Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement

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Submitted By tcaneca
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II. The Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement (EJIM)
Eritrean separatism began in earnest during World War II, as Eritrea passed from Italian to British rule in 1941 and remained under British administration until 1950. Arab states pushed for independence given the large Muslim population and ties to the Arab world from that community. The initial constitution in 1952 was ratified by Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, but Eritrea and Ethiopia were linked through a federal system, under the sovereignty of the emperor. Eritreans resisted Ethiopian rule and began armed struggle for their independence in 1958. The Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement (EIJM) began activity in 1975 when a group of Islamist-minded guerillas split off from the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) that had been fighting since the beginning of the Eritrean independence movement. The EIJM was formally established in 1980. Since independence in 1993, the EIJM (and its factions) have been the principal Muslim opposition group in Eritrea, seeking the violent overthrow of the ELF government led by President Isaias Afewerki. EIJM claims to only target the Eritrean government and its apparatus in the country, not Western targets, and seeks the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Eritrea. The group is based in Sudan and is made up primarily of dissidents from the ELF, conservative Eritrean (and some other Muslims from Horn of Africa countries), and a Muslim youth network. The group is also known by a variety of other names—the Eritrean Islamic Reform Movement, the Abu Suhail organization, the Eritrean Islamic Salvation Movement, and the Eritrean Islamic Party for Justice and Development—but many of these appear to be break-away groups that operate with some degree of autonomy. This is reflective of the climate for political and militant Islamic organizations in the Horn of Africa. Like other neighboring…...

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