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ICC Note: Ethiopia has been one of a few African nation who have been fighting with Islamic terrorism longer than most. The East African nation has been battling Al-shabaab and it’s predecessor al-Ittihad al-Islami since the 1990’s. In the decades since, Ethiopia has created a vast network of surveillance and military buffer zones to limit the terrorist groups ability to conduct operations within their borders. As a result of their efforts, many have questioned the legality of their actions as some are seen as violations of basic human rights. However, it is difficult to argue with results as Ethiopia has not experienced an attack by Al-Shabaab in over two years. Two years have gone by with no major targeting of Christians by the Islamic group as the surrounding nations have been victims of Al-Shabaab’s mission to eliminate Christians and other religious minorities. 

11/04/2015 Ethiopia (Yahoo News) – On April 2, as I waited in a doctor’s office near Nairobi, the anchor of Kenya’s morning news broadcast began reporting what would prove to be a horrific attack on Garissa University by the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab. As the early news trickled in, some people around me looked at the television screen, and others just checked their phones. Most, however, just stared impatiently at the doctor’s door.

In Kenya, another terror attack wasn’t shocking news. Indeed, the number of attacks in Kenya has more than doubled since 2013, and the assault on Garissa, which killed 148, was just the latest in a growing list of al-Shabab outside Somalia. In 2010, a suicide bombing in Uganda killed 74 people; last year, militants carried out the first suicide bombing in Djibouti’s history; and in April, Tanzanian authorities arrested 10 people carrying explosives, bomb detonators and an al-Shabab flag. Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, a country with a longer history of military involvement in Somalia and a much longer border with the country than Kenya, the number of al-Shabab attacks in recent years is … well, zero. The last attempted attack in the country happened two years ago and ended when two would-be suicide bombers blew themselves up in their safe house in the capital of Addis Ababa.

My big concern with Ethiopia is the way they are behaving … is actually going to push people into the arms of extremists.

Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director, Atlantic Council’s Africa Center

Ethiopia’s success at evading attacks might not seem so remarkable, except that even the most developed countries, including the United States, have generally floundered in their counterterrorism efforts. Yet the blueprint Ethiopia is following to thwart al-Shabab attacks — and ultimately to help stall the Islamic State’s inroads into Africa — has its own set of civil rights issues. Indeed, the country sparked its own form of an ends-justify-the-means debate, with critics saying it relies on security and intelligence gathering that is too heavy-handed.

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