ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Federal High Court has sentenced 23 individuals for up to 15 years in prison for plotting terror attacks after making contact with al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab.
The convicts had planned to establish a so-called theocracy in addition to robberies and killings, reported government-affiliated FANA broadcasting, quoting the court ruling.
The court, according to FANA, late Wednesday said the defendants had been active between 2010 and 2014 in the capital Addis Ababa as well as in Weliso, Welkite, Jimma, Dese, Kemise, and various other parts of the country to carry out their criminal objectives.
The convicts are also said to have been engaged in recruiting individuals and sending them to neighboring Somalia for training. Al-Shabab, which has links to al-Qaeda, is based in Somalia.
This is not the first time an Ethiopian court has sentenced individuals for al-Qaeda or al-Shabaab links.
This January, 20 people were jailed on terrorism charges by the 19th Bench of the Ethiopian High court, with sentences of up to five-and-a-half years.
The East African country has always see the militant group in neighboring Somalia as an immediate threat to its security.
In 2014, two al-Shabaab operatives blew themselves up while putting on their explosive vests. They had planned to detonate at the Addis Ababa Stadium during a 2014 match between Ethiopia and Nigeria.