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The Role of Sudan in Islamist Terrorism: A Case Study

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by Douglas Farah
Published on April 13th, 2007
ARTICLES

Background

On March 14, 2007, a federal judge ruled that the government of Sudan was liable for the Oct. 12, 2000 al Qaeda bombing of the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen. The trial lasted less than two days and the government of Sudan chose not to respond to any of the allegations. Its motions for dismissal, based on the argument that too much time had passed from the actual bombing and killing of the 17 U.S. military personnel and the filing of the suit, were dismissed.

The suit charged that "Sudan's material support ... including continuous flow of funding, money, weapons, logistical support, diplomatic passports and religious blessing, was crucial in enabling the attack on the USS Cole." It further states that "the provision of material support or resources was engaged in by officials, employees and agents of the Republic of Sudan while such officials, employees or agents were acting within the scope of their office, employment or agency."[1]

U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar agreed, ruling that: "I don't think there's any question that there is substantial evidence in this case, presented by the expert testimony, that the government of Sudan induced the particular bombing of the Cole."[2]

The surviving family members of the 17 people killed when a small boat loaded with explosives rammed into the USS Cole while it was docked, are seeking the $68 million in Sudanese government assets that remain frozen inside the United States. Lawyers for the families said they have identified the bank accounts and real estate properties owned by the government of Sudan. However, Doumar had indicated he might limit the monetary award to about half that amount under the Death on the High Seas Act, which allows for monetary damages but not damages for pain and suffering.[3]

Brief History

The case and verdict are important because they helped spotlight the many different roles Sudan has played and continues to play in supporting Islamist radicalism and violent jihad against the non-Islamic world.

Sudan, the largest country in Africa—about the size of the United States east of the Mississippi--occupies a unique place in the recent history of Islamist terrorism. Located in northeastern Africa it is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, the Central African Republic, Chad and Libya to the west and by Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the south. Geographically diverse, Sudan sits at the crucial crossroads of the Arab Peninsula, northern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. With a population of about 41 million, much of the country is sparsely populated. About 70 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim.[4]

The government, since the early 1990s, has played a crucial role in bringing together disparate elements that today contribute to Islamist terrorism, providing a key venue where disparate groups can meet, plan strategy, share resources and deal across the traditional Shi’ite-Sunni divide. The bridge that makes such commingling possible is the Muslim Brotherhood, formally known as the al Ikhwan Al-Moslemoon[5].

The Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hasan al Banna, in order to bring about an Islamic revival in the wake of the collapse of the remnants of the last Islamic caliphate. Al-Banna believed there was a profound need for a movement to awaken the spiritually dormant Muslim populations, who, he believed, had drifted from the faith and forgotten the ways of Allah. The organization’s central premise is that there is no separation between faith and politics or the rest of a believer’s life. They believe Islam and the Koran provided the ultimate answer to all political and social issues, as well as the perfect financial system.

As a result, the Ikhwan’s creed encompasses this belief by stating that:

1. Allah is our objective;

2. The messenger (Mohammed) is our leader;

3. Quran is our law:

4. Jihad is our way;

5. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.[6]

The chief Sudanese architect of the Brotherhood has been Hasan Abdallah Dafa’allah al Turabi, respected cleric who was the founder of the National Islamic Front (NIF). It is important to bear in mind that the Brotherhood was outlawed in most of the Islamic world after the 1950s, with the notable exception of Saudi Arabia, which gave shelter and support to many Ikhwan leaders. Sudan was the first time members of the Brotherhood held formal political power in a state.

Among the pioneering moves of al Turabi and the NIF after taking power in 1989 was the acceptance of Islamic banking structures. The NIF "was an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood but sought a broader base for the popular mobilization of a political agenda of the Islamization of Sudanese society. It received substantial funding from Islamic banks—Faisal Bank, Tadamon, Dal al Mal al Islami (DMI) Investment Corporation and the Kuwaiti zakat fund, and through its members gained control of the currency exchange market."[7]

Al Turabi made no effort to hide either the NIF’s association with the Muslim Brotherhood or the NIF’s internationalist aims, as shown in the following two statements from 1987:

I admit we are a threat to the present world order…We just seek to correct the world order. We just seek to express our Islamic values.[8]

Our aim is to utilize fully the rich heritage of the Ikhwan (Brotherhood) in such areas as organization, documentation, education, the high spiritual and moral standards, specialization and international relations, and streamline it with the growth in numbers and size of the movement which has now absorbed hundreds of thousands of people.[9]

The Arrival of Osama bin Laden in Sudan

It was into this milieu that Turabi invited Osama bin Laden and several hundred of his Afghan fighters, who arrived in 1991. At the time, the NIF government had instituted a policy of allowing any Muslim into the country without a visa. Bin Laden was initially suspicious enough of al-Turabi’s offer of sanctuary to send a scouting party to Khartoum to make sure the offer was genuine. When he felt he would be secure in Sudan, bin Laden moved there with up to 1,000 of his "Arab-Afghan" veterans and their families. To cement the relationship, bin Laden took al-Turabi’s niece as his third wife after the move.[10]

Bin Laden’s business investments, as well as his ties to the NIF and the Sudanese military establishment, have been amply documented, and will not be repeated at length here. These include bin Laden’s ownership of businesses, the approximately 30 training camps and farms, the construction of important roads, and his investment of $50 million in the al Shamal Bank.[11] Due to the direct intervention of president Omar al-Bashir, (who is still in power today), bin Laden’s companies and financial enterprises were allowed to import goods without inspection or the payment of taxes.[12]

What is less analyzed is the general context into which bin Laden and the nascent al Qaeda movement were introduced. Following the triumph of the NIF revolution in June 1989, led by Bashir, the leadership of the international Muslim Brotherhood met in London and "decided to transform Sudan into a base and safe haven for Islamist movements in the Arab world, Africa and Asia…in which Sudan would become a springboard to Arab and African countries in return for significant financial assistance. Toward this end an International Muslim Brotherhood leadership board of 19 members was established in Khartoum." [13]

Under the leadership of al-Turabi, Sudan hosted the first Popular Arab and Islamic Congress (PAIC) on April 25-28, 1991, a conclave of 300 Sudanese and 200 delegates from 45 states. "Like the great haubs (sandstorms) that periodically engulf Khartoum, Islamists, mullahs and terrorists from the Muslim world made their way to the capital of the Sudan and the office of Hasan al-Turabi."[14]

One of al-Turabi’s passions was the creation of a pan-Islamist movement/state that was not bound by national borders or internal theological splits, consistent with the thinking of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, as outlined in the seminal 1983 Muslim Brotherhood paper titled "The Project."

The Project calls on its members to work with "Islamic groups and organizations on different pivotal issues, agreeing on some common points, cooperate on what we have agreed upon and excuse each other on what we have disagreed upon." It also says its members should "accept the idea of a type of transitory/temporary cooperation between Islamic and other national movements, on general issues and on some of the points that do not involve disagreement, such as fighting colonization, missionary work and the Jewish state, in a way that does not reach the level of forming alliances but that takes place on the level of limited elements of leadership or communication."[15]

It is this concept of the pan-Islamist, non-territorial state that helps explain al-Turabi’s subsequent success in courting both the Shi’ite regime in Iran and the radical Sunni groups such as al Qaeda. The precept of establishing working relationships with nationalist groups also helps explain the presence of non-Islamists such as Yasser Arafat at some of the early meetings of the PAIC.

Al-Turabi’s close ties to Iranian intelligence and political leadership were cemented in early 1991, including cooperation in the paramilitary and intelligence fields. When Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani visited Khartoum he declared Sudan the "vanguard of the Islamic revolution in the African continent," as well as offering tens of millions of dollars in economic aid. Shortly thereafter Rafsanjani dispatched a force of at least several hundred (some reports say 2,000) members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the newly-formed Quds Forces, to help train Sudanese security forces and foreign Islamist fighters.[16]

Another sign of the closeness of al-Turabi and the Iranian regime came when the Rafsanjani government named Majid Kamel as the Iranian charge d’affaires in Khartoum. Kamel had previously served in Lebanon and was instrumental in creating Hezbollah in the early 1980s. He was viewed by U.S. officials as active during the kidnapping of U.S. citizens by Hezbollah.[17]

This relationship with Iran, according to al Qaeda defectors, allowed al-Turabi to broker a series of meetings between Osama bin Laden and senior leaders of Hezbollah and Iranian intelligence. The meetings occurred from 1992 until bin Laden departed Sudan for Afghanistan in 1996. According to the U.S. indictment of bin Laden, "At various times between, in, or about 1992 and in, or about 1996, (al Qaeda officials) met with an Iranian religious official in Khartoum as part of an overall effort to arrange a tripartite agreement between al Qaeda, the National Islamic Front of Sudan and element of the government of Iran to work together against the United States, Israel and other Western countries."[18]

The meetings also led to a meeting between bin Laden and Shaykh Nomani, a senior Iranian official in Khartoum. The meeting was arranged by Ahmad Abd al-Rahman Hamadabi, a Sudanese Sunni scholar with close ties to al-Turabi. Shortly thereafter several al Qaeda militants were sent for advanced explosives training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon.[19]

The Case of the Third World Relief Agency

Al-Turabi’s pan-Islamist efforts bore immediate fruit in the Bosnia war, the first major post-Cold War European conflict. The vehicle was the Third World ReliefAgency (TWRA), a charity based in Vienna, Austria.

The charity, which has served as a template for radical Islamist operations around the world, was founded in 1987 by a Sudanese named Fatih el Hassanein and he served as chairman. His brother, Sukorno Ali Hassanein, served as treasurer. Most of other officers were also Sudanese.

Fatih el Hassanein was granted a diplomatic passport by Sudanese government, enabling him to travel freely across the region without being searched or questioned.[20] The public role of the organization was to encourage Islamic renewal in the former Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Europe. In reality, with the help of the Brotherhood leaders in Sudan and Europe, it channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to Bosnian Muslim fighters and to the Brotherhood structure of Sudan. A forensic audit of three TWRA accounts in Austria, carried out by German intelligence at the request of the International Criminal Court of the Hague, concluded that the accounts "expose a far-reaching network of individuals, organizations and companies which indicated intensive and frequent contracts in the entire Islamic world."[21]

TWRA in essence acted as the funding mechanism to buy hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons for the Bosnian Muslims, who were under siege by the Serbs. This attack galvanized the Islamic world, and several thousand Arab fighters from Afghanistan and elsewhere rushed to Bosnia, along with other volunteers in what was viewed by Islamic groups of almost every stripe as a defensive jihad, fully condoned by the Koran.[22]

The Islamic world, led by Saudi Arabia, but joined by Iran and other nations, rushed money and weapons to help the Muslims circumvent the international arms embargo on Bosnia. The United States and most European countries, unwilling to lift the embargo, nevertheless were unwilling to enforce it either. According to European investigators of TWRA, the case provides a clear example of the international Brotherhood’s ability to bridge the Sunni-Shite divide in the Islamic world.

The bridges in this case were the Hassanein brothers, guided by al-Turabi in Khartoum, and a Bosnian government official named Hasan Cengic. Cengic was a well-known radical Islamist Bosnian Muslim official who was primarily responsible for acquiring weapons for the Muslim forces and breaking the weapons embargo.[23] Cengic, an imam frequently described as an Iranian intelligence agent, later served as Bosnia’s deputy defense minister. The U.S. would eventually place Cengic on the Treasury Department’s list of banned individuals because of his ties to Iranian intelligence and his efforts to disrupt the Balkans peace process.[24]

TWRA immediately showed what a united Islamic front could accomplish if they set aside their theological differences. From 1992 to 1995, when it was shut down by Austrian officials, some $400 million flowed through the organization’s three overt bank accounts in Vienna[25], including donations from a who’s who of Muslim radicals, al Qaeda supporters and, reportedly, Osama bin Laden. Several of donors would later resurface on the "Golden Chain" list of suspected major al Qaeda financiers.

Investigators say that about half of the money was spent on weapons. The agency's first large operation came to the attention of Western intelligence agencies in September 1992, when Soviet-built transport planes began arriving in Maribor, Slovenia, from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. While the cargo was marked humanitarian aid, it contained more than 120 tons of assault rifles, mortars, mines and ammunition.[26] The shipment was allegedly arranged by the international Brotherhood, with the full backing of the Ikhwan structure in Sudan.[27]

European intelligence officials later determined that the Maribor weapons shipments were transferred from Khartoum by Russian aircraft controlled by a Russian national named Viktor Bout, who would, within a few years, become one of the world’s largest illicit arms dealers across Africa, as well as servicing the Taliban and Moamar Gadaffi in Libya. The enduring nature of the relationship between Bout and Khartoum would resurface again following the collapse of the Taliban, and is detailed below.[28]

While Cengic, closely tied to Iran, handled the money, much of the money came from Saudi Arabia, often in suitcases full of cash that were dropped off in the bank. Wael Julaidan, a Saudi who was later designated by both Saudi Arabia and the United States as a terrorist financier, deposited millions of dollars in the TWRA accounts, and withdrew money from them.[29] This ability to work across the Sunni-Shite religious divide is something that Muslim Brotherhood leaders pride themselves on. In several wars, including the Iraq-Iran war, the first Gulf war and elsewhere, the Brotherhood dispatched its leaders, usually including Youssef Nada, to try to mediate the disputes among Muslims.[30]

One of those in frequent contact with TWRA and Hassanein was Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric who is now serving a life sentence in federal prison in Colorado for planning a series of terrorist attacks in New York. The "Blind Sheikh" had spent time in Sudan after fleeing Egypt, and move to Brooklyn to begin radical Islamist outreach in the United States. He was charged and convicted of masterminding the 1993 plot, dubbed "Day of Terror," which was to be simultaneous strikes on the U.N. headquarters, the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and other New York City landmarks. Intelligence services had tapes of Rahman calling TWRA offices to discuss selling tapes of his sermons there.[31]

The charity was raided by Austrian officials in September 1995, and officially closed shortly thereafter. But intelligence officials familiar with the operation said the Austrian authorities warned TWRA of the impending raid, allowing the operation to move some $300 million out of its accounts before the crackdown took effect.[32]

"What is striking about the TWRA case is that the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist radicals worked together in ways that we still see in many areas," said one European intelligence official who has studied the case extensively. "It was a template they set up for their operations that was very successful and, while they have made adjustments, the basic structure remains unchanged."[33]

Sudan’s Post-Bin Laden Role and The U.S. Response

While the U.S. intelligence community was unused to monitoring radical Islamist movements, the constant procession of Iranian officials and jihadists into Khartoum did catch their attention.

In December 1991, during the final days of the administration of George H.W. Bush, the State Department sent an envoy to Khartoum to warn the Sudanese government that there were a growing number people in Sudan "that we considered to be terrorists," and that sanctions would be imposed if the problem were not dealt with.[34]

In 1993, the Clinton administration did place Sudan on the list of states sponsoring terrorism, and it has remained on the list since, despite recent statements softening the traditional criticism of the Bashir regime because of increased cooperation in the global war on terror.

The Bashir government, under strong U.S. and international pressure, asked bin Laden and his fighters, along with their families, to leave Sudan in 1996, and bin Laden and most of his followers returned to Afghanistan, where the Taliban had recently taken power.

But U.S. officials were convinced that the Sudanese were insincere. "With the exception of the expulsion of Osama bin Laden, which was not followed by any steps to get rid of his financial network, they have not done anything serious," said Susan Rice, the State Department’s senior Africa official, said.[35]

Secretary of State Madeline Albright called Sudan "a viper's nest of terrorists" in 1996, not long after unconfirmed intelligence reports said that terrorists in Sudan were plotting to kill Clinton National Security Adviser Anthony Lake.[36]

Bin Laden’s departure hardly ended the nexus between senior Sudanese officials and Islamist radicals. Although Bashir and al-Turabi eventually had a falling out, the Islamist groups continued to use Khartoum as a hub for operations. This was not unknown to the U.S. intelligence community, despite the withdrawal of most U.S. diplomatic and intelligence officials in early 1996.[37]

In the years following bin Laden’s departure from Sudan, the State Department’s annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism" reports repeatedly described ongoing terrorist activities in Sudan. The following is typical:

Sudan in 1999 continued to serve as a central hub for several international terrorist groups, including Usama Bin Ladin's al-Qaida organization. The Sudanese Government also condoned Iran's assistance to terrorist and radical Islamist groups operating in and transiting through Sudan.

Khartoum served as a meeting place, safehaven, and training hub for members of the Lebanese Hizballah, Egyptian Gama'at al-Islamiyya, al-Jihad, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, HAMAS, and Abu Nidal organization. Sudan's support to these groups included the provision of travel documentation, safe passage, and refuge. Most of the groups maintained offices and other forms of representation in the capital, using Sudan primarily as a secure base for organizing terrorist operations and assisting compatriots elsewhere.[38]

In 1998, following the al Qaeda bombing of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the Clinton administration ordered the bombing of the al Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, charging the site was being used by bin Laden and other terrorists to make the VX nerve gas and other chemical weapons. The veracity of the allegations against the facility and its owner, Salih Idriss, remain in dispute.[39]

At the same time, other intelligence services were becoming alarmed at the role Sudan was still playing in supporting international Islamist jihad. A report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in 2000 found that Sudan was still active in supporting bin Laden and branches of his al Qaeda organization. The report found that the al Jihad Islamist terrorist group had training camps in Sudan, Bosnia and Afghanistan. "In Sudan and Bosnia, AJ camps are finances by Saudi dissident and terrorist financier Osama bin Laden," the report states. It then outlined a series of meetings among Ayman Al-Zawhiri, "officials in Tehran and the Sudanese Intelligence Service of the National Islamic Front in Khartoum."

The report further stated that in 1998 "Zawahiri and leaders of Sudanese, Eritrean, Ugandan, Yemeni and Egyptian Islamic groups established budgets for financing international terrorist operations and plans to mobilize officials in Sudan’s embassies in London, Sanaa, New York, Rome, Karachi and Mogadishu. These leaders also agreed at the meeting to open Sudan’s doors to international Islamic fundraising organizations and to facilitate the movement of extremists by providing them with Sudanese diplomatic passports."[40]

Also active at this time in Sudan was the Muwafaq Foundation, a charity run by Saudi businessman Yassin Qadi (aka Kadi). Both the organization and Qadi have been designated by the United States Treasury Department and the United Nations as supporters of terrorism.

An unclassified summary of the U.S. case against Qadi alleges that the charity had numerous ties to international terrorism, including al Qaeda in Sudan and other Sudanese operations.

"The pattern of activity displayed by Mr. Qadi and his foundation and business is typical of the financial support network of al Qa’ida and other terrorist organization," the summary said. "Working in troubled areas such as Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan and various refugee camps, the putative ‘relief’ organizations provide cover for individuals engaged in recruiting, organizing and training terrorist cells. Their provision of humanitarian aid and educational service is done in concert with the terrorists to win the hearts and minds of the local people to whatever cause the terrorists espouse."[41]

An internal power struggle between al Turabi and Bashir in 1999, which al Turabi lost, considerably weakened the influence of al Turabi in Sudan. Nevertheless, the radical Islamist presence remained in Sudan, largely in the forms of multiple training camps for different Islamist organizations, as well as through the Sudanese non-governmental organization known as Munazzamat al-Dawa al-Islamiyya (MDI). MDI missionaries often work closely with missionaries from the Jama’at al-Tabligh movement, a "proselytizing Muslim organization with roots in Pakistan but which is known to be an entrance hall of jihadist and salafist extremist groups."[42]

Sudan’s Role in the Cole Bombing and Beyond

According to evidence and testimony presented by the plaintiffs in the case against Sudan, al Qaeda operatives "received no less than four large crates of weapons and explosives from the Sudanese military, stored these containers at a farm owned by Osama bin Laden and then shipped the same on an al Qaeda-owned vessel from the Port of Sudan to Yemen for further terrorist activities in Yemen. The Republic of Sudan allowed its diplomatic pouch to be used to transport explosive materials by al Qaeda outside the geographic borders of Sudan."[43]

The plaintiffs successfully argued that Sudan, in fact, had never stopped its support for Islamist terrorism, and that the attack on the Cole could not have been carried out without the persistent support of the Sudanese government.

There is also substantial evidence that Sudan continued to play an important role in the radical Islamist network after the attacks of 9/11. The most compelling information came in the aftermath of the U.S.-led coalition invasion of Afghanistan.

As the Taliban fell, its holdouts and al Qaeda stalwarts had sent waves of couriers to move their jeopardized treasury of gold ingots and other valuables across the border for safe keeping in Pakistan. Some of the gold, as well as new stores acquired by trading opium, was then quietly shipped by air from Pakistan to the UAE and Iran, then on to Sudan. At least some of the aircraft being chartered to fly the gold shipments and other products belonged to Viktor Bout’s companies. European intelligence sources monitoring the gold transfers, which were often hidden among shipments of other products, say they could not have taken place without the knowledge and approval of the highest levels of the Sudanese government.[44]

The Sudanese government has reportedly continued to support al Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups that have been cooperating with the janjaweed militias in the Darfur genocide. Bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders have called repeatedly for the mobilization of jihadist forces to Sudan to fight.

According to a confidential United Nations intelligence report written in late 2006:

Information gathered suggests that since mid-April 2006 a group of AQ members is present in North Darfur State (Sudan). Their main purpose is to provide training to Arab militants who are under control of the prominent Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal. Reports suggest that training has commenced at allegedly three different locations in El Fasher-Kabkabiya region.[45]

The report provides a map of the locations of the three suspected al Qaeda-run training camps, and concludes that one of the main purposes of the groups would be to attack U.N. peacekeepers should they arrive. The government of Sudan has resisted strong international pressure to allow a robust international peacekeeping force in the Darfur region where hundreds of thousands have been murdered, maimed and displaced.

Conclusions

The government of Sudan, guided by Hasan al Turabi and members of the international Muslim Brotherhood, have played a significant role in the logistical, ideological and theological support of al Qaeda and other violent and radical Islamist movements. The same actors played a significant role in helping to create a new Islamic banking system, including structures such as Sudan’s Al Shamal Bank that were directly used by al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

The support continues in various ways to this day, despite some small steps by the government to create the appearance of cooperation in the fight against radical Islam. However, this cooperation appears to be extremely limited and aimed at getting international sanctions against the regime lifted and getting the regime removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The internal fighting within the Sudanese regime that has weakened the network of al Turabi has, nonetheless, not diminished support for radical, international Islamists or their global agenda.

The case against the government of Sudan in providing the logistical and material support for the attack on the USS Cole was an important step in holding the government of Sudan accountable for its ongoing support of international, violent, Islamist groups. The fact that the government chose not to contest the facts of the case leads one to believe that they could not mount a credible defense, despite the fact that the government stands to suffer significant monetary loses due to the ruling.

Despite widespread agreement that the government of Sudan continues to sponsor Islamist terrorism, as evidenced by its continued inclusion on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, and its complicity in the reign of terror inflicted by the janjaweed in Darfur, there is little policy attention given to Sudan and no consensus on what path to pursue. Promises of imminent new "Plan B" sanctions by the Bush administration against the regime in January 2007 have gone unfulfilled, as have promises of ending the Darfur genocide.

The repeated threats of sanctions, which have gone unfulfilled, have greatly reduced the effectiveness of such threats and likely have emboldened the Sudanese regime in its support for Islamist violence on various fronts. The possibility of significant economic sanctions is undermined by the emergence of China as a major investor in the Sudanese petroleum industry. Without Chinese support for real sanctions against the regime, which has so far been unforthcoming and is unlikely to be forthcoming, the regime is afforded significant protection.

While some international attention has been focused on the Darfur crisis, little has been directed toward Sudan’s role in supporting Islamist jihad organizations and the role of some of its leaders as brokers among different Islamist groups, including across the religious Sunni and Shi’ite divide. This important role will continue until the regime is forced to change. Without significant new attention to the role of Sudan and the development of a realistic policy for dealing with the regime’s support of violent jihadists, Sudan will continue to pose a significant strategic threat to the United Sates and the non-Islamist world, as well as to its neighbors in the increasingly unstable African continent.


[1] Olivia Rux et al vs. Republic of Sudan, Civil Action No. 2:04CV428, in the United States District Court for the Eastern Division of Virginia, Norfolk Division.

[2] Tim McGlone, "Judge Finds Sudan Responsible for Terrorist Bombing of Cole," The Virginian-Pilot, March 14, 2007, accessed at: http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=121114&ran=99698&tref=rss. In the interest of full disclosure, the author served as one of four expert witnesses called by the plaintiffs in the case.

[3] Tim McGlone, op cit.

[4] Statistics taken from U.S. Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs, "Background Note: Sudan."

[5] The Sudanese Brotherhood was founded in 1954, where al Turabi and others formed the Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood Association, according to Ronald Sandee of the Defense Intelligence Service of the Netherlands. A copy of a paper titled "Islamism, Jihadism and Terrorism in Sudan" which he presented at the American Enterprise Institute on Aug. 6, 2004 was made available by the author.

[6] While the history of the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood has been amply written, I have taken the section on its history and goals from the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English language website: http://www.ummah.net/ikhwan/. I did this to avoid using language that the Ikhwan itself does not use to define itself.

[7] J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins, Alms for Jihad, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006, p. 108.

[8] Claes-Johan Lampi Sorensen, Masters Thesis, "The Islamic Movement in Sudan: External Relations and the Power Struggle After 1989," Department of Political Studies and Public Administration, American University of Beirut, April 26, 2002. He cites as his source: Hassan al-Turabi in Lowrie, Islam, Democracy, the State and the West: A Round Table with Dr. Hasan Turabi, World and Islamic Studies Enterprise, Tampa, University of South Florida, 1993, p. 60.

[9] Claes-Johan Lampi Sorensen, op cit, citing: Hasan al Turabi in Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi, The Makings of a Political Leader: Conversations with Hasan al-Turabi, English translation by Ashur A. Shamis, Westview Press, 1988, p. 62.

[10] Burr and Collins, op cit, p. 120.

[11] For the most comprehensive official list, see: State Department Fact Sheet on Osama bin Laden, August 14, 1996. For a more comprehensive look at the al Qaeda structure, including the different committees established to run growing organization, see the 9/11 Commission’s "Overview of the Enemy: Staff Statement No. 15," pp. 2-3. Much of the information on the al Qaeda structure in Sudan was provided by Jamal al-Fadl, an al Qaeda defector, who testified in open court in the case of The United States of America vs. Osama bin Laden et al, Southern District of New York, February 2001.

[12] Rohan Gunaratna, Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror, Columbia University Press, New York, 2002, p. 31.

[13] Sandee, op cit.

[14] Burr and Collins, op cit, p. 120.

[15] The document, dated Dec. 1, 1983, was found in the house of Youssef Nada, a leader of the international Muslim Brotherhood, during a police raid in October 2001. Nada has been designated a terrorist financier by both the U.S. Department of Treasury and the United Nations.

[16] Sandee, op cit., and http://www.arab.de/arabinfo/sudan-government.htm

[17] David Ignatius, "U.S. Officials Fear Sudan is ‘New Lebanon’" Washington Post, Jan. 31, 1992.

[18] Indictment, , The United States of America vs. Osama bin Laden et al , op cit, and testimony of al-Fadl, op cit.

[19] Testimony of al-Fadl, op cit, and Burr and Collins, op cit, p. 118.

[20] The account of the operations of TWRA are drawn from the following public and private documents in possession of the author: John Pomfret, "Bosnia Muslims Dodged Embargo," The Washington Post, Sept. 22, 1996, p. A1; Peter Andreas, "The Clandestine Political Economy of War and Peace in Bosnia," International Studies Quarterly, 2004; Expert Report Relating to the Third World Relief Agency for the International Court of Criminal Justice for the Former Yugoslavia, Federal Office of Criminal Investigations, Germany, Aug. 28, 2003; "Case Study: The Third World Relief Agency," Joint Intelligence Study of the Muslim Brotherhood, 2005.

[21] Expert Report Relating to the Third World Relief Agency for the International Court of Criminal Justice for the Former Yugoslavia, op cit.

[22] For a complete accounting of the jihadist role in Bosnia, including TWRA, see: Evan F. Kohlmann, Al Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network,Berg, New York, 2004.

[23] John Pomfret, "Bosnia’s Muslims Dodged Embargo," The Washington Post, Sept. 22, 1996, p. A1.

[24] U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control, "List of Designated and Blocked Individuals," p. 65.

[25] According to the Expert Report Relating to the Third World Relief Agency for the International Court of Criminal Justice for the Former Yugoslavia, Federal Office of Criminal Investigations, Germany, Aug. 28, 2003, the amount that went through two TWRA accounts was broken down as follows: $80 million in 1992, $231 million in 1993 and $39 million in 1994/1995, when the charity was officially shut down by Austrian authorities.

[26] Pomfret, op cit.

[27] Author interview with U.N. Criminal Investigative Unit investigators, European intelligence and U.S. law enforcement officials, 2004-2005.

[28] Joint European Intelligence Assessment of the International Muslim Brotherhood, November 2005, in possession of the author.

[29] Douglas Farah, "Saudis Face U.S. Demand on Terrorism," Washington Post, Nov. 26, 2002, p. A1.

[30] Nada himself discussed in great detail his mediation efforts in a series of interviews with al-Jazeera television in 2002. Transcripts of the interviews were provided by the NEFA Foundation and are in possession of the author.

[31] Pomfret, op cit.

[32] Author interviews with European intelligence officials, 2005-2005.

[33] Author interview, March 2007.

[34] Ignatius, op cit.

[35] Tim Weiner and James Risen, "Decision to Strike Factory in Sudan Based Partly on Surmise," The New York Times, Sept. 20, 1998, accessed at: http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/shifa.htm

[36] Weiner and Risen, op cit.

[37] Weiner and Risen, op cit.

[38] U.S. State Department, "Overview of State-Sponsored Terrorism," Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999.

[39] Weiner and Risen, op cit.

[40] "Statement Summarizing the Information Pursuant to the Immigration Act in Relation to Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub," Federal Court of Canada, Trial Division, filed June 27, 2000. This 31-page document filed in defense of the Canadian government’s arrest of Mahjoub, a former bin Laden employee in Sudan, who had sought refugee status in Canada. He claimed that he did not know bin Laden was a terrorist and was not involved in terrorist activities. In February 2007, after seven years in jail, he was placed under house arrest awaiting deportation to Egypt. It was this undisputed assertion in a public trial document that lent weight to the plaintiffs’ argument that Sudan had played an active role in facilitating the 2000 Cole attack.

[41] The U.S Department of Treasury, letter from David Aufhauser, General Counsel, to M. Claude Micati, Subatitut Procureur General, Switzerland, "Re: Yassin A. Kadi," Nov. 29, 2001. Copy in possession of the author.

[42] Sandee, op cit.

[43] Olivia Rux et al vs. Republic of Sudan, paragraphs 34-35. The Republic of Sudan did not dispute these statements.

[44] Douglas Farah, "Al Qaeda Gold Moved to Sudan," The Washington Post, Sept. 3, 2002, p. A1.

[45] "Possible AQ Presence in Darfur," UN Confidential Report, May 17, 2007.

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