The President of Eritrea blasted the Somali radical group al-Shabaab for threatening to send fighters to the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Speaking to Al-Jazeera Arabic TV today, Isaias Afewerki said he found the group's threats unacceptable.
"That a Somali organization declares its support for a power in Yemen is inexcusable," he said. "This is a Yemeni issue, and [Yemen] should be allowed to handle it."
President Afewerki's unusually scathing remarks against the Somali militant group comes less than a month after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Eritrea, for allegedly arming Islamist groups in Somalia.
Following the botched Christmas Day attempt to blow-up a Detroit-bound jetliner by a Nigerian man who was trained and equipped by AQAP, a top official with al-Shabaab, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu-Mansoor, vowed that his group will send fighters to "help our brethren in Yemen."
President Afewerki said it's reprehensible that al-Shabaab wants "to destabilize and compromise the security of Yemen."
Few months ago, al-Shabaab threatened to invade Asmara, among other Horn of Africa states. President Afewerki's remarks would be the first public criticism against al-Shabaab.
Asmara is widely thought to have close links to Hizbul-Islam, the other militant group headed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who's on the US and UN terrorism list. Many of his organization's top leaders continue to operate out of Asmara.