How Haggai Erlich promoted Isaias Afeworki:
He writes, “One of the most spectacular terrorist acts of the time was performed by a young school teacher, Isayas Afawarq (b. 1946), an important leader of the now defunct Tripartite Union. As a youngster, Isayas had been influenced by a Marxist-oriented economist from Asmara. Dr. Biasolo (not sure if he meant the late Wedi Vikaro) , a half caste businessman and a disillusioned ex-member of the UP (Unionist Party). On the 14th of April 1970, in a bar in downtown Asmara, Isayas machine-gunned two ex-judges who had sentenced some ELF guerrillas to death. (According to one version the murder was committed by Isayas’s associates). Isayas fled Asmara, and in the districts of Hamassein and seraye, together with some 8 young commanders (notably his associates Ibrahim Tewald and Irmiyas Debessau), he managed to organize a group of few hundred Christian warriors.
Throughout the 1970 and 1971, Isaias and his associates were active in the Eritrean highlands and around Keren , successfully fighting the Ethiopian army and terrorizing the population. In November 1970, a unit belonging to those forces, reportedly led by Irmayas Debessai, ambushed and killed the commander of the Ethiopian army in the province, an event that greatly helped the cause of the hard-liners in Addis Ababa.
And he writes again, “Then on 21 November, 1970 , Maj. Gen. Ergetu Tshome, the Commander of the armed forces in Eritrea, was assassinated by Isayas’s men, in a carefully executed ambush.
Haggai in his book details how Asrate Kassa, Governor then, had close relations to Israel and with their support he built in 1965, the ‘Commandos’, or ‘101’. By the end of 1965 it was a battalion-size unit comprising nine superbly trained companies. Its central base was Dekemhare, where the recruits mostly Christian Eritreans – were trained by the Israelis. It was also known as the ‘Governor’s private army.’ He writes, “Asrate Kassa, who saw Islam as the main enemy of Ethiopian nationalism, seems to have initiated the anti-Muslim campaign. He had long tried to orient Ethiopia’s regional policy on Israel, and Israeli advisors were almost permanent guests in his Asmara Palace. Israeli victory in the six days war contributed significantly in Asrate Kassa’s growing influence. Following his advice, the Emperor consented to a more flexible policy in troubled Eritrea. A general amnesty was proclaimed, Christian Tigreans considered loyal to the Government were armed, and Asrate Kassa met with religious functionaries to persuade them to encourage their followers to cooperate with the Government… By the end of 1967, some one hundred rebels, including an important Christian leader, had surrendered.” He states that that campaign of massacring the population and the burning of villages in coincided with return from the Adobha meeting of the fighters of the defunct Tripartite Union, the establishment of the PLF, and the beginning of the activities of the Isayas Afawarq’s men, who did their utmost to retaliate and even take the initiative.
P. 40 – 41
Source: The Struggle over Eritrea, 1962 – 1978 published 1983 by Haggai Erlich,