A university lecturer, who was given asylum in the UK, allegedly flew out to an Ethiopian terrorist training camp and had a US sniper manual.
Tadesse Kersmo, 51, was arrested by counter terrorism officers at London. Heathrow Airport in
September last year on an inbound flight from Eritrea, via Cairo.
Snaresbrook Crown Court today heard the Ethiopian national collected
military-themed documents about guerrilla warfare tactics, including one called ‘Put ’em down Take ’em Out Knife Fighting’.
He is alleged to have been a prominent critic of his country’s government before he fled to the United Kingdom in 2009.
He was charged with seven counts of possessing articles
containing information likely to be useful to terrorists and one count of attending a training camp.
The alleged offences he faces relate to activity for an overseas Ethiopian political movement.
Prosecutor Barnaby Jameson said: ‘To his students there was nothing to suggest the defendant was anything more than
a peaceable academic with a passionate interest in the politics of Ethiopia.
‘Certainly, there was nothing to suggest a man involved in political violence or, to put it another way, a man involved in terrorism.
‘There was – as you will discover, more than one side to this lecturer in business and economics.’
Describing Kersmo to the jury, Mr Jameson said he was born on May 5, 1966, and lived in Ethiopia until 2009 when,
‘as a prominent critic of the Ethiopian government, he fled to the United Kingdom’.
The prosecutor continued: ‘Since then he has lived in this country, obtaining leave to remain as the husband of an asylum seeker.
‘Among other positions, he worked a job as a lecturer at Greenwich University.
‘As you will hear, he taught courses there on business research methods, economics, international business and professional development.’
Kersmo was allegedly discovered in possession of four military themed documents,
including a US Military sniper manual and a mini-manual on how to conduct urban guerrilla warfare.
He was caught with the material on two occasions, once on September 27, 2016, and again at Heathrow on January 4.
The lecturer was granted asylum in the UK in 2009 with his wife whom he was living with at the time of his arrest
The lecturer was granted asylum in the UK in 2009 with his wife whom he was living with at the time of his arrest.
One charge states Kersmo attended a location used for terrorist training and was photographed shaking hands with suspected terrorists.
He worked as a senior lecturer at Greenwich School of Management until 2017 and also taught at Greenwich University.
Kersmo appeared in the dock wearing a light blue suit, a white shirt and a
blue spotted tie for the first day of his trial, provisionally scheduled to last until 21 December.
Mr Jameson told the jury of six men and six women that Kersmo ‘did a fair amount of travelling’ and was tracked making flights from Heathrow to Eritrea.
The prosecutor said Kersmo made journeys to Eritrea between 5 December 2015 and 27 September 2016.
Mr Jameson said that Ethiopia and Eritrea were once a unified block and ‘following a war of independence Eritrea became autonomous in 1993’.
‘Tensions between the two countries remain high, the border has
witnessed continuing flare-ups of violence that continue to this day,’ he added.
‘You will have to consider why the defendant was choosing to visit a country that was a neighbour to Ethiopia but not a friend.
‘In due course you will see some photographs that make his agenda abundantly clear.’
The prosecutor said that Kersmo was stopped on September 27, 2016, by counter-terrorist
officers using their powers under Schedule 7 of the Terrorist Act 2000.
Mr Jameson said that one of the devices Kersmo was carrying was an external hard drive and
documents ‘of a nature outside economics and business studies’ were discovered.