Secrets Of Ethiopia
Based on a True Story
As the wind whispers on the Ethiopian central highlands near the capital, Addis Ababa, strange rumors have been going around among a number of people who were former members of the Ethiopian intelligence community. Unlike any other time before, the frequency of their meetings at undisclosed locations through out Ethiopia has increased dramatically due to the subject matter of their recent discussion. Even though many are currently retired from the nitty-gritty intelligence work, they are well connected with active members of high ranking officials within the intelligence services that are linked to the Ethiopian military. Ethiopia is known for having one of the best spying agencies in Africa and the Middle East.
Typically their weekly or monthly gatherings would be filled with jokes and laughter as stories from the old times were shared at the coffee table either at their homes in Addis Ababa or other cities in Ethiopia. However, for five months in a row, many of these people have unusually displayed a certain passion and intrigue about something unique and spectacular. It was even more interesting that most of them showed a serious stress, they took a long and deep breath before they presented their point of view and others talked by whispering to each other as if they were at a large public meeting within an auditorium.
All of the sudden, sons, daughters, wives or other relatives of these former spies were being told to leave their homes for a couple of hours before the former colleagues began sharing their new topic with each other. After mid night hours, the same people were able to resume where they left-off during the day by using their satellite phones and other communication devices located at the most unlikely places on the mountains and alleys of Ethiopia. A change in their attitude was evident as they became more and more edgy and sometimes impatient. A few members smoked one cigarette after the other resulting in a build up of small pyramids from the cigarette butts and ashes. The new topic appears to have taken control over their hearts and minds and each day they looked more obsessed about it than the day before.
During their most recent meeting, the former Ethiopian spies often looked around before they said a word while pointing at a certain scroll of documents that appeared to be very old. Surprisingly, most of the documents were written in ancient Aramaic, Gee’ z and old Hebrew. Two members of this super secret group translated what was written on the scrolls into modern Amharic as the participants passionately listened and took notes. When the time arrives for another round of discussion, some of the participants appeared shocked and they were reluctant to say anything further. Both Amharic and Gee’ z are southern branches of Semitic languages that originated from Aramaic itself. As the two colleagues continued translating the scroll documents, some of the listeners would sometimes pick up the meaning a head of time and interrupt the translators with their points of view and inquiries. The translators would simply add further explanations and quietly move on to translating the next scroll of the recently discovered ancient documents.
During the era of Ethiopia’ s last famous emperor, Haile-Selassie, many of the young Ethiopian intelligence recruits were educated in Western Europe, Israel and the Far East and they often fluently spoke at least two other non-Ethiopian languages before they were assigned to their field work. Their education usually included academic disciplines such as engineering, medicine and international affairs which were used to disguise their background. Similar recruiting methods were used by the communist Derg regime with the only exception that the recruits were primarily educated in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’ s, many of Ethiopia’ s former spies have fled to other countries to start a new life. Their exit strategy itself, however, was not known by many of family members until after their departure from Ethiopia. As the communist Derg regime continued to fall apart and the Ethiopian rebels began approaching the capital city, many of these former spies were quietly selling substantial quantities of enriched uranium and highly expensive weapon systems to any buyer who agreed to meet their financial demands in a timely manner. Ethiopian cities such as Bahirdar, Gonder, Nazret & Harar were used to complete each transaction that went as high as 200 million U.S. dollars during a time when many Ethiopians were gripped with intense fear as to the future of their country.
However, a mysterious group from the Ethiopian Special Intelligence Services (SIS) has chosen to remain in Ethiopia and it has formed a network of subsidiary business groups through out the country. Many SIS members have built a considerable wealth through construction, importing and exporting goods as well as a clandestine antique trade. The SIS has never lost a single member of its group during the volatile political turmoil in Ethiopian history. Many SIS members are known to have a strong allegiance to the Ethiopian nation due to their unique work on one of the best kept secrets of the 20th Century.
Unlike the other Ethiopian intelligence groups, the SIS was not originally created by the Ethiopian military but by a secret sect Ethiopian priests known as “ Kara” over a thousand years ago and it was later incorporated into the Ethiopian military intelligence after WWII at the request of two priests and Emperor Haile Selassie himself. One of these core groups was led by a sixty two year old tall and charismatic man named Fisseha Abeselom who was also known simply by his nickname as “ Kassa.”
In the summer of the year 1997, the sun appeared to have decided on shining much harder on Ethiopia as the scorching hot weather visibly melted the edges of the asphalts, winding streets and highways through out the country. Many people choose to stay inside their homes and work places for most of the afternoon until the shining star changed its mind during the evening hours. Kassa was also affected by the unusually hot climate but, he continued to work hard during the summer months to bring another year of success for the joint venture with his former colleagues. However, with the recent discussion fresh in his mind, he made important phone calls on a Tuesday afternoon and setup arrangements for an “ urgent business meeting” to discuss the progress of many construction projects that were near completion in the cities of Gonder, Debre-zeyt & Mekele.
However, Kassa did not schedule the meeting to take place in one of the many luxurious buildings his business group, Blue Nile Enterprise, Inc., owned in Addis Ababa. Instead, the meeting was arranged to take place at a fifth century Ethiopian Orthodox Church that was built near a complex of mountains and caves in a dusty small town 25 kilometers north west of the city of Gonder in northern Ethiopia. The attendees were instructed to show up during the evening prayer hours dressed up in the traditional white shawls. A few others were specifically told to customize their appearance as local farmers walking barefoot with old and torn closing giving others the impression that they were simply poor local citizens. Attendees were instructed to park their cars in the City of Gonder and take the local transportation systems such as buses, horses and mules to arrive at the meeting location.
The last time a similar meeting took place at this location was during the 1974 military coup which brought down the Haile Selassie regime from power. Almost thirty years ago, the then SIS chief , Samuel Woldegebriel, made an urgent call from a hotel to eleven SIS council members to safe guard important information the group was assigned to protect from others at the time when the emperor’ s fate was unknown at the hand of the military junta. As a King of Ethiopia, Emperor Haile Selassie knew a great deal of the SIS mission and work and he personally funded the group with his own money besides the unusually high amount of fund SIS got from the state in comparison with other military intelligence groups in Ethiopia. At the time of the military coup, SIS believed that the 84 year old Emperor could reveal important secrets to others under pressure from junior military officers that managed to coup and SIS had to take preemptive measures to protect important information.
The urgent phone call from Kassa this time did not surprise the members of the SIS council as they have already been discussing the subject matter almost every day for the past few months. However, many have realized that it would be a historic moment for all of them to be part of this critical meeting. Above all, the Ethiopian spies knew that the results of their meeting could bring dramatic changes not only for Ethiopia but also for the rest of the world.
Kassa is a devoted father of four young men. His oldest son, Teklu, is very close to his father and he regularly accompanied him to work each day. His other three sons, David, Yonas & Kirubel joined the Ethiopian Air Force (EAF) after graduating from Addis Ababa University in applied mathematics, physics and mechanical engineering respectively. Kassa was trained as a biblical archeologist at Oxford University and he worked for two years at the prestigious British Museum during his graduate studies in England. As a father, he was very proud of his children’ s accomplishments as all of them later went to graduate from schools in Russia and East Germany for further studies and came back to their country.
Teklu, however, unexpectedly dropped out of his college studies only after one semester due to a mysterious illness and he has been working with his father ever since. Kassa has always felt that his oldest son needed more support than his other children and gave him a full time job at his downtown office as his trusted personal assistant. For the first time in his life, Teklu will be making important decisions while his father attends his secret meeting with the SIS council in northern Ethiopia. It was an exciting time for Teklu as he also anticipates driving a couple of his father’ s cars by himself while his father is away for a few days.
Teklu has known for quite sometime the secret work his father performed for over 40 years at the SIS because his father told him when he got older. Teklu especially enjoys hearing some of the heroic and funny spy stories from his father. Kassa also loves sharing some of his work experience with his children because he believes it will help them become smarter at the end.
One of Teklu’ s favorite stories is when Kassa was sent on a clandestine mission to Sudan in the 1980’ s to retrieve important information from a former high ranking Ethiopian military general who fled to that country. After four months of training at the Ethiopian military intelligence facilities, Kassa was sent to Khartoum, Sudan as a refugee to meet with an Ethiopian general who closely worked with SIS for a number of years. The general fled to Sudan after a bad working relationship with the then Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Hailemariam however, the information he held was very important to warrant a visit by an SIS officer. In the early 1980s, Sudan and Ethiopia came close to going to war with each other due to internal and external political problems. Jaffar El Numerri, the Sudanese president at the time, saw Ethiopia as a threat to his country and in return supported Eritrean rebel groups inside Ethiopia. On the other hand, Ethiopia heavily supported the SPLA (Sudanese People Liberation Army) which fought for the independence for the Christian southern Sudanese people. SPLA was led by John Garang who also had a beautiful ranch style home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a few blocks east of Kassa’ s house. Due to this political and military conflict between the two neighbors, Kassa’ s mission to the Sudan was seen as a dangerous one but it had to be completed.
Kassa was trained by experienced Ethiopian military intelligence officers concerning the Sudanese Islamic religious traditions and culture in order to complete his mission. Kassa’ s name was changed to Abdul-Aziz Surur by his trainers and they were impressed by his mastery of the Arabic language. Kassa not only spoke fluently in Arabic but also wrote excellent poems in that language. After he finished his graduate studies at Oxford, Kassa worked for nine years as an archeologist in Egypt where he mastered the Arabic language.
After a long and exhausting journey that began in Metema-Ethiopia, Kassa arrived at his destination in the Sudan a week later where he found a Sudanese Muslim who was willing to have him at his house as an “ Ethiopian Muslim” guest. While searching for the Ethiopian decedent general in Khartoum, Kassa quickly made many friends in the neighborhood and enjoyed having the afternoon tea party.
However, one day in a hot and sunny afternoon, Kassa was at his guest house having a Muslim prayer when he slowly got board and started reading old Arabic news papers that were plastered on the wall all over the house. The owner of the house noticed that Kassa or “ Abdul-Aziz Surur” was not praying hard and shouted in Arabic “ stop reading the news papers and pray” and Kassa jerked in reaction and almost crossed himself in his Ethiopian Orthodox Christian tradition. His fluency in Arabic eventually saves him from a total disaster as he was able to comb the owner of the house and finally managed to actually lead the prayer himself. Later, the owner of the house told Kassa that it was one of the best prayers he had in a long time.
Kassa was able to complete his mission after retrieving the necessary information from the Ethiopian general and return to Ethiopia without a single incident. Since then, he never crossed himself even at a regular Ethiopian Orthodox church gathering as he saw it as an unnecessary habit after his experience in the Sudan. He told his children to cross themselves in their heart without physically using their hands and Teklu seems to especially appreciate it and follow on his father’ s footsteps. This and many other stories from Kassa have made Teklu appreciate his father even more and he typically looks forward to other new stories during lunch or after dinner in their home.
By the standard of the Ethiopian culture, a person’ s trustworthiness is measured by his or her ability to keep secrets under any circumstances. Many Ethiopians respect and admire this tradition through out the country. Anyone who betrays his family and people will not be forgiven in this society even if the individual had a legitimate reason for the ultimate revelation of the secret. Ethiopia is a very ancient country with old traditions dating back thousands of years.
The Ethiopian Special Intelligence Services (SIS) historians trace the root of the organization all the way back to the time of King Solomon. Even though its work does not directly deal with Ethiopian military intelligence matters, SIS was given an important task of facilitating the protection of an ancient relic from any internal and external threats. The relic is known by the three major world religions as the Holy Ark of the Covenant. This same relic is known in Amharic and Geez as “ Tabot” or “ Silat.” SIS experts work very closely with a sect of priests who are guardians of this holy relic. Many of the officers themselves come from a long line of priests in their family but they have an extensive knowledge in science and other fields from some of the well known academic institution in the world.
The secrets of the Ark not only had to be protected but also precise methods and protocols were implemented to insure the dissemination of information among the religious priests and their affiliates on a “ need to know basis.” One of the early suggestions was the reproduction and installation of many replicas of the Holy Ark in all Ethiopian Orthodox churches; this method was designed to create confusion in any group that might be interested on having a possession of the original true relic. In today’ s Ethiopia, there are 33,000 thousand replicas of the Holy Ark of the Covenant in the holy of holies of as many Churches and monasteries.
As recently as the mid 20th century, ancient traditional methods of communication were used by those involved in this secret enterprise. For example, colorful messages were weaved into the edges of the white shawls typically worn by men and women in Ethiopia. Although unnoticed by many in the open sight, religious tattooists were used to engrave messages and symbols on people to deliver secret information from one sect group to another. Those at the receiving end of the message would first check the tattoo on the messenger’ s body and match it before they even hear the message. The religious sect of the Ark has also used rug and jury makers to communicate with its key members.
One of the most important and yet unrecognized servants of the Ark sect are the religious artists who build magnificent churches, crosses, icons etc. within the Ethiopian Orthodox church. Underneath the old Orthodox Christian tradition, there is a much older and fascinating practice of an ancient religion that uses temples and holy of holies to perform ceremonies that many assumed to have disappeared from this planet thousands of years ago. For those who have come closer to seeing this out of the world ritual, it makes an absolute sense why the sect wants to keep the secret only to itself by all means necessary.
In 1964, a high ranking government official from the Emperor Haile Selassie’ s cabinet defected to the United States after representing Ethiopia at the United Nations general assembly meeting in New York. For over 30 years, Berhanu has lived a lonely, painful and fearful life in a small town near Kansas City in the U.S.A.. He has written a number of letters to “ His Majesty,” Emperor Haile-Selassie I, requesting for his forgiveness just a year after he defected. He also wrote a passionate letter for his return to Ethiopia and he never got an answer for it. In fact, many insiders believe that Berhanu was tolerated by the SIS and the Emperor’ s inner circle because of the letters he wrote consistently. The Emperor in return used Berhanu’ s experience to teach others the grave consequences for betrayal.
In many occasions, Berhanu was approached by SIS officers at unexpected locations including inside his own house. He can not figure out as to how and when the SIS officers got into his house or waited for him inside his car when he was leaving the liquor store he owned after midnight. When Berhanu took a vacation in Mexico a few years ago, he encountered the same people at his hotel room when he returned from dinner at a local restaurant. There are not many words from his followers but continuous reminders and he has the message clearly engraved in his mind, the SIS is watching his every move.
Berhanu has bought and sold many houses, door keys, and cars because of this reason and it continues to overshadow his entire life to this day. When he tried to share his experience with local law enforcement officials and friends, many have quickly concluded that he has a mental health problem or too much alcohol. People simply could not understand Berhanu’ s complaint as he was not reporting any thing stolen or even damage to his property. Some have even called the police on him suspecting that he was “ a drug dealer” after he humbly explained his situation and requested help from the neighbors to look after his property while he is away at the liquor store. He has realized that he can not outrun or “ out-hide” SIS officers even after the Emperor was killed by the “ Ethiopian Bolsheviks.” In fact, his encounter has gotten worst since then as he would find furniture and other belongings in his house rearranged every week when he returned to his house from a long day at work. What was even more shocking to Berhanu was that the video cameras he installed at his house and liquor store have never recorded anything out of the ordinary and he does not even have a single tape to show as an evidence for the “ trespassing.” He once locked his 24 hour surveillance recording VCR in a metal case and found it open the next day with the videos missing. This and many other experiences have left Berhanu hopeless and extremely fearful for his life. If the SIS wanted to kill him, it could have done it a long time ago and he does not why he is still alive.
While working at the main palace of the Emperor in Addis Ababa in the early1960s, Berhanu was once in charge of maintaining “ His Majesty’ s” daily calendars and protocols. He used to attend the morning briefing each day with other ranking cabinet members such as Prime Minister Aklilu Habte-Wold and arrange for other meetings to take place after consulting with the Emperor. Berhanu was given this duty after the sudden death of his predecessor in a mysterious car accident.
In the gloomy winter of 1962, Addis Ababa was soaked with continuous tropical rains and the shivering cold could be felt by anyone who stepped outside the cozy and warm homes and building. Many people were walking rapped in their winter closing while holding an umbrella. As the clouds continued to get darker and the sky seemed to have gotten smaller, the flood on the city streets was becoming a major concern for many residents with the exception of the young children who were playing on the streets when the pouring rain slowed down once in a while. Besides enjoying building small mini dams on the street out of clay and sliding on the hills, the little kids believed that playing in the rain would make them grow tall just like the plants in their neighborhoods.
For the most part of the winter, Berhanu was busy arranging the Emperor’ s meeting schedules with other world leaders. The Organization for African Unity (OAU) was scheduled to hold its yearly general meeting in a few months and heavy preparations were underway at the palace to welcome the visitors.
However, one day in the afternoon, Berhanu noticed something out of the ordinary. Two brand new Mercedes cars arrived at the main gate without his knowledge and the Emperor left the palace in a hurry. With the exception of the drivers in these cars, four unidentified people in the Mercedes got out and bowed for the Emperor and opened the door for him. As the palace lions roared at these unknown guests standing on the huge drive way, Berhanu tried to walk towards the cars for an inquiry and the Emperor’ s chief of security told him “ not to worry” about it. All of the sudden, the car doors were shut and they left with the Emperor at a high speed. Berhanu was puzzled by what he saw so he walked down the stairs to the chief of security’ s office to discuss what he noticed but the security chief was reluctant to discuss where the Emperor was headed. However, he confirmed that he was informed about it months ago.
Berhanu did not understand the sudden secrecy surrounding him and he could not wait until the Emperor returned to the palace. However, his curious mind would eventually lead him to something even bigger. After a two day absence, the Emperor returned to the palace and he was greeted by his family members. One of the grand daughters of the Emperor, Princess Tenagnewerk, was especially very close to her father and she ran out to greet him when she heard about his return. As they walked up the beautiful palace steps, the Princess was asking her father “ how was your trip” and “ how did it go” with a big smile on her face. Berhanu felt that he was kept in the dark as everyone seems to have known about the Emperor’ s trip except him.
Emperor Haile-Selassie was known for having a number of palaces through out Ethiopia during his reign. These palaces are sometimes identified as winter or summer palaces and they are located in the geographically most gorgeous parts of Ethiopia such as Wendogenet. Each palace had its own staff reporting to the chief of staff at the main palace. Typically, the Emperor himself would notify Berhanu about his plan to visit one of the vacation palaces and arrangements would be made accordingly at least for two weeks. When Berhanu called the chief administrators of each palace, he was informed that there were no vacation plans for the Emperor or any member of his family.
Months passed and Berhanu noticed more unannounced visitors and departures by the Emperor sometimes for as long as three weeks. Berhanu also observed the Emperor’ s behavior has changed dramatically as he looked much different each time when he returned from these mysterious trips. The Emperor would sit in his offices and libraries by himself reading certain documents for long periods of time. When the palace servants approached to serve him with breakfast or dinner, the Emperor would simply pass it without saying much. Most of the key cabinet meetings were being led by Prime Minster Aklilu Habte-Wold even when the Emperor was available in the palace. The Emperor told Berhanu to assist the prime minister until further notice and he did so without any question.
Berhanu’ s curious energy got so strong almost a year after he first noticed the Emperor’ s unusual behavior and he decided to study it further. Without consulting with anyone, Berhanu one day followed the Emperor’ s secret entourage from a distance and he discovered that the two Mercedes cars were taking the Emperor to the Ethiopian air force base in Debrezeyt, some 20 kilometers outside the capital, Addis Ababa. This discovery has raised more questions for Berhanu than answers. He wanted to know the identity of the people who were picking up the Emperor at the palace, why they were heading to the air force base and so on.
Just outside the city limits of Debrezeyt, there is a small mountain called “ Horah” which many Ethiopians associate with satanic cults who devour young children whose eyelids are connected. It is a common knowledge that many Ethiopians believed their Emperor was involved in some sort of secret ritual and Berhanu was well aware of these rumors but he did not believe in it. The rumors were so strong that many Ethiopian mothers used to hide their children if they possessed any one of the futures that would make them an interest for the Horah mountain Satan worshipers. Surprisingly, not far from the Horah mountain, one of the holiest monasteries in the ancient Ethiopian Christian tradition can be found secluded on another hill.
Berhanu’ s discovery of the Emperor’ s frequent trip to the Debrezeyt air force base eventually kept him in the city longer than he expected. He advised two of his distant cousins to go into the air force base as day workers to find out what was going inside the base. He equipped one of them with a small camera loaded with films. The other one was instructed to observe, listen and report back to Berhanu. Luckily both were able to go through the security check points easily and they ended up with construction and cleaning jobs at the base.
A month and half later, Berhanu received his first batch of information from his cousins which shocked him even a great deal. Several of the pictures taken by Berhanu’ s cousin showed the Emperor with many unknown people never seen before. In one picture, the Emperor was seen with seven bearded priests dressed in long religious robs sitting around a table. Another picture showed a large number of white doves and sheep in a production facility as one individual appeared to explain to the Emperor what he sees. One of Berhanu’ s cousins was able to land a cleaning job at one of these production facilities and he informed Berhanu that there were strange looking people from Armenia and other unknown countries who fluently spoke Amharic. The foreigners were working as consultants to the Ethiopian managers of these facilities. Other Ethiopians from different parts of the country can also be seen working quietly. The cousins told Berhanu that the priests seen on the pictures were going into the facility each day and they would carefully select a dozen doves and sheep and they took them into another large building at the south east corner of the air force base.
For Berhanu and his cousins, it was clear that something else was going on at the air force base. Other air force personnel such as fighter pilots were not even near these facilities where the Emperor and his special guests were located as a huge fence separates the actual flying facilities from the other buildings. Berhanu was informed by his cousins that the priests and the other unknown people from the buildings where the Emperor was staying were being driven into the air fields and they would leave by plane once in a while. One day, they even saw the Emperor himself leaving by a small jet from the base. When Berhanu inquired about these flights from the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA), he was informed to call the air force base in Debrezeyt.
Two months after receiving a ton of information from another relative who worked at air force base, Berhanu took some of the pictures to his uncle, Aba Nathnael Gebremichael who worked as a priest at the Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. His uncles eyes were opened wide when he saw the pictures of the priests and he quickly asked Berhanu where and how he acquired the pictures. Berhanu was amazed by his uncle’ s reaction and explained the story behind the pictures as he heard from cousins. After a long pause, his uncle told him to walk quietly with him into a stretch of secluded rooms attached to the Cathedral.
Aba Nathnael Gebremichael told Berhanu that the priests on the picture are chief Ethiopian Orthodox priests at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. They come to Ethiopia only upon the request of the high priest of the Holy Ark of the Covenant in Axum. The Ethiopian priests in Jerusalem are supposedly looking for certain signs based on a series of prophecies the Ark priests are anxiously awaiting for their final fulfillment. The priests in Jerusalem usually communicate back and forth with the priests in Ethiopia through a special messenger. Berhanu’ s uncle even told him that the two Mercedes cars he saw at the palace came from the Israeli Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Berhanu was intrigued by the information he received from his uncle. Before he walked out of the room, his uncle said “ one more thing… .” and when Berhanu turned his head his uncle told him “ this is not something to play with young man; it is a much more complicated matter than you think and I advise you to quietly leave Ethiopia immediately before you end up dead in a ditch.” His uncle told him that he should not have taken those pictures and advised him to destroy the camera and the pictures immediately.
When Berhanu returned to the palace, he was speechless. His heart was pumping faster every time when the phone was ringing or someone called his name. He could not believe that the Emperor whom he served for several years was involved in such a secret ritual that involved blood sacrifice at a secret underground Temple located at an air force base. Everything started to add up for him as he looked back on the events that took place. Emperor Haile-Selassie was one of the major contributors to these religious sects inside and outside Ethiopia. A few other rich Ethiopian business men were also involved in this secret ritual. Selassie’ s almost unstoppable obsession of attending these blood rituals with the high priests was unique by itself. Only a few Ethiopian Emperors were considered trustworthy enough to be even informed about the secret rituals. The last Ethiopian Emperor who was allowed to participate in the long and most powerful ancient ritual was King Yohannes IV (King John IV) of Ethiopia in the 1800s due to his strong faith and support for the priests. King John IV himself was a “ Kara” Orthodox Christian who died while fighting the Ottoman Turks from Egypt.
After resuming his work at the palace for a few weeks, Berhanu quickly submitted his intent to work in Ethiopian diplomatic missions overseas and his request was approved quickly due to his long service. In early 1964, Berhanu was sent for his first mission to the U.N. headquarters where he defected to the United States. Two weeks after his defection, the photo center that developed the pictures taken at the Debrezeyt air force base presented five rolls of films to an SIS officer in Addis Ababa and Berhanu was charged with a long list of crimes including “ treason” and “ espionage” against his country, Ethiopia.
After this incident, the SIS reinforced its massive campaign of misinformation on what went on at the Ethiopian air force base in Debrezeyt. The Hora mountain and the satanic cult stories were soon much more common in many Ethiopian households than any other time before. After the Emperor was overthrown by the military, these stories continued to persist at a larger scale as the communists used the stories in order to discredit the Emperor as much as possible.
In the United States, Berhanu has been fighting daily ever since he left his beloved Ethiopia. The SIS continues to follow his foot steps even at his old age and he seems to accept it as a price to pay for his curiosity and betrayal. His inability to keep secrets has brought all sorts of misery for him and his family. Since he left Ethiopia, he has never seen his wife and children. In 1988, his wife Yewubdar died while longing for husband for years after receiving only a few letters through other friends. The SIS was also at her door steps in Ethiopia until her death blocking all letters and support funds from her husband in the United States.
Berhanu’ s children sadly grew up without him and they suffered immensely due to severe economic hardship. They once lived in a villa home with two cars and plenty to eat. However, after their father left for America, they could not afford to even have a meal every day at their home. Berhanu’ s wife and children were kicked out of their homes with their little possession when the SIS got involved in this matter. Berhanu’ s oldest son, Nesibu, killed himself at the age of 24 after he was unable to find jobs to support himself, his mother, brother and sister. When Nesibu tired to join the Ethiopian military in 1993, he was told that he won’ t be accepted because “ he is a son of a traitor.” Berhanu’ s children knew that their father lived in America owning a liquor store but they never got a single penny from him as the SIS blocked all the money sent them form their father.
In America, older Ethiopians who knew Berhanu’ s story do not even talk to him at any gathering. At weddings or Ethiopian New Year celebrations in month of September, Berhanu would sit at the corner by himself and it was evident that other Ethiopian immigrants were not interested in talking to him. He has been isolated from his family and people for many years and there seem to be no end in sight.
As Kassa prepares to attend the critical meeting in northern Ethiopia, he continued to focus on chairing the important meeting in an orderly fashion and without any incident. At the same time, Kassa was contemplating on Berhanu’ s story from a long time ago as he was the young SIS officer who was sent to pickup Berhanu’ s Debrezeyt air force base photos and films from the photo center in Addis Ababa. In the old days, Ethiopian photo shops never returned the film to the customer after developing it. It was a business strategy that lured the customers back to the same photo shop to get the pictures redeveloped again and again for decades. Many Ethiopians find their family pictorial history in their local photo shop files to this day.
The “ Debrezeyt Incident” was the first and only setback for the SIS on Ethiopian soil. Since then, a number of provisions have been made to the organizations operational rules and procedures inside and outside Ethiopia. In recent times, Berhanu’ s story is being used as classic example while teaching and preparing new SIS recruits in Ethiopia for various missions. The group has vowed never to repeat the same mistake again and it has been very successful so far.