Taliban-led Eritrean Solidarity Front declares religious armed resistance against the secular State of Eritrea. (sourece link )

Sheik Abu Sihelmeskerem 08/22/2009:  Eritrean Solidarity Front, the new Islamic alliance led by a Taliban, declared armed resistance against the secular State of Eritrea via its military communiqué dated 08/15/2009. (read in Tigrinya) The Eritrean-Taliban led front that was created in May 2009 issued its first military communiqué from Sudan. In the communiqué, it stated that it killed 9 and wounded 15 members of the Eritrean Defense Forces last week in the vicinity of Gash-Barka.

The front is a religious alliance made up of 4 Eritrean opposition organizations that include three Jihadist organizations and "ELF", a former secular organization that abandoned its secular political program to join the religious alliance. The Solidarity Front is led by Sheik Abu Sihel, a former Taliban. (picture) Sheik Abu Sihel was elected to lead the front; a path that could take him to the chairmanship of the Ethiopia based and supported Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA).*

The Eritrean-Taliban led front declared to the world, in so many words, that it was going to wage a religious war to overthrow what it calls the Christian Highlander regime in Asmara and install a Sharia governed Islamic State of Eritrea. The front considers the regime in Asmara a Christian regime made up of Christian Eritrean highlanders that has to be destroyed through religious war.

The leader of the Front, Sheik Abu Sihel, left the ELF in 1975 and later joined the Taliban' in Afghanistan during the Afghan Jihad war against the Soviets. At that time, Eritreans were fighting for the liberation of Eritrea. Some old veterans of ELF say that Sheik Abu Sihel left ELF because of the heavy influx of Christians to the ELF in 1975.

Upon his return, he formed a Jihad movement and he has been carrying jihad war against the regime in Asmara ever since. ( watch related video

Sheik Abu Sihel is the same person who was accused to have had a close relationship with Bin Ladin when Bin Ladin was in Khartoum, Sudan .The present military wing of this front is believed to have three to four Taliban mujahedeen commanders who fought in the Jihad of the Taliban in the Afghan war against the Soviets.

A small minority in the Eritrean opposition rejects the accusation of the religious and ethnic organizations in the EDA that the Eritrean regime represents any religious or ethnic group. On the contrary, this small minority asserts that the regime targets Christians for persecution and suppression.  The number of political detainees, the number of youth fleeing the nation and the extensive development projects and social services provided in the lowland areas is cited as evidence.

The Front is now being accused of using religion to galvanize support as the opposition in general and the religion-based organizations in particular are experiencing unprecedented loss of sympathy from the Eritrean public. The public can not be blamed seeing what is going on in the  Eritrean opposition camp. Throwing out a secular, albeit, harsh regime to be replaced by a Taliban-led ethno/religious regime....not a good option.

A senior member of the Eritrean opposition told meskerem that the US State Department and the Homeland Security are aware of Abu Sihel's background and his Jihadist organization. The same official was asked whether the present attacks against the Eritrean Christian highlanders posted at awate.com and other Arabic language websites have anything to do with the declaration of the Solidarity Front's religious military campaign and the ambition of gaining the chairmanship of the EDA through intimidation. The official declined to comment and pleaded not to be quoted by name citing fear of attacks on his person and his organization by the cyber "thugs".

Lately, individuals claiming association with the Solidarity Front and posting incendiary articles at awate.com have been attacking Eritrean Christian highlanders as land grabbers, collaborators, and neo-Nazis. These cyber thugs have sworn that once their group takes over the country they will deport Eritrean Christian Highlanders who dared to settle and made their home in the "lowlands' of Eritrea.

The same self-declared cadres of the Solidarity Front have been spewing so much hate that they are now been referred to as "Radio Rwandas". They have only succeeded, however, in scaring the pants off few gullible elites'; elites who have been naive and who have been duped into becoming enablers. But..

For many Eritrean Liberation Army veterans and victims of such political intimidations, harassment and persecution by the same old perpetrators , it is Déjà vu. "They are back at it again and we are waiting for them."  Priorities will and have changed. It is now a matter of defending the unity of the Eritrean people and defending the honorable history of one's own people.

* The four political parties and organizations that make up the Eritrean Solidarity Front are members of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance. The Eritrean Democratic Alliance is an Eritrean opposition umbrella organization based and supported by Ethiopia. 

Related information: http://www.usip.org/files/resources/sr113.pdf: