Eritrea Extorts UK Refugees to Fund Somalia’s al-Shabaab Islamist Fighters
IBTimes UK reporter Gianluca Mezzofiore obtains documents showing Eritrean government collects illegal tax in violation of UN and Foreign Office
Eritreans living in the UK are being forced by their own government to pay a “diaspora tax” that ultimately funds the secretive country’s network of influence in the Horn of Africa, including supporting the al-Shabaab group of militants in Somalia, an IBTimes UK special investigation has uncovered.
The collection of a 2% income tax on Eritrean nationals living abroad violates UN resolution 2023 (2011) which condemns Eritrea’s use of the tax to “destabilise the Horn of Africa region and to violate the sanctions regime”. Some of the money is used to procure weapons for armed opposition groups.
The UN Security Council hardened sanctions against Eritrea in December 2011 over its alleged support for Islamist militant groups such as Somalia’s al-Shabaab.
Among the alleged member of the Somali Islamist group was Samantha Lewthwaite – dubbed the “white widow” – the 28-year-old wife of one of the London 7/7 bombers. Lewthwaite was allegedly part of a terror unit that planned to target the city of Mombasa, Kenya.
The sanctions included a block on a remittance tax imposed on nationals overseas. The Foreign Office in Whitehall had earlier sought to curb Eritrean diplomats who were collecting the tax in the UK after claiming that the money was used by the Eritrean government to destablise the region. Read more