7 August 1998
badly damage the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Hundreds of people, twelve of whom American, are killed in
7 August 1998 The Sudanese government
immediately condemns the embassy bombings, stating: "These
criminal acts of violence do not lead to any goal"
11 August 1998 The Sudanese government
states that: "We must pool our efforts to eradicate
all the causes of terrorism" and called for: "the
solidarity and cooperation of all the nations in the region
and the international community to stand up to international
terrorism." The Sudanese government offered to help
in tracking down the terrorists involved, stating: "Sudan
supports Kenya in its efforts to reach the people who committed
the incident and is prepared to cooperate fully with it
in this regard."
20 August 1998 The United States
government, having claimed that Osama bin-Laden was behind
the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, launched military attacks,
involving 75 Cruise missiles, on installations said to be
part of bin-Laden's infrastructure inside Afghanistan. Washington
also chose to attack the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory
in northern Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, alleging that
it was making chemical weapons as part of Osama bin-Laden's
infrastructure of international terrorism. The al-Shifa
plant was totally destroyed in the American attack. Twelve
workers were killed in the attack.
20 August 1998 In the news briefing
given by United States Defence Secretary, William Cohen,
on 20 August, he stated that the al-Shifa factory "produced
the precursor chemicals that would allow the production
of.VX nerve agent". Secretary Cohen also stated that
Osama bin-Laden "has had some financial interest in
contributing to.this particular facility". The American
government said that it "could find no evidence of"
the production of medicines at the al-Shifa factory, and
that it was a thinly disguised nerve gas plant. It was also
claimed that the al-Shifa facility was heavily guarded and
patrolled by the Sudanese military.
20 August 1998 Almost immediately
after the American attack the Sudanese government condemned
the attack, calling it "a criminal act" against
Sudan. The Sudanese President, Omer al-Bashir, said that
Sudan would be bring an official complaint about the American
action before the United Nations Security Council and that
the Sudanese government would also ask the United Nations
to establish "a commission to verify the nature of
the activity of the plant." President Bashir flatly
denied American claims that the al-Shifa plant was being
used to make chemical weapons. He accused President Clinton
Putting out lies is not new for the United States and
its president. A person of such immorality will not hesitate
to tell any lie.
20 August 1998 The German ambassador
to Sudan, Werner Daum, immediately challenged United States
claims about the factory. In a communication to the German
foreign ministry written within hours of the attack he stated
that the factory had no disguise and there was nothing secret
about the site, and reported: "One can't, even if one
wants to, describe the Shifa firm as a chemical factory."
21 August 1998 British prime
minister Tony Blair gives his support to the American missile
strikes: "I strongly support this American action against
21 August 1998 Ewan Buchanan,
spokesman for the United Nations Special Commission, a body
in charge of disarming Iraq of all nuclear, chemical, biological
and ballistic missile systems, stated in connection with
American claims of chemical warfare links between Sudan
and Iraq that:
We have heard lots of claims like these and there are
various reports about cooperation between Iraq and Sudan,
but we have been unable to confirm it ourselves.
21 August 1998 Tony Benn MP,
a former Cabinet member and long-standing pacifist, wrote
to the British Foreign Secretary to ask: "Would an
attack of this kind, in which innocent civilians may be
killed or injured, be covered by the proposed International
War Crimes Tribunal to which the government is committed?"
22 August 1998 In its official
complaint to the United Nations Security Council, the Sudanese
government condemned the American attack on the factory,
stating that the factory was privately owned and produced
more than half of Sudan's need for medicines. Sudan requested
the convening of the Security Council to discuss the matter,
and also requested a technical fact-finding mission to verify
American claims. The Sudanese government stated:
The allegations in U.S. statements that Osama bin-Laden
owned this factory and that it produced chemical weapons
and poisonous gases for terrorist purposes are allegations
devoid of truth and the U.S. government has no evidence
for this.The behaviour of the U.S. government.represents
grave conduct and a flagrant transgression of the U.N.
system and the U.N. Charter. It takes the contemporary
world back to the law of the jungle, where force alone
rules and where each state takes the law into its own
hands, a situation which would definitely threaten international
security and peace.
22 August 1998 The Sudanese president
invited the United States Congress to send a fact-finding
22 August 1998 Tom Carnaffin,
a British engineer who had helped to build and equip the
al-Shifa factory, and who had worked there as a technical
manager for four years, challenged American claims that
it could have been used to manufacture chemical weapons:
"I have intimate knowledge of that factory and it just
does not lend itself to the manufacture of chemical weapons."
22 August 1998 British businessman
Peter Cockburn also publicly contradicted the American claims:
"I was courteously received and shown round every area
in March (1998). I recognised it as a normal factory for
the production of simple pharmaceutical products - syrups
for humans, powders for goats and camels. Just who are the
terrorists in this case, and why is the British Government
supporting acts of incomprehensible barbarity?
22 August 1998 Three Jordanian
engineers who had assisted with the construction of the
factory, and who supervised production at the plant, also
denied the factory had any chemical weapons capability.
One of the engineers, Mohammed Abul Waheed, said that: "The
factory was designed to produce medicine and it would be
impossible to convert it to make anything else."
23 August 1998 The British Sunday
newspaper, The Observer, stated that President Clinton
had "bombed civilians on purpose" and that "American
tests showed no trace of nerve gas at 'deadly' Sudan plant.
The President ordered the attack anyway". The newspaper
reported that the American military had flown high-tech
missions over the factory and had been unable to find nerve
gas traces. The Observer newspaper describes al-Shifa
as "The 'secret' chemical factory that no one tried
to hide", and stated that the al-Shifa plant: "certainly
did not try to hide its existence. Signs in plenty direct
you to it long before you get there."
23 August 1998 The League of
Arab States, made up of 22 Arab countries, condemned the
United States missile strike on Sudan, calling the attack
"a blatant violation" of the Charter of the U.N.
23 August 1998 The Organisation
of the Islamic Conference, a pan-Islamic organisation representing
Islamic countries condemned the American missile strike
23 August 1998 Irwin Armstrong,
a British film journalist, who had visited, filmed and photographed
the plant in August 1997, publicly challenged the American
claims. He said that the al-Shifa factory was fully open
to inspection, and that there were none of the restricted
areas and special protections that one would associate with
a military function: "The Americans have got this completely
wrong. In other parts of the country I encountered heavy
security but not here. I was allowed to wander about quite
freely. This is a perfectly normal chemical factory with
the things you would expect - stainless steel vats and technicians.
23 August 1998 Ghazi Suleiman,
the lawyer, and leading opponent of the Sudanese government,
representing Salah Idris, the owner of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical
factory denied that the factory had any links to Osama bin-Laden,
and stated that the factory produced only drugs, not chemical
weapons: "I think the Americans are under bad information
and they are not well briefed"
He stated that the factory had employed
three hundred workers, supporting some three thousand people.
Mr Suleiman said that the factory produced 60 percent of
Sudan's pharmaceutical drugs, including antibiotics, malaria
tablets and syrups, as well as drugs for diabetes, ulcers,
tuberculosis, rheumatism and hypertension. The factory's
components had been imported from the United States, Sweden,
Italy, Switzerland, Germany, India and Thailand.
24 August 1998 Associated Press
reported that: "There are no signs of secrecy at the
plant. Two prominent signs along the road point to the factory,
and foreigners have been allowed to visit the site at all
24 August 1998 Journalists from
around the world continue to flood into Khartoum. CNN's
Mike Hanna reported that the Sudanese government:
have been giving the media here every access to the
site. They brought in a mobile crane on this day to allow
elevated shots to be taken of the missile site. Certainly,
the Sudanese government is going out of its way to insist
that it has nothing to hide, and it continues to call
for that international investigation team to come inspect
this missile site, and determine, once and for all, exactly
what was produced here.
24 August 1998 The Guardian
journalist David Hirst reported that:
There was precious little sign of anything sinister
when foreign journalists go to the controversial chemical
plant which the American cruise missiles hit. No sign,
anyway, that anyone had been trying to hide anything,
or planned to do so. Access was easy. I simply said I
was a journalist, and was invited to go around as I pleased
- provided I did not disturb anything. Everything had
to be left in place.
24 August 1998 The Economist
also visited the scene of the American missile attack, and
reported the following:
Given free access to the site, your correspondent spent
more than two hours clambering over - and under - the
smoking ruins and found nothing to suggest that it was
anything but a plant producing medicines for humans and
veterinary drugs for animals. There was no sign of the
hidden laboratories or storage rooms underground which
some had darkly hinted at.
24 August 1998 In its investigations
of the ownership of the factory CNN reported that:
The Sudanese government says that this plant is privately
owned. It produced ownership papers of the individuals
who actually own this plant. It is part of private ownership.
The government, itself, has nothing to do with this plant.
24 August 1998 President Bashir
stated that Sudan was critical of the United States government,
and not American companies or citizens: "We have no
animosity towards the American people and non-government
24 August 1998 The Sudanese president
accused the American President Bill Clinton of being "a
war criminal of the first degree" for its attack on
the al-Shifa factory, stating that if the United States
truly believed it had been a chemical weapons installation
then bombing it would have endangered thousands of civilians.
24 August 1998 The United Nations
Security Council, under pressure from the United States,
postponed a decision on whether or not to send a verification
mission. The United States deputy ambassador to the United
Nations, Peter Burleigh, dismissed Sudanese calls for independent
verification of the site: "I don't see what the purpose
of the fact-finding study would be. We have credible information
that fully justifies the strike we made on that one facility
24 August 1998 The White House
press spokesman, Mike McCurry, refused to identify the alleged
compound that the American government claimed was its "physical
evidence", stating: "The nature of that information
is classified now."
24 August 1998 Donald Anderson
MP, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the
British House of Commons, asked for clear evidence to be
made available to the British parliament: "Since the
Government went out on a limb in supporting the US action
it is surely reasonable that the evidence should be passed
to us. That has not yet been done."
24 August 1998 The British government's
support for the American claim of "self-defence"
in its missile attack on the al-Shifa factory was challenged
by Professor Chris Brown, of the University of Southampton,
who stated that:
The self-defence provisions of the UN Charter are clearly
designed to cover circumstances in which it is impossible
or unfeasible to refer an act of aggression to the Security
Council; for example, in 1990, the Kuwaiti government
obviously did not need the permission of the UN to respond
forcibly to the Iraqi invasion of their country. Article
51 could also be used to legitimate action if the Security
Council is unwilling or unable to act, or in the face
of an immediate threat, when delay could bring disaster.
None of this applies to the bombing of a chemicals factory
or a training camp. Not only was this an illegal act,
it was politically stupid, drawing world attention away
from the killing of so many innocents in Kenya and Tanzania.
25 August 1998 The Washington
Post reported that visiting reporters from American,
British, French, German, Japanese and Arab media outlets
were "picking through the rubble".
25 August 1998 President Clinton's
National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, went on record
as stating that:
There is no question in our mind that facility, that
factory, was used to produce a chemical that is used in
the manufacture of VX nerve gas and has no other commercial
distribution as far as we understand. We have physical
evidence of that fact and very, very little doubt of it.
25 August 1998 The New York
Times voiced continuing concerns about the American
Despite the Administration's offer of details about
its evidence, there were still unanswered questions. The
soil sample, which presumably measured either a spill
or airborne particulars, did not prove that it was the
pharmaceutical plant that produced the chemical, Empta.
25 August 1998 The Sudanese government
had itself declared that it was unsatisfied with the American
claims to have a soil sample. The Sudanese information minister,
Dr Ghazi Saleheddin, stated:
They have not produced any convincing evidence. We
have to be satisfied that the United States is not making
this up. It's not enough to produce soil which could have
been made up in the United States itself, and to claim
that the soil contains toxic agents. For a factory to
produce toxic agents, you need special facilities, special
preparations, special storage areas and preparations facilities.
You can't keep things to yourself and keep claiming you
have the final proof without allowing people to verify
25 August 1998 A United States
intelligence official, giving an official briefing to the
media on the American missile strikes admitted that the
ties between bin-Laden and the al-Shifa factory were "fuzzy".
On the same day, Reuters reported that a United States intelligence
official had said that he: "could not confirm any direct
financial link between Bin Laden and the plant."
25 August 1998 The United States
ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, admitted
that the American government had not presented its evidence
in support of its attack on the al-Shifa plant to the United
Nations Security Council, but that it had been shown to
United States congressional leaders. Richardson stated that
"We believe that is sufficient".
25 August 1998 The Sudanese government
declared its intention to bring the al-Shifa incident before
the International Court of Justice in The Hague: "As
Sudan respects the law and loves peace, it asks of the US
administration to consent to this proposal of taking the
dispute to the court of justice."
25 August 1998 Bekheit Abdallah
Yagoub, the deputy commissioner of the Sudanese Human Aid
Commission, said the factory supplied 70 percent of the
drug needs of southern, eastern and western Sudan, areas
wracked by famine and disease.
25 August 1998 The Sudanese government
make public the fact that al-Shifa plant had been in the
process of filling a United Nations-approved contract to
provide Iraq with $200,000 worth of 'Shifzole 2.5 percent
(Albndazole 2.5 percent for Levamisole)', a deworming drug
for animals. The U.N.'s Iraqi sanctions committee had approved
the contract in January 1998 as part of the "oil for
25 August 1998 Associated Press
reported on a change in the American approach: "Intelligence
officials are leaning toward the theory that Iraq was spreading
its knowledge of chemical weapons production to other Muslim
25 August 1998 In an open letter
to the British Prime Minister, the London-based Sudan Foundation,
quoted an earlier White House statement made on 17 February,
and carried by Reuters, that "We have no credible evidence
that Iraq has exported weapons of mass destruction technology
to other countries since the Gulf War".
26 August 1998 The export manager
of the al-Shifa factory, Alamaddin al-Shibli, challenged
the American claim to have obtained a soil sample: "There's
no way to take a sample of soil from this factory, according
to the construction of this factory. It's either concrete
or cement or carpet."
26 August 1998 The American ABC
News has echoed Sudanese concerns about the possible humanitarian
ramifications had American government claims been accurate:
"Another murky point is to what extent the U.S. was
concerned about unleashing a potentially toxic cloud of
nerve agent when it bombed the plant."
26 August 1998 Under intense
international and national pressure to identify the compound
the American government claimed to be its conclusive evidence
for VX nerve gas production at the al-Shifa plant, the American
Under Secretary of State, Mr Thomas Pickering, briefed journalists
on the physical evidence held by the United States government:
The physical evidence is a soil sample, analysis of
it shows the presence of a chemical whose simple name
is EMPTA, a known precursor for the nerve agent VX..We
think that it was this evidence, and evidence like it,
which made our decision to carry out this strike on this
particular target the correct and proper decision under
An American intelligence official stated
in briefing journalists that:
It is a substance that has no commercial applications,
it doesn't occur naturally in the environment, it's not
a by-product of any other chemical process. The only thing
you can use it for, that we know of, is to make VX.
26 August 1998 There also appeared
to be confusion in the official American government claims
about the Empta compound. The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency stated that Empta was listed as a so-called Schedule
1 chemical - an immediate chemical weapons precursor with
no recognised commercial use - by the Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The U.S. Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency then changed its public stance within
a matter of hours, after OPCW officials said that Empta
could have commercial uses. Contradicting American government
claims, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons said that the organisation classifies Empta on its
Schedule 2b of compounds that could be used to make chemical
weapons but which also have commercial uses. The OPCW said
that Empta is identified with a process to make plastics
flexible and also with some fungicides and anti-microbial
26 August 1998 Professor R J
P Williams FRS, at Oxford University's Inorganic Chemistry
Laboratory, directly challenged the American claims about
Types of the compound.an ethyl-methyl-phosphorus derivative,
can be bought on the open market. If every laboratory
which has such a chemical is to be bombed, then it is
goodbye to many chemistry departments in UK, USA and all
over the world.The public must know the facts about the
chemicals concerned in order to feel sure that terrorist
targets were attacked and not innocent parties. People
world-wide will support the effort to eliminate terrorists,
but not just random reprisal raids, just to show the ability
to strike anybody, anywhere. The USA must come clean,
as must our government.
26 August 1998 The Independent
newspaper reported that American government claims about
Empta had been challenged by chemical warfare specialists:
"Chemical weapons experts believe the evidence presented
so far is not strong enough. They point out that key components
of chemical weapons have "dual use" and are also
used in medicines, even bubble bath and shampoo."
26 August 1998 The Washington
Post reported in relation to earlier American claims
of a financial link between al-Shifa and Osama bin-Laden,
that: "U.S. officials began pulling back from directly
linking bin Laden to El Shifa Pharmaceutical. Instead, they
said that his link was to the Sudanese military industrial
complex - and that the Sudanese military was, in turn, linked
to the VX precursor at El Shifa."
26 August 1998 ABC News reported
that the United States administration was itself unsure
of its claims:
Now, U.S. officials say they do not know with certainty
whether the VX precursor was manufactured at the plant,
was stored there, or may have represented a small quantity
of research and development material.
26 August 1998 The Financial
Times interviewed a European diplomat in Khartoum who
said in connection with the missile strike that:
On the basis of what we know of the factory and the
evidence we have been given by the US so far, there is
no reason to believe that the US knew what was going on
inside that factory, other than with regard to its function
as a major supplier of pharmaceuticals. Nor is there any
evidence that the factory had links with bin Laden. This
robust support by other governments for the US action
was frankly very stupid.
27 August 1998 The New York
Times challenged the American government's claim that
Empta had no commercial applications: "The chemical
precursor of a nerve agent that Washington claimed was made
at a Sudanese chemical factory it destroyed in a missile
attack last week could be used for commercial products."
The New York Times cited the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as stating that the chemical
could be used "in limited quantities for legitimate
commercial purposes". These purposes could be use in
fungicides, and anti-microbial agents. The New York Times
also interviewed an official with the chemical weapons organisation
in the Hague who said that research also suggested that
Empta could be the by-product of the breakdown of other
pesticides. The official also stated that companies such
as Mobil and International Chemical Industries of America
had researched commercial applications using Empta.
27 August 1998 Thomas Carnaffin,
the British engineer who worked at the factory for several
years up until April 1998, said that he had been "into
every corner of the plant": "It was never a plant
of high security. You could walk around anywhere you liked,
and no one tried to stop you."
27 August 1998 Andrew Mackinlay,
a member of the foreign affairs committee, stated that British
support for the strike: "appears to run counter to
the government's ethical foreign policy."
27 August 1998 The United States
government eventually conceded that the al-Shifa factory
had in fact been commercially producing medicines and drugs.
State Department spokesman James Foley admitted, for example:
"That facility may very well have been producing pharmaceuticals."
27 August 1998 The Guardian
newpaper interviewed a European diplomat in Khartoum who
questioned present and previous American claims about Sudan:
So far as we know the US has never formally accused
Sudan of trying to produce chemical weapons, but it has
accused it of harbouring international terrorists. Why
on earth did it not hit those - as it did in Afghanistan?.Perhaps
it didn't because, in reality, there are no such bases.
27 August 1998 The Guardian,
reporting from Khartoum, stated that "most European
diplomats here are as aghast at the raid, and above all
the choice of target, as they (the Sudanese government)
are". The paper interviewed a senior European diplomat
who said that: "There was absolutely nothing secret
about the plant and there never has been."
27 August 1998 The Financial
Times, in reporting on British reaction to the American
attack, and Tony Blair's uncritical support for the strike
on Khartoum, stated that:
The UK Foreign Office is increasingly concerned that
the US last week bombed an innocent target when destroying
a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. Senior officials believe
Tony Blair, prime minister, was too hasty in backing President
Bill Clinton's strike on the plant in Khartoum.
The newspaper quoted a foreign office official
as saying that the Prime Minister's support for President
Clinton's attack was "knee jerk and a bit obtuse".
28 August 1998 Concerns were
raised by chemical weapons experts. Jonathan Tucker, of
the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey
Institute of International Studies, voiced concern about
the soil sample: "There are a lot of questions about
the soil sample: Where was it taken? Who took it?".
He also queried "the chain of custody" and asked
if it had been ensured that the soil sample had not been
contaminated. All in all, he stated: "it's a bit of
a dilemma in terms of the credibility of the U.S. case."
28 August 1998 The Guardian
reports that: "Several American experts in chemical
warfare say there is an agricultural insecticide, with similar
properties, that can be easily mistaken for Empta."
The Guardian also reported that: "a search of
scientific papers showed that it could be used in a variety
28 August 1998 Just over a week
after the destruction of the al-Shifa factory, a United
States Defence Department spokesman stated in relation to
the plant: "There may have been better places to go.
That doesn't mean it was the wrong place to go."
28 August 1998 The Guardian
reported on new allegations that the American government
were using to justify the al-Shifa strike: "President
Clinton's decision to launch the strikes was at least partly
influenced by reports that intelligence officers had intercepted
phone calls between scientists at the factory and top officials
in Iraq's chemical weapons programme."
28 August 1998 Interviewed by
The Chicago Tribune, Thomas Carnaffin, one of the
men who built the plant, further stated that:
It was a very simple mixing, blending and dispensing
pharmaceutical facility. It wasn't a large plant. Part
of it was used to make veterinary medicines and ointments
and part for human medicines. There was never anything
like that (making precursors). It was a very open situation.
Many people from different countries visited the factory.
It would have been a very difficult thing to do (making
precursors). That wasn't the intent of the factory at
29 August 1998 The Times
confirmed that the Clinton Administration had conceded the
al-Shifa factory was a commercial producer of drugs: "Now
they admit it made 60 percent of Sudan's medicine."
29 August 1998 Andrew Mackinlay
MP publicly called for evidence from the United States and
British governments for the bombing of the al-Shifa plant:
There hasn't been any real indication as to what grounds
there were for attacking what we are told was a pharmaceutical
plant. Therefore I think there is a burden on both the
US, and the UK Government, if they are going to support
the US, to show parliament and the people why there has
been this heightening of what is a very dangerous situation.
30 August 1998 After just over
one week of sifting through American government claims,
The Observer spoke of "a catalogue of US misinformation,
glaring omissions and intelligence errors about the function
of the plant." The Observer has reported that:
US credibility has been further dented by Western scientists
who have pointed out that the same ingredients are used
for chemical weapons and beer, and that mustard gas is
similar in make-up to the anti-clogging agent in biro
ink. It has also been pointed out that the cherry flavouring
in sweets is one of the constituent parts of the gas used
in combat. Empta also has commercial uses not linked to
30 August 1998 The factory's
American designer, Henry Jobe, of the MSD Pharmaceutical
Company, denied American government claims: "We didn't
intend a dual use for it. We didn't design anything extra
in there. The design we made was for pharmaceuticals."
He also flat contradicted American claims that the factory
was not a commercial enterprise, and that nothing had ever
been sold out of the factory: "That is misinformation,
because it was designed for it."
30 August 1998 The Sudanese government
reiterated the need for a fact-finding mission to visit
the factory and investigate allegations that it was producing
We want a fact-finding mission to come from the U.S.
Administration, to come from the U.S. congress, to come
from a neutral responsible person like (former President)
Jimmy Carter or (U.S. civil rights leader) Jesse Jackson,
to come from the Security Council. It is not difficult
to investigate. The factory is there, it has been closed
from the day it was bombarded.
30 August 1998 One week after
the American attack on the al-Shifa factory, despite numerous
international calls for an independent enquiry into the
incident, American ambassador to the United Nations Bill
Richardson was still saying: "We don't think an investigation
is needed. We don't think anything need to be put to rest."
30 August 1998 The Observer
that American intelligence sources were moving to "less
and less credible positions".