortly after the submission of the Monitoring Group’s final reports for 2016 on Somalia and Eritrea (S/2016/919 and S/2016/920, respectively), a letter from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Djibouti (S/AC.29/2016/NOTE.70) was addressed to the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009). Attached to the letter was a report prepared by Djiboutian authorities stating that, on 15 October 2016, a maritime shipment of arms and ammunition, including AK-pattern rifles, mortars, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and PK machine guns, was sent from Eritrea to Somalia, destined for Al-Shabaab in Gal Hareri in the Galgadud region.[12]

23. On 9 November 2016, the Monitoring Group wrote to the Permanent Mission of Djibouti, requesting additional information on the alleged shipment, including details on the vessel, its port of departure and the individuals involved. On 8 December 2016, the Group received a response stating that Mohamed Osman Mohamed “Gafanje” was the owner of the vessel involved and that the shipment had been received by Farhan Kahiye on behalf of Aboubaker Mohamed Ali, the “Chief of Defence” for Al-Shabaab.[13]

24. Following a request by the Monitoring Group to discuss the shipment of weapons with Djiboutian authorities in person, the Group visited Djibouti from 20 to 23 February 2017. In a meeting with representatives of the Government of Djibouti on 21 February, the Group was informed that pertinent information relating to the shipment of weapons would be provided. The experts, however, left Djibouti having not received any further information from government interlocutors on the matter. On 4 April 2017, the Group conducted a follow-up mission to Djibouti. Despite further requests, the Group received no more information from the Government of Djibouti on the alleged shipment.

25. On 3 March 2017, during a mission to Addis Ababa, Ethiopian authorities provided the Monitoring Group with two reports, allegedly provided by a single source “within Al-Shabaab” and indicating that “Al-Shabaab is importing ammunitions by Volvo boats from Asmara to Hobyo in central regions of Somalia” and that “Al-Shabaab and Eritrea agreed to have representatives in their country to connect between the two parties to facilitate supports like providing military trainings to Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups like ONLF [Ogaden National Liberation Front]”.[14] The vessel carrying ammunition for AK-pattern rifles and PK machine guns is alleged to have docked at Hobyo on or around 15 December 2016. Mohamed “Gafanje” is described as facilitating the import of the ammunition for Al-Shabaab. The report further states that “Gafanje” had also facilitated the import of ammunition in November, which had been transported overland by three trucks from Harardhere in the Mudug region to Gal Hareri in the Galgadud region, on behalf of Farhan Kahiye.

26. On 31 March 2017, the Monitoring Group sent correspondence to the Interim Galmudug Administration in Somalia requesting further information on Mohamed Osman Mohamed “Gafanje”, Farhan Kahiye and Aboubaker Mohamed Ali. In response, on 11 April 2017, the Director General of the Galmudug Presidency, Mohamed Abdi Adam, claimed that regional intelligence and security officers had confirmed that Al-Shabaab had received a shipment of weapons with the help of “Gafanje” and that Farhan Kahiye was well known to them, although his last known whereabouts were in Barawe in the Lower Shabelle region.

27. On 15 June 2017, in Djibouti, the Monitoring Group was provided with a further report by Djiboutian authorities, claiming intelligence that two Eritrean officers, General Te’ame and Colonel Moussa,[15] had departed for Harardhere, Somalia, via Yemen, at the beginning of June and were due to return in July 2017.[16] According to the report, the two officers were greeted by three leaders of Al‑Shabaab and subsequently visited Al-Shabaab training camps in Hiran, the Lower Shabelle region and the Middle Shabelle region, and promised weapons to the armed group.

28. According to the same report, on 10 June 2017, the two officers also visited a training camp hosting 500 Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) fighters in the Hiran region. The Monitoring Group sent correspondence to the Federal Government of Somalia and to the Interim HirShabelle Administration, seeking confirmation of the presence of Eritrean officers in Somalia and the presence of ONLF or OLF training camps in Somalia. On 18 August 2017, the Group received a response from the Permanent Mission of Somalia to the United Nations claiming that the Federal Government was not aware of the presence of ONLF or OLF “fighters or camps in Somalia”.[17] At the time of writing, the Group had not received a response from the Interim HirShabelle Administration.

29. On 6 November 2016, the Government of Eritrea released a press statement via the website of the Ministry of Information (see www.shabait.com), in which it categorically denied sending arms to Somalia.[18] The Permanent Mission of Eritrea reiterated its denial of any engagement with Al-Shabaab and stated its support for the newly elected federal administration in Somalia during a videoconference with the Monitoring Group, held under the auspices of the Chair of the Committee on 11 September 2017.

30. Despite undertaking several investigative missions, engaging with authorities from regional Member States and engaging with sources in Somalia, during the current mandate the Monitoring Group has not been able to independently corroborate the information provided to it regarding shipments of weapons and ammunition from Eritrea to Al-Shabaab.

          C.   Support provided to the Eritrean armed forces

 

 

                 Zlín Avion pilot training and support in Asmara

 

31. On the basis of interviews with Eritrean defectors, supported by documentary and photographic evidence, the Monitoring Group has determined that Zlín Avion Service s.r.o., a company based in Otrokovice, Czechia, supplied aircraft parts and training to the Eritrean air force, in violation of the arms embargo on Eritrea. At the time of writing, the Eritrean air force possessed at least four Zlín model aircraft, which were used for training combat pilots.

32. The Monitoring Group has obtained photographs showing that two Zlín Avion employees, Blahomir Smetana, a flight instructor, and Jiri Neubauer, also known as “Mr. George”, a technician, were present in Asmara in May 2016. In one photograph, both individuals are shown posing with Major Isaias Berhane, commander of the Eritrean air force training squadron, and Yemane Abra, senior ground technician for the Eritrean air force (see annex 3, strictly confidential).

33. Certificates bearing the Zlín Avion logo and Smetana’s signature (see annex 3, strictly confidential) attest that the company provided training on the operation of Zlín-143 and Zlín-242 aircraft to members of the Eritrean air force. In addition, eyewitnesses reported to the Monitoring Group that rotating groups of up to six Zlín Avion personnel were present in Asmara in late 2015 and in 2016 to provide parts and servicing to Zlín-143 and Zlín-242 aircraft belonging to the Eritrean air force.

34. Eritrean defectors interviewed by the Monitoring Group also reported that another Czech national, Richard Ponížil, was present in Asmara in April 2016, working as a test pilot for Zlín Avion, even though the business card Ponížil presented in Asmara identifies him as employed by Linak C&S s.r.o., a company based in Majetín, Czechia (see annex 3, strictly confidential). When contacted by the Group, Ponížil advised the Monitoring Group to address all inquiries on the matter directly to Zlín Avion.[19]

35. On 21 February 2017, in response to the official correspondence sent by the Monitoring Group, a representative of Zlín Avion denied that the company had ever entered into any contractual agreement with the Government of Eritrea or that its personnel had ever been present in the country.

 

       [1] Available from www.un.org/sc/suborg/en/sanctions/751/materials.

       [2] In its previous reports, the Monitoring Group has identified the Red Sea Trading Corporation as a company owned by the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice and operating as the primary procurement vehicle for the Government. The Group also documented the role of the company in trafficking weapons from the eastern part of the Sudan to Eritrea. See S/2015/802, paras. 39–40; S/2014/727, paras. 31–33; and S/2011/433, paras. 378 and 414.

       [3] Meeting with Matt Lewis, Director of Arquebus Solutions Ltd, Coventry, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 16 May 2016. There are several other circumstances in which blank-firing pistols have been seized by authorities in Somalia and other countries subject to United Nations arms embargoes (see annex 1).

       [4] Meeting with the owners of Voltran Av Silahlari İns San. ve Tic. Ltd Sti. in Istanbul, Turkey,
22 June 2017.

       [5] Telephone interview with Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, 22 June 2017. The owners of Voltran showed the Monitoring Group the passport details of Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed and noted the discrepancy in names, which may have been due to a clerical error.

       [6] Telephone interview with Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, 22 June 2017. Red Sea Trading Corporation appears on the cargo manifest, it was alleged, as it represents the unique operator to deal with unloading operations in Massawa. Ahmed also explained that the consignment was not offloaded because he was unable to be present in Massawa from 4 to 7 January 2016.

       [7] The Monitoring Group cannot rule out that the consignment was intended to be distributed in Eritrea or Somalia, even though the Group has found no evidence of an established market for blank-firing pistols in either country.

       [8] Meeting with the owners of Voltran in Istanbul, 22 June 2017. Telephone interview with Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, 22 June 2017. Also confirmed in a telephone interview with blank-firing arms trader in Khartoum, 30 June 2017.

       [9] The wholesale purchase price of each blank-firing pistol is $9. According to an arms trader in Khartoum, they can be sold locally for $130-$150, or $200 if they have been converted to fire live ammunition. The same trader told the Monitoring Group that he sells approximately 1,500 blank-firing arms every year. Telephone interviews, 30 June and 11 September 2017.

      [10] According to a blank-firing arms trader from Khartoum, without a licence to import blank-firing pistols into the Sudan, the container would have to be transported illegally across the land border between Eritrea and the Sudan.

      [11] The Glocom website was shut down shortly after the Panel of Experts sent inquiries to Glocom towards the end of 2016. Glocom has subsequently launched a new website, available from https://glocom-corp.com (accessed 24 September 2017).

      [12] Report on file with the Secretariat.

      [13] The criminal activities of Mohamed Osman Mohamed “Gafanje”, a former pirate kingpin, have been detailed by the Monitoring Group in its previous reports (S/2013/413, S/2014/726 and S/2015/801). In its report for 2016 on Somalia (S/2016/919, annex 1.4), the Group reported claims made by multiple sources that “Gafanje” had been responsible for arranging dhow transport on behalf of Al-Shabaab, though it had been unable to substantiate the claims. The Group is not familiar with either Farhan Kahiye or Aboubaker Mohamed Ali.

      [14] Reports on file with the Secretariat.

      [15] The Monitoring Group has reported previously on the activities of Brigadier General Te’ame Goitom Kinfu (also known as Wedi Meqelle) in relation to support for armed groups in, and violations of the arms embargo on, Somalia (S/2008/769, para. 116; and S/2010/91, para. 60). He has been referred to as the chief of Eritrean external intelligence operations in the Horn of Africa (S/2011/433, para. 262 (a)). The Group described Colonel Tewelde Habte Negash (also known as “Musa”, “Amanuel Kidane” and “Wedi Kidane”) as working closely with Te’ame Goitom Kinfu and being responsible for training of and support to Somali armed opposition groups (S/2011/433, para. 262 (c)). Colonel Negash “Mussa” was subsequently described as a regional intelligence officer (S/2014/727, para. 60).

      [16] Report on file with the Secretariat.

      [17] Letter dated 18 August 2017 from the Federal Government of Somalia to the Monitoring Group. On 28 August 2017, however, regional media sources announced that the Federal Government had handed a senior member of ONLF, Abidkarim Sheikh Muse “Qalbi Dagah”, over to Ethiopian authorities. See, for example, Arefayné Fantahun, “Top ONLF leader handed down to Ethiopia”, Ethiopia Observer, 28 August 2017. Available from www.ethiopiaobserver.com/2017/
08/top-onlf-leader-handed-down-to-ethiopia/.

      [18] Ministry of Information of Eritrea, “Accusations Against Eritrea: Pure Fabrication and Outright Lies”, press release, 6 November 2016. Available from www.shabait.com/editorial/press-release/
7483-press-statement.

      [19] Telephone conversation with Richard Ponížil, 7 April 2017.................

 

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Berhane Habtemariam
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