Is Sudan Terrorism's New Mecca?
Subject Area - Topical Issues
Table of Contents
Executive Summary ii
Country Facts 2
Historical Perspective and Background 3
The Iran-Sudan Connection 4
The Link to Terrorism 6
World Reaction 8
Egyptian Reaction 9
Ethiopian Reaction 10
Eritrean Reaction 11
Libyan Reaction 12
U.S. Reaction 13
Sudan's Reaction to the Threat of U.N.
Is Sudan terrorism's new Mecca, or a victim of anti-Islamic fear? If you ask Sheik Hassan al-Turabi, leader of Sudan's National Islamic Front, Sudan has no connections to terrorism and is being falsely accused because of its Islamic affiliation. However, if you ask any of Sudan's bordering neighbors, the image of terrorism is quite vivid.
In a time when terrorist oriented countries such as Iran and Libya were tempering their passion for openly funding terrorism, an unlikely supporter emerged. Who would have thought that a country desperately trying to stabilize after a 1989 coup d'etat, engulfed in civil war for the past thirteen years, and economically crippled would openly engage in terrorist activities?
Despite the historical religious animosity, for the first time in history, a minority Shia sect of Islam forged links with a Sunni Muslim government... Iran and Sudan. The world braced for the resultant off-spring that this unholy alliance would produce. The courtship started in late 1991, and the results were quickly revealed. Revolutionary Guard personnel began training fundamentalist people's militias set up by Sudan's Islamic regime. Syrians, Palestinians and Iranians infiltrated schools looking for recruits to indoctrinate into terrorist training. The ultimate goal of this Iran-Sudan connection was the spread of radical fundamentalist Islam.
Links to Terrorism
Despite the denials of Sheik Hassan al-Turabi, there are some peculiar coincidences that he has failed to account for. Following the Libyan shut down of some of its terrorist camps, elements of the radical Palestinian Abu Nidal organization surface in Sudan. Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas open offices in Khartoum. Terrorist training camps are identified outside of Khartoum. Osama bin Laden, a known financier of terrorism takes refuge in Sudan after being stripped of his Saudi citizenship. Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted in the bombing of the World Trade Center obtains his visa to the U.S. in Khartoum. Sudan's involvement in the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in June 1995.
The evidence is overwhelming, Sudan has not only provided a safe haven for terrorists, it has also facilitated in the training of these groups, and become a launch pad for terrorism.
With the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of super power diplomacy, state-sponsored terrorism appeared to be a casualty. However, there still remained a few countries who promoted terrorism, and the list was about to increase with a newcomer. Who would have guessed that war-torn Sudan would emerge as a pivotal player in the high stakes game of terrorism?
Tehran and Tripoli, two of the major sources of funding, tempered their passion to openly engage in terrorists activities, as a direct result of the 1986 U.S. airstrike against Libya and ensuing sanctions. The message was clear: the price for open affiliation with terrorism had become costly and surrogate warfare was not to be showcased, but layered in plausible deniability.
"On the other hand, Sudan without fanfare, has become for terrorists what the Barbary Coast was for pirates of another age; a safe haven."1 Was the radical Islamic fundamentalist regime openly supporting and encouraging the export of terrorism?
The connections are tantalizing. Libya shuts down some of its terrorist camps, and elements of the radical Palestinian Abu Nidal organization surface in Sudan. Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas set up offices in Khartoum. Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani visits Khartoum, and Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel soon arrive to train the fundamentalist people's militias set up by Sudan's Islamic regime.2
Here is a country still trying to stabilize after a 1989 coup d'etat, engulfed in a civil war for the past thirteen years, a fledgling Islamic government with an economy crippled by near triple-digit inflation, and a staggering debt of some sixteen billion dollars; what was the strategy? What were the motivating factors for this politically isolated, bankrupt, culturally fractured nation-state to become a safe haven and alleged exporter of terrorism? Is Sudan terrorism's new Mecca, or as the National Islamic Front (NIF) government claims, the victim of anti-Islamic fear?
Sudan is the largest country in Africa, comprising approximately 967,500 square miles, roughly the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi river. Although it is the largest county in Africa, it is also one of the poorest, with forty percent unemployment and spiraling inflation. Of the twenty seven million inhabitants, approximately eighty percent live in rural areas. The ethnic make-up of the country is approximately seventy five percent Sunni Muslim, who live mainly in the north; the remainder of the 550 ethnic groups comprise mainly African black christian and animist groups, who preside mostly in the south.
Sudan has a proven history of political and economic instability. Since gaining independence from Britain in 1956, the country lapsed into civil war. The civil war pitted the ruling Arab northerners against the black southerners. The war lasted until 1972 and caused the deaths of more than half a million people.
After a series of civilian and military governments, power was seized in 1969 by Gaafar el-Nimeiri with support from the communists. Nimeiri ruled Sudan for sixteen years. Nimeiri's major accomplishment was the 1972 Addis Ababa accords, which promoted secularism and southern autonomy, temporarily ending the civil war. With his secular support wavering in the 1980's, Nimeiri turned to the Islamists and named Hassan al-Turabi attorney general. "Reversing his earlier policy of tolerance, in 1983 he decreed the September laws, which reimposed the sharia, including the notorious hudud, the amputation of the hand for theft".3
Southern army units mutinied over the decree and civil war broke out again in 1983. A combination of war, desperate economic conditions, and a crippling foreign debt resulted in Nimeiri's dictatorship being overthrown in 1985. A democratic civilian government emerged after elections in 1986, and once again Turabi and the Islamists were subdued. The dominant political movement was the Umma party, and the prime minister elected in 1986 was Sadiq al-Mahdi. In June 1989, Mahdi was overthrown in a military coup led by General Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, who immediately proclaimed Sudan an Islamic state.
Today, Sudan's two most powerful leaders are President Bashir and Sheikh Hassan al-Turabi, who heads the National Islamic Front. Turabi, now 65, is a smooth, Western-trained ideologist of Sudan's Islamic counterreformation. He is man of brilliant intellect and ineffable charm; admired by many, and even more feared by some. He is at ease both in tie and turban, articulate in English and Arabic, and highly educated, with law degrees from universities in Khartoum, London, and Paris. As a lecturer at the University of Khartoum in the mid-1960's, he founded the Sudanese chapter of the Muslim brotherhood, currently known as the National Islamic Front.4
In the 1989 coup d'etat by middle-rank military officers, Islam rode to power, and Turabi, although holding no official post, became the director and architect of Sudan's Islamization. He says he turned to Islam because without it "Sudan has no identity, no direction".5 Sudan's twenty-seven million inhabitants speak one hundred different languages. They are divided into a multiplicity of ethnic groups and separated by regional and tribal loyalties. Most divisive of all, the population in the north of the country, where the majority resides, is culturally Arab, while the south shares the civilization of black Africa. It is not hard to understand why Turabi is looking for a unifying element, but is that element Islam? Turabi and his National Islamic Front think that Islam is the "cure" for Sudan's ills, and will be the catalyst to create a nation.
Turabi's vision extends beyond his borders. He sees Sudan as the heartland of an Islamic revolution which will sweep the Middle East, and he conceptualizes Sudanese security in terms of this revolution. Although he held no official position in the present government until this year, he always held more power than the president, ruling through shadow security forces and secret cells created by the NIF.
General Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, leader of the 1989 coup was the military connection to the successful coup. Although he is more than just a figurehead, he defers in many ways to Turabi. Bashir, known for his piety, can nevertheless be ruthless in fulfilling his Islamic objectives. Most importantly, he is not only the head of state, but the military leadership. As long as he can control the military, he controls the power base.
The Iran-Sudan Connection
Sudan is only the second country to declare itself an Islamic government, Iran being the first. Presumably both countries would be working towards a common goal...Islam. The reality is that Islam is a dichotomy, and the gap between the Sunni and the Shia spans the width of the Grand Canyon. Iran is predominantly Shia, which advocates radical fundamentalism; the spread of Islamic fundamentalism through violent means, at any cost. The Shia believe that only they know "Allah's will" and everyone else is an "infidel" or enemy of Islam. Of course, the Shia believe that infidels must be treated like vermin and exterminated. Sudan, which is predominantly Sunni, advocates a more "submissive" and relaxed brand of Islam. Sunni are no less devout than the Shia, but believe that Islam is the fountain of redemption and anyone who does not drink is termed a "nonbeliever." Nonbelievers are not necessarily Sunni enemies, but they must be shown the "true path"...the path of Islam. Sunni are much more tolerant and follow the real meaning of Islam, which is Arabic for "submissive." Muslim means "one who submits (to God)." The Sunni do not believe in the violent overthrow of existing governments, and believe in peaceful coexistance with other religions. Historically, the Sunni and Shia have been fervent enemies and have taken every opportunity to annihilate each other.
In 1991, for the first time in history, a minority Shia sect of Islam forged links with a Sunni Muslim government... the Iran-Sudan connection. Those ties sent shudders through the largely conservative Sunni Arab world.6 The Arab world sat up and took notice of this unlikely alliance and the implications for terrorism.
Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani accompanied by his Defense and Intelligence ministers and the commander of the Revolutionary Guard visited the Islamic regime in Khartoum in late 1991. A number of economic and military agreements were reached, including additional Revolutionary Guard personnel to train fundamentalist people's militias set up by Sudan's Islamic regime. Rumors abound of Syrians, Palestinians and Iranians infiltrating schools in northern Sudan to recruit students for terrorist training camps in eastern Sudan.7 Sudan claims that these camps were simply for its Popular Defense Forces, but Western Intelligence agents were convinced that the presence of Tehran's Revolutionary Guard indicated that far more insidious activities were on going.
This unholy alliance between Sunni and Shia did in fact share a common ideal, both regimes have a passionate disdain for neighboring secular states. "Now that Libya and Syria are attempting to curry favor in the West by cutting their support for terrorist groups, says Philip Robins, Middle East expert at London's Royal Institute of International Affairs, 'Sudan is the best ally Iran has got."8
The Iran-Sudan link is a marriage of convenience. Turabi dreams of spreading Islamic law far beyond his borders. Tehran sees Sudan, as a springboard into the Mideast and Africa. Sudan needed a patron willing to train and supply its military, as well as provide badly needed oil. Tehran needed another place to plant the seeds of radical Islamic fundamentalism.
The Iran-Sudan relationship flourished until early 1993. Besides the basic philosophical differences between the two sects, finances became an issue. Iran was supplying military hardware and training expertise, but not at the rate Sudan was expecting. Also, Sudan was displeased that Iran had forced the bankrupt regime to buy its oil at world market prices. Thus, Sudan began distancing itself from its sole patron and champion of absolutist Islam--the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Link To Terrorism
Sudan denies any connection or affiliation with terrorist training camps or with terrorist organizations. Turabi has specifically denied the allegations that Iranian Revolutionary Guards operate training camps in his country, and also denies that Sudan harbors members of Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Islamic "liberation" groups. There is however, ample evidence to refute Sudan's proclaimed innocence.
When Libya began shutting down some of its terrorist camps after the U.S. air strike in 1986, elements of the radical Palestinian Abu Nidal organization departed and surfaced in Sudan. British diplomats believe Sudan has also taken in many non-Iranian fundamentalists that Syria kicked out of Lebanon during the Gulf War. Hezbollah and the Palestinian movement Hamas both set up offices in Khartoum.
Western Intelligence agents confirmed the presence of Iranians associated with the Revolutionary Guard in Sudanese training camps. Although unconfirmed, there were rampant rumors of Syrians, Palestinians, and Iranians attempting to recruit students from schools in northern Sudan for terrorist training. Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, spiritual leader of the Egypt-based Islamic Group, some of whose members were convicted in the World Trade Center bombing, obtained his visa in Khartoum.
Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi Arabian stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994 for financing terrorism, took refuge in Sudan and became one of the most notorious patron's of Sudan's terrorist camps. From his base in Sudan, Bin Laden is known to have bankrolled Arab participation in the Afghan war and other militant causes.
U.S. Ambassador to Sudan, Donald Peterson says he's seen a compelling body of evidence indicting Sudan on terrorist charges, but can't divulge the full range of proof because of its sensitive nature.9
The U.S. ordered the expulsion of a Sudanese diplomat, Ahmed Yousif, suspected of aiding terrorists who plotted to blow up the UN and assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. U.S. officials had identified Yousif as being involved in terrorist and espionage activities.
Egyptian sources say Sudanese camps are training foreigners in terrorism. In December of 1995 they said there were about 20 camps, with trainers from Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Afghan veterans of the mujahadeen.
The student population is diverse. Trainees come from a few distant states and all the neighboring ones: Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Algeria, Tunisia and Uganda. The powerful Islamic extremist groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah have all sent members to Sudan for Training10
Despite the fact that Turabi denies that Sudan harbors members of terrorist groups, exisitng evidence indicates otherwise. A case in point, Judith Miller, a senior writer with the New York Times went to Sudan in the spring and summer of 1994 and personally interviewed members of Hezbollah, Hamas and other "liberation" groups. Her essay, "Faces of Fundamentaism" documents these interviews.11
Several events have also pointed the accusing finger at Sudan for complicity in terrorism. In June 1995, an attempted assassination plot against Egyptian President Mubarak was carried out in Ethiopia, where Mubarak was attending a meeting of the Organization for African Unity. Three suspects fled to Sudan following the failed attempt and Sudan has refused to extradite them to Ethiopia. Investigators soon discovered Sudanese complicity in the attack on President Mubarak.
The evidence is insurmountable, Sudan has not only provided a safe haven for terrorists, it has also facilitated in the training of these groups. Perhaps the most damaging evidence against Sudan is the fact that terrorists, such as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman used Sudan as a launch pad for terrorist actions.
The reaction by Sudan's neighbors to an Islamic government creating a safe haven for terrorists and training them with Iranian assistance was predictable, all of them proclaimed condemnation. However, when Sudan became the springboard for launching radical Islamic fundamentalism across its neighbor's borders, the game became much more personal and deadly.
Egypt, ever mindful of their dependency on the Nile, view the Sudan as their rightful hinterland and take a proprietorial interest in its affairs. Once the National Islamic Front (NIF) seized power, they promptly offered a home to Islamist insurrectionists from Upper Egypt and played host to radical Egyptian clerics such as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and Ayman Zaawahri (leader of the sect that assassinated Anwar Sadat). Mubarak recognized Sudan's ties with Iran, the terrorist training camps, and its affiliation with terrorist groups like the Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah. Mubarak played the political card and denounced these operations to the United Nations Security Council. He increased his anti-terrorism rhetoric against Sudan, and backed it up with increased military actions in the vicinity of northeast Sudan (the Habib Triangle).
After the June 1995 attempted assassination plot, most of the world was ready to support Egypt in punishing Sudan. Finally, in January 1996, the United Nations Security Council unequivocally and unanimously condemned Sudan for terrorist activity and involvement in the assassination attempt on Mubarak.
For now, Mubarak has ruled out war and has even excluded a punitive military strike. The reason for Egypt's restraint is the surprisingly complex relations between the two countries. Cairo has even attempted to dissuade fellow Security Council members from imposing sanctions on Sudan to protect an export market and to avoid reinforcing the legitimacy of existing sanctions on Iraq and Libya.12 Mubarak is frequently accused of indecision due to this conflict of policy goals. He is not prepared to simply turn the other cheek. In lieu of military action, Mubarak is gearing up Egyptian covert operations south of the border.13
In stark contrast to Egypt, Ethiopia's reaction has been confrontational. For years, Khartoum provided a haven for Eritrean rebels and Ethiopian dissidents whereas Addis Ababa lent bases and supplies to the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The fall of the Mengistu regime was a major victory for the NIF. Turabi switched to sowing radicalism among the Ormo, the Muslim ethnic group which comprises roughly half of Ethiopia's population. The NIF is allegedly supplying arms to the Oromo Liberation Front but this is difficult to confirm.
Ethiopia cannot tolerate a radicalized Ormo secession movement. President Ministe Meles Zenawi devised a two-pronged strategy for neutralizing the Sudanese threat, militarily and diplomatically. He has increased support for Sudanese guerrillas, including the SPLA. There is some truth to the rumors that Ethiopian troops fight alongside the SPLA. Although Ethiopian officials remain wedded to the notion of plausible deniability, informed sources confirm that Ethiopia is chest-deep in rebel operations.14
Zenawi is even more formidable as a diplomatic adversary. The attempted assassination of Mubarak was considered a humiliation and an outrage to the Ethiopian leader. The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry unleashed a barrage of diplomatic and media initiatives against Sudan and proved particularly adept at outmaneuvering Khartoum in the Organization of African Unity. Zenawi's determination offset Mubarak's hesitancy and gave the UNSC the ammunition it needed to make sanctions credible.
The NIF was also supporting an Islamic faction in Eritrea, the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF). The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) however, won control of newly independent Eritrea and isolated the ELF. Relations between Asmara and Khartoum were therefore cool.
Eritrea is reluctant to accept ELF refugees, who fled to Sudan to avoid the violent battles for independence during the civil war in Ethiopia. The ELF refugees want to return to Eritrea, but Eritrea is reluctant for fear they will bring Turabi's Islamist agenda with them. Paradoxically, Eritrea's hesitancy has served to radicalize the refugee communities, providing Turabi with an incubation ground for the extremist Eritrean Islamic Jihad (EIJ).
After protests regarding the EIJ went unheeded, Eritrean President Issais Afwerkis severed diplomatic relations with Sudan in December 1994. He then attempted to heal some of the rifts in the Sudanese opposition. His initiative produced the Sudanese National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the first umbrella group to successfully unite Sudan's leading opposition parties.
Within days of the NDA's conference in Asmara in January 1996, President Afwerkis pledged sweeping military support to its military wing the National Alliance Forces (NAF). The NAF remains a paper force at present but the Eritreans are serious about giving it teeth.
Uganda has depended upon Sudan's civil war to keep its northern neighbor preoccupied. The NIF actively supported an unlikely surrogate--an extremist Christian faction known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Uganda President Museveni broke off relations in April 1995, after the NIF refused to curtail its support to the LRA. Sudan was undeterred.
Consequently, Museveni has stepped up support for the SPLA, led by John Garang. Much of the credit for the SPLA successes must go to Ugandan support. President Museveni has made no secret of the fact that he wants to see an independent southern Sudan act as a buffer between Uganda and Arab North Africa and, in December 1995, threatened direct military action unless Sudan discontinued its support of the LRA.
Sudan and Libya appear to enjoy a confluence of interests: they are both on the wrong end of UN resolutions, they both reject the Middle East peace process, and they both dabble in terrorism.15 Libya supplied Sudan with arms for a short time after the NIF came to power. Libyan pilots also flew bombing missions against the Sudanese rebels in the south. In return, Sudan allowed Libyan operatives to conspire against Hissein Habre in Chad, who they managed to replace with the more acceptable Idris Deby in 1990. Ghadaffi's interest in Sudan dwindled after Deby took power, but both leaders continued to express token solidarity with the other.
Credible reports indicate that Libyan authorities unearthed an NIF-backed extremist cell shortly after the Mubarak incident. Thousands of Sudanese workers were expelled a few weeks later. To placate Ghadaffi, Sudan repatriated four Libyan Islamists to the authorities in Benghazi last October.
For now, Libya is content to let Sudan take the UN heat and feels no need to take direct measures against Khartoum. This may change if Ghadaffi's burgeoning Islamist opposition gets out of hand.
The United States reacted to Sudan's terrorist training camps and affiliations with subversive groups by adding Sudan to the list of State sponsored terrorists in 1993. Since the attempted assassination of President Mubarak, the U.S. has ordered all its diplomats out of Sudan. The U.S. cited vulnerability to terrorist attack and Khartoum's refusal to guarantee its 25 diplomats safety as reasons for the pull-out. The U.S. did not play this as a break in diplomatic relations, however, this maneuver had more to do with politics than security. Even after the U.S. bombed Tripoli in April 1986, when a U.S. diplomat was shot in the head and Libyan--backed troops had plans to attack U.S. and British targets, Washington only removed "non-essential" employees from its embassy. The U.S. is saying it will not return "for the foreseeable future". It looks like the U.S. will await a change in government.
The U.S. has been vocal and active in attempting to convince fellow members of the UNSC to impose sanctions on Sudan. These efforts however, have met with little success predominantly due to Egypt's reluctance.
In Sudan, the administration has tried the good cop--bad cop routine; they have tired to get President Bashir to stop Islamic extremists from using his country as a haven and staging center by promising better relations, which did not work, and then by threatening strict UN sanctions. Since the diplomatic tactic is not working, the U.S. has tried a much more direct approach in dealing with Sudanese indiscretions.
The U.S. is sending nearly twenty million dollars in surplus U.S. military equipment to Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Uganda. These three countries support Sudanese opposition groups, who are preparing a joint offensive to topple the Khartoum government.
U.S. officials said all of the military aid is non-lethal and defensive, and includes radios, uniforms, boots and tents. But Congressional and Pentagon sources said this could be expanded to include rifles and other weapons.16
Sudan's Reaction to the Threat of UN Sanctions
The United Nations Security Council's 31 January condemnation called on Sudan to extradite the three men who attempted to assassinate Egyptian President Mubarak. It also called on Sudan to desist from activities of assisting, supporting and facilitating terrorist activities and from giving shelter/sanctuaries to terrorist elements.17
Sudan has twice taken limited steps against terrorist groups in response to Western pressure. In 1994, it expelled to France the notorious terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, and in the fall of 1995, faced with charges of involvement in the attempt against the Egyptian President, the government said it would end a policy that allowed all Arab passport holders to enter the country without visas, and it dismissed its external intelligence chief, Nafi al-Nafi.
The Sudanese government tried to put on a cooperative public face following the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Mubarak, going as far as to publish newspaper notices appealing to citizens to assist in handing over the suspects wanted in the attempt to kill Mr. Mubarak.
The Washington Post (August 18, 1996) reported that Lebanon has become a haven for Islamic extremists previously based in Sudan, where the fundamentalist government has yielded to heavy pressure to halt backing for such groups. The Sudanese government announced that Osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi financier of terrorism departed Sudan in February of 1996.
U.S. pressure so far has resulted in the expulsion of some extremists and closing of some camps. But U.S. officials are skeptical of those gestures and characterize them as "cosmetic" or "tactical", taken to avoid further UN sanctions.18
Egyptian authorities say the Bashir regime has simply reorganized the "closed camps" into smaller, mobile centers to avoid detection by overhead U.S. reconnaissance satellites. Despite the PR campaign they've been launching lately, they are still receiving terrorists, arming them and providing them with forged travel documents.19
Sudan has taken some cosmetic steps to reduce the political and diplomatic pressure being exerted upon it. The Islamic government sacrificed a few lambs to convince the world that it was conforming to the UNSC's threat of sanctions. But the bottom line is Sudan is still a safe haven and involved with the training of terrorists.
Why did Sudan become involved in this surrogate warfare? One need not look farther than the NIF's architect and guru, Hassan al-Turabi. It was his vision to convert the world to Islam, and he was going to start with the Horn of Africa. His association with the radical Shia sect from Iran was the catalyst that produced an exporter of terrorism. This was fitted nicely with Iran's strategy of spreading radical Islamic fundamentalism. This was truly a symbiotic relationship, Sudan needed arms, training, and a patron; Iran needed a springboard for the spread of radical Islamic fundamentalism.
It is the author's opinion that Sudan eagerly engaged in this relationship with Iran and was quite willing to be the "new terrorist center," after all who would bother with a disheveled third world country like Sudan? Turabi thought he would be able to do whatever he wanted to destabilize the Horn of Africa and no one would notice or care. Once this miscalculation surfaced, it was too late. The Sudanese government had lost control and their open door policy to Arabs took on a life of its own. They could not temper the beast they so wantingly created, and were forced to distance themselves from their patron (Iran) in order to regain some control.
The Islamic government of Sudan is in a perilous situation. The civil war continues to drain what little resources the country can bring to bear. Sudan has the majority of its neighbors joining in the attempt to see its demise. Sudanese opposition groups are slowly attempting to join forces, and should they succeed, it may be over for the Islamic regime. Compounding the problem is the steady increase of internal opposition: student demonstrations, riots, troop mutinies, attempted coups, and worsening human--rights abuses.
Sudan's suffering might carry the seeds of political realism for North Africa and the Middle East. Militant Islam, like Arab nationalism, cannot deliver what it promises. Just as communism could not deliver what it promised, and eventually imploded...so to will militant Islam.
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