By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
Addis Ababa — An Ethiopian court last week handed down prison terms to three British citizens convicted on terrorism-related charges.
Sources at the ministry of justice told Sudan Tribune on Monday that the three Britons were conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks and to eventually overthrow the government in collaboration with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), an exiled Ethiopian rebel group designated by Addis Ababa as a terrorist entity.
According to the federal high court, the trio had links to local members of a jihadist group seeking to turn the Horn of Africa nation into an Islamic state.
The court sentenced Ali Adorus to four-and-half years in jail, while Mohammed Sharif and Mohamad Ahmed each received jail terms of six years and eight months.
Sharif and Ahmed are said to have been living in London before entering Ethiopia in 2011, while Adros is from the semi -utonomous region of Somaliland.
According to security officials, the three received military training in neighbouring Kenya, although they did not disclose what group provided the training.
The radical Al Shabab group has been waging jihad (war) against the predominantly Christian nation since Ethiopia first sent troops to Somalia in 2006.
Last year, Ethiopia officially joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a decision which angered the al-Qaeda linked militants.
Following the decision, Al Shabab leaders urged Somalians to stand up against the Ethiopians and defend their country.
The group regularly threatens to carry out attacks on Ethiopian soil in retaliation to its military intervention.
Ethiopia, a close US ally on the so-called war on terror, has previously foiled a number of attempted attacks by Al Shabab.
Opposition political parties in Ethiopia have repeatedly voiced their concern over the government’s decision to continue its military intervention in Somali, arguing that such a move could lead to a series of retaliatory attacks on the capital.
However, Ethiopian officials have downplayed concerns, saying the country’s defence force and intelligence capabilities are strong enough to defend the nation.
Ethiopia currently has over 4,000 troops deployed in war-torn Somalia as part of the African Union-backed mission.
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