THE SUDAN: A NEW HAVEN FOR TERRORISTS AND EXTREMISTS IN AFRICA? -- (BY DAVID IGNATIUS) (Extension of Remarks - February 05, 1992)
HON. WM. S. BROOMFIELD
in the House of Representatives
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1992
- Mr. BROOMFIELD. Mr. Speaker, I am deeply concerned about recent reports that the Sudan is becoming a new beachhead for terrorists and fundamentalist radicals in Africa. I urge the administration to step up its efforts to dissuade the Sudanese Government from pursuing this unwise and dangerous policy. Should the Sudan ignore our warnings, it may be time to formally label that country as a terrorist state.
- Recent reports reveal that the fundamentalist government of General al-Bashir is cooperating with Iran in an effort to make the Sudan a base for Islamic radicalism and terrorism in Africa. The Sudanese Government already supports fundamentalist groups in North Africa and now, with the arrival in Khartoum of terrorist groups, including the notorious Abu Nidal organization and Hezbollah, it appears to be blending Islamic fundamentalism with Palestinian radicalism.
- Should Sudanese officials continue this policy, and if all these reports can be confirmed, I urge the administration to formally add the Sudan to the list of states that actively support terrorism.
[FROM THE WASHINGTON POST, JAN. 31, 1992]
(BY DAVID IGNATIUS)
- I commend the following Washington Post article on the Sudan to my colleagues in the Congress.
- U.S. officials fear that Sudan, backed by money and expertise from Iran, is emerging as `a new Lebanon' from which terrorist groups can launch operations and export Islamic revolution across Africa.
- Sudan `is absolutely the place to watch,' said one U.S. anti-terrorism official in an interview yesterday. The official said the Iranians have spent between $10 million and $20 million to help establish a beachhead for Islamic radicalism in Khartoum. The Iranians also are believed to have sent members of the Revolutionary Guards to Sudan to help train their new allies.
- Another troubling sign, according to U.S. officials, is that the Iranians have named Majid Kamal, who previously served in Beirut, as their charge d'affaires in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. A U.S. official alleged that while Kamal was the Iranian charge in Lebanon during the early 1980s he encouraged the creation of the radical Hezbollah group, which was widely identified with the kidnapping of Americans and other terrorist acts in Lebanon.
- `The Iranians have a dangerous program' in Sudan, said the U.S. official. `It's vast. The target is not just the north--Egypt and North Africa--but also the south, into [sub-Saharan] Africa, with the creation of Islamic states being the goal.'
- U.S. officials said they also have evidence that some of the leading Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist groups are now operating in Sudan. These groups include the Abu Nidal Organization; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine--General Command, headed by Ahmed Jibril; the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine; and the Lebanese Shiite group, Hezbollah.
- Sudan's deepening ties with Iran reflect the new political dominance in Khartoum of the National Islamic Front, headed by Hassan Turabi. Although Sudan nominally is governed by a military junta, the real power increasingly belongs to Turabi, an articulate, Western-educated lawyer, who quietly has been transforming Sudan into an Islamic state.
Because of mounting concern about developments in Sudan, the Bush administration sent a warning to Khartoum in early December, carried by Robert G. Houdek, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
Houdek `raised our concerns about the increasing numbers of people [in Sudan] from organizations that we considered to be terrorist,' said a State Department official. In some cases, Houdek told the Sudanese, these terrorist groups `seemed to be opening offices; in some cases, training camps.'
The U.S. envoy warned Sudanese officials that if terrorist operations could be traced to groups operating from bases there, Sudan would be placed on the U.S. list of nations that sponsor terrorism, which would carry diplomatic and economic sanctions.
The Sudanese told Houdek they do not support terrorism and will not allow terrorists to operate from their territory. Houdek's final warning, according to the State Department official, was: `Be careful. These people can violate your hospitality.'
Egypt shares U.S. concerns about recent developments to its south. The Egyptian press has noted in recent months that the man who in October 1990 assassinated Rifaat Mahgoub, the speaker of the Egyptian parliament, was trained in Khartoum. And the Egyptian government was upset when the leader of the Egyptian branch of Islamic Jihad, Omar Abdel-Rahman, was given sanctuary in Khartoum about 18 months ago.
What worries U.S. and allied officials is the possibility that Sudan may take the place of other nations--such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Lebanon--that sponsored terrorist groups in the 1980s but have appeared in recent months to be trying to mend fences with the West. This new caution reflects their calculus, following the display of U.S. firepower in the Persian Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, that open confrontation with the United States is not prudent.
Iran also has taken a more pragmatic course in its foreign and domestic policy under President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. But U.S. analysts pointed to a visit by Rafsanjani last month to Khartoum as a sign that Iran has not lost its desire to spread militant Islam outside its borders.
Tehran's new goal appears to be fusion of the two militant forces in the Arab world--Palestinian radicalism and Islamic fundamentalism. The Iranians accelerated this effort last October with a conference of militant groups in Tehran. According to a U.S. analyst, `I stressed two themes: Islamic revolution and undermining the [Middle East] peace process.
`Iran has tried in the past to export revolution,' said a U.S. official, `but Sudan is the first place where they have had a regime that's a willing supporter.' Sudanese sympathy for radical Islam stems in part from Turabi's popularity and the fact that `years of war and the downward economic spiral have radicalized the northern Muslim population,' the U.S. anti-terrorism official said.