Date of Publication: 14 September 2001



Whilst all normal people were still reeling from the devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, it is sad to note that some sought to exploit this tragedy for their own partisan purposes.

On Wednesday, 12 September, at 09:25, less than 24 hours after the horrific terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Dr Eric Reeves, an anti-Sudan activist within the United States, saw fit to distribute a posting entitled 'Sudan, Osama bin Laden, and Terrorism'. Such a blatant attempt to capitalise out of such a horrendous tragedy is breathtaking. It demonstrated a stunning social dyslexia on the part of this American academic.

The morality of such behaviour aside, Dr Reeves has once again managed to get his facts wrong. As with so many of his claims regarding Sudan, his ghoulish attempts to somehow implicate Sudan in this immense human tragedy are simply inaccurate. A snapshot of the accuracy of the sorts of reports and press cuttings referred to by Dr Reeves was provided by the 'New York Times':

"the Central Intelligence Agency...recently concluded that reports that had appeared to document a clear link between the Sudanese Government and terrorist activities were fabricated and unreliable...The United States is entitled to use military force to protect itself against terrorism. But the case for every such action must be rigorously established. In the case of the Sudan, Washington has conspicuously failed to prove its case." (1)

The Sudanese Reaction to the Tragedy

The Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mustafa Osman Ismail, denounced "the vicious terrorist attacks on a number of American targets". He described the attacks as "criminal acts of terrorism which caused a great loss of precious human lives". Dr Mustafa "offered his sincere condolences to the American government and the American people". He also reaffirmed Sudan's "willingness to co-operate fully with the U.S. Government and the international community to combat all forms of terrorism and bring the perpetrators to justice." (2) The Sudanese President. Omer Bashir, also condemned the attacks and extended his condolences to the families of the victims and to the American people. President Bashir also stated that Sudan "is not a terrorist state, does not sponsor terrorism and does not advocate terrorist acts targeting innocent people". (3)

Sudan and Terrorism

In August 2001 Bush Administration officials stated that American counter-terrorism analysts had concluded that Sudan was moving in the right direction on terrorism. (4) Early this month, the United Nations Security Council set a date to lift the five-year-old limited diplomatic sanctions on Sudan - sanctions imposed after questionable allegations of Sudanese involvement in the attempted 1995 assassination of Egyptian President Mubarak. Ambassador Jean-David Levite, the president of the Security Council, stated that: "This signals the encouragement we feel from Sudan and the United States to move forward." (5)

The United States listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in August 1993. Former United States President Jimmy Carter, long interested in Sudanese affairs, went out of his way to see what evidence there was for Sudan's listing. Carter was told there was no evidence:

"In fact, when I later asked an assistant secretary of state he said they did not have any proof, but there were strong allegations." (6) Donald Petterson, the United States ambassador to Sudan at the time of Sudan's listing, stated that he was "surprised" that Sudan was put on the terrorism list. Petterson said that while he was aware of "collusion" between "some elements of the Sudanese Government" and various "terrorist" organisations:

"I did not think this evidence was sufficiently conclusive to put Sudan on the U.S. government's list of state sponsors of terrorism." (7)

In September 1998 both the 'New York Times' and the London 'Times' reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had previously secretly had to withdraw over one hundred of its reports alleging Sudanese involvement in terrorism. The CIA had realised that the reports in question had been fabricated. The London 'Times' concluded that this "is no great surprise to those who have watched similar CIA operations in Africa where 'American intelligence' is often seen as an oxymoron." (8)

In August 1998, in the wake of the bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the United States government launched a cruise missile attack on the al-Shifa medicines factory in Khartoum, claiming that the factory was owned by Osama bin-Laden and produced chemical weapons. The Clinton Administration failed to produce any evidence for these claims, and blocked any subsequent United Nations inspection of the factory. Independent tests carried out on the factory by a distinguished American chemist showed no traces of anything associated with chemical weapons. (9) It is now accepted that the attack was a disastrous blunder by the American government. (10)

Sudan arrested and extradited Illyich Ramirez Sanchez, "Carlos the Jackal" to France, and, as requested by Washington, in 1995 it expelled Osama bin Laden, and his associates, from Sudan. In September 1995 Sudan imposed strict visa requirements on visitors to Sudan, ending its no visa policy for Arab nationals. In May 2000, Sudan completed the process of acceding to all of the international instruments for the elimination of international terrorism. It has signed the following international agreements: 'The 1997 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings'; 'The 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism'; 'The 1988 International Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of Violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation (Montreal 1988)'; 'The 1980 International Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (Vienna 1980)'; 'The 1992 International Convention for the Suppression
of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf'; 'The 1963 International Convention on Offenses and Certain Other Acts Committed on board Aircraft'; and 'The 1991 International Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection'.

Sudan has also become a party to regional agreements and a participant in regional programmes for the suppression and elimination of terrorism on the African continent through the Organisation of African Unity. Sudan has also signed similar agreements within the framework of the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. In April 1998, for example, Sudan became a signatory to the Arab Agreement for Combating Terrorism. (11) In August, 1998, the Sudanese ambassador to Egypt stated Sudan welcomed an Egyptian proposal to convene an international conference on combating terrorism. (12) Sudan also signed
the chemical weapons convention in May 1999. (13)

Furthermore in March 2000, Sudan also comprehensively updated its own legislation for the suppression of terrorism. The Sudanese Government has repeatedly invited the United States to send its own anti-terrorist teams to Sudan to investigate and follow-up any information they may have about Sudan's alleged involvement in terrorism. In 2000 American anti-terrorist teams spent several months doing just that. Their reports were instrumental in the moves by the United Nations Security Council to release Sudan from the 1996 limited diplomatic sanctions.

Given that Dr Reeves claims to have approached Sudan "with the eyes of a professional researcher", claiming "[l]ong hours and days of assiduous reading, archival retrieval, and real-time communications with Sudan experts in and out of government" (14), one assumes that he must have known of these facts and developments. Not to have been aware of them would indicated his usual imperfect grasp of the Sudanese situation. To have known about them and not to have referred to them is reprehensible.

It has to be stated that Dr Reeves' usual inaccuracies with regard to Sudan pale into insignificance when set against his crass opportunism in attempting to exploit this terrible tragedy for his own questionable campaign. Are there no depths to which Dr Reeves will not sink?


1 'Dubious Decisions on the Sudan', Editorial, 'The New York Times', 23 September 1998.

2 'Official Statement on Terrorist Attacks', Embassy of the Republic of Sudan, Washington-DC, 11 September 2001.

3 'Sudan Denounces Terror, Urges "Unemotional US Response', News Article by Agence France Press on 12 September 2001.

4 'Powell Mulls U.N. Action on Sudan After Report African Government is Moving in right Direction on Terrorism', News Article by Associated Press on 22 August 2001.

5 'Security Council sets date to life Sudan sanctions, signalling U.S. support', News Article by Associated Press on 5 September 2001.

6 'The Independent', London, 17 September 1993.

7 Petterson, op.cit., p.69.

8 'The Times', London, 22 September 1998; 'The New York Times', 21 and 23 September, 1998.

9 See, 'U.S. Evidence of Terror Links to Blitzed Medicine Factory Was "Totally Wrong"', Andrew Marshall, 'The Independent,' London, 15 February 1999; 'No Trace of Nerve Gas Precursor Found at Bombed Sudan Plant', 'Chemical & Engineering News', 15 February 1999.

10 'Clinton Bombed Civilians on Purpose. American Tests Showed No Trace of Nerve Gas at "Deadly" Sudan Plant. The President Ordered the Attack Anyway', 'The Observer', London, 23 August 1998. Front-page.

11 'Internal Affairs Minister: Arab Agreement For Combating Terrorism is a Strong Reply to Enemies', Sudan News Agency, 25 April 1998.

12 'Sudan Welcomes Egypt's Anti-Terrorism Conference Proposal', News Article by Xinhua on 22 August 1998 at 14:32:43.

13 'Sudan Says Joins Pact Against Chemical Weapons', News Article by Reuters on 19 August 1999 at 10:31:52.

14 Statement by Dr Eric Reeves before the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Washington-DC, 15 February 2000 available at

Espac Published by The European - Sudanese Public Affairs Council Copyright © David Hoile 2005
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