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Ethiopia Arrests Members of Underground Islamic Jihad Group

Members of the Group Participated in Killing of Over

13 Christians and Displacement of Thousands

November 20, 2008 Ethiopia (International Christian Concern) – Ethiopian officials have arrested several members of a radical Islamic group known as Kawerj. The Islamists were arrested on November 6 in Addis Ababa , and are among those who planned and executed large-scale attacks on Christians in Ethiopia in 2006.

The arrests took place after Ethiopian authorities uncovered a plot to carry out bomb attacks in Ethiopia . The authorities did not provide any more details.

ICC has done its own investigation on Kawerj and found disturbing details on the goals of the group as well as the heinous crimes they have been committing against Christians in Ethiopia .

According to information obtained by ICC, Kawerj is active in Addis Ababa as well as Oromiya state, the largest state in Ethiopia . Its leaders are Ethiopians who lived in Somalia for a long period of time where they received training. They have a wide network of supporters who send them money from a number of Muslim countries. The money is used for the construction of mosques throughout Ethiopia .

Waging Jihad against Christians

Most of members of the group are youth who are bent on destroying Christians. In 2006, members of this group helped coordinate large scale and widespread attacks against Christians in the Illubabor, Jimma and West Wellega zones of Oromiya state. The attacks resulted in the death of 13 Christians, the destruction of 40 churches and dozens of homes and properties belonging to Christians, and the displacement of thousands of Christians from their homes.

As part of their agenda to intensify attacks against Christians, members of the group are participating in training in mosques and other Muslim facilities.

Establishing an Islamic State

Followers of Kawerj want to establish an Islamic state in Ethiopia by using force. They teach their followers not to recognize the institutions of the government and not to pay taxes. They also oppose education for girls.

Members of this radical group do not associate with Christians and do not even greet them. Christians who live in areas where the influence of Kawerj is prevalent are socially ostracized and daily threatened to convert to Islam or leave the area. Meanwhile, Muslim local officials encourage attacks on Christians by turning a blind eye to Kawerj’s activities.

ICC’s Regional Manger for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said, “Members of this radical Islamic group pose a great danger to Ethiopia as well as to the international community. Ethiopian authorities should continue to clamp down on the members of this group before they strike again. The officials of Ethiopia have an obligation both under the country’s constitution and the international human rights instruments to protect their citizens against attacks by this dangerous group.

Please call Ethiopian embassies in your countries and politely ask the Ethiopian officials to protect Christians from harassment, discrimination and other forms of persecution they are facing from members of radical Muslim groups such as Kawerj.

Ethiopian Embassies:






(202) 364-1200

[email protected]


+44(0)20 7589 7212

+44(0)20 7584 7054

[email protected]




[email protected]




[email protected]