July 5, 2012 | IHS Defense, Risk and Security Consulting
Pariah State: Examining Sudan’s Support for Terrorism
July 5, 2012 | IHS Defense, Risk and Security Consulting
Pariah State: Examining Sudan’s Support for Terrorism
***This article originally appeared in “State Sponsorship of Terrorism”, a publication of IHS Defense, Risk and Security Consulting, in June 2012. Reproduced with permission © IHS (Global) Limited. All rights reserved.
South Sudan officially seceded from Sudan on 9 July 2011, becoming Africa's newest nation. For the Sudanese government, adhering to the results of the January 2011 referendum and allowing for a peaceful secession was thought to be the most significant metric in its efforts to be removed from the US Department of State's state sponsor of terrorism list, moving it one step closer to normalized relations.
During his visit to Sudan in November 2010, US Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced that the US would hasten its offer to remove Sudan from the state sponsored list if it complied with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), a set of agreements between the Government of Sudan and the main southern opposition party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), that included holding the January 2011 referendum to determine if South Sudan wanted to secede from the north.
Khartoum's compliance with the CPA ended a decades-long civil war. Conveying the position of the US government, Kerry promised: “If [Sudan] allows a politically sensitive referendum to go ahead in January, and abides by the results, the US will move to take the country off its list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as next July .”
However, to Khartoum's annoyance, the France-based Sudan Tribune reported on 18 August 2011 that the country would remain on the list, indicating that peace with South Sudan was not the only factor influencing the US government's decision. Indeed, evidence pointing to Sudan's continued support for terrorist activities precludes it from being delisted. On 18 August 2011, the US Department of State released its annual terrorism assessment, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010, which concluded that terrorist groups, including “Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists, remain in Sudan as gaps remained in the Sudanese government's knowledge of and ability to identify and capture these individuals as well as prevent them from exploiting the territory for smuggling activities”.
The administration of President Bill Clinton first labeled Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism on 12 August 1993. The original listing cited Khartoum's known harboring of local and international terrorists, as well as the country being a transit point for terrorists and weapons, as its justification.
In the early-1990s, Sudan provided safe haven to Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network until a change of policy (resulting partially from US pressure) forced the network to leave the country in 1996. The relationship between Sudan and Bin Laden was both ideological and financial. The wealthy Saudi invested heavily in Sudanese infrastructure in return for being able to reside there temporarily.
Since the late-1990s, the US acknowledges that Sudan has co-operated with it on various counter-terrorism initiatives to combat Al-Qaeda's presence there. While that co-operation continues today, elements of Al-Qaeda and other international jihadists linger in Sudan, with or without government knowledge.
Still, concerns over Sudan's support for terrorism extend beyond a diminished Al-Qaeda presence. For the past two decades, Sudan has maintained a multi-pronged relationship with Iran, the most active state sponsor of terrorism. This relationship is often described as a marriage of convenience; in return for the economic, military and security support it provides, Iran has gained a presence inside Khartoum where it can leverage Sudan's proximity to the Gaza Strip as well as its location on the Red Sea to track US and Israeli maritime activity.
Sudan also maintains a direct relationship with Iranian surrogate groups, primarily Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and more recently, the Popular Resistance Committee. According to Country Reports on Terrorism 2010, Hamas and PIJ continue to fundraise in Sudan and maintain a presence there. These groups also established a strong relationship with Sudanese government officials and use Sudan as a key transit route to facilitate the movement of Iranian-shipped weapons to Gaza.
While Sudan has made considerable efforts to co-operate with the US on combating the Al-Qaeda threat in Sudan, it has not met all the requirements necessary to be removed from the list. Most obviously, its continued support for Hamas and PIJ is likely to impact co-operation in the near term. If Sudan were to abandon its co-operative position, US intelligence capabilities to fight Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in East Africa are likely to diminish. In addition, Sudan may decide to further strengthen ties with Iran, which has proven to be a dependable and willing partner, providing the Sudanese government with critical military and security assistance.
In August 1993, the US Department of State labeled Sudan a state sponsor of terrorism, alongside Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Syria. As the Department of State's Patterns of Global Terrorism 1993 report noted: “Despite several warnings to cease supporting radical extremists, the Sudanese government continued to harbor international terrorist groups in Sudan.” The report also highlighted Sudan's close ties to Iran, noting that the regime provided meeting locations, transit points and safe havens for “Iran-backed extremist groups” as well as a “disturbing relationship with a wide range of Islamic extremists”. Among them were the Palestinian Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), PIJ and Hamas, as well as Lebanese Hizbullah and Egypt's El-Gamaa el-Islamiyya (GAI).
As the Patterns of Global Terrorism 1996 report alleged, Sudan played an integral role in GAI's June 1995 attempt to assassinate Hosni Mubarak, then-president of Egypt, while he was on a visit to Ethiopia. As the report states, “both Ethiopia and Egypt accused Sudan's security services of providing direct assistance” in that attack. The 11 members of the group responsible enjoyed safe haven in Sudan, where they had prepared for the operation and, in the aftermath of the failed assassination attempt, three members of the group remained in Sudan, according to a 2002 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.
Behind all of this activity was the popular Muslim Brotherhood ideologue and founder of Sudan's National Islamic Front (NIF) Hassan al-Turabi, who helped Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir solidify power during a bloodless coup in 1989 overthrowing the elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. As Lawrence Wright notes in his book The Looming Tower, Turabi envisioned “an international Muslim community – the ummah – headquartered in Sudan, which would spill into other countries carrying the Islamist revolution in an ever widening circle”. While Bashir and Turabi had a falling out in 1999, and Turabi has been arrested several times over the past 10 years for challenging Bashir's authority, the Islamist ideologue was a key driver of Sudanese policy in the 1990s.
Turabi viewed many of these armed groups as legitimate 'resistance fighters', as opposed to 'terrorists', in pursuit of a worldwide Islamist order. While this outlook has something in common with the original ideology of the Iranian revolution, simple economic interests also played an important role in Sudan's partnership with the Islamic Republic.
In return for this economic support, Sudan has demonstrated its willingness to accommodate the needs of its allies by providing safe haven to terrorist networks, helping to facilitate weapons shipments to replenish depleted terrorist stockpiles and allowing its capital to become a popular meeting location for terrorists networks. Until Sudan is in a position where it can receive economic, military and security assistance from foreign donors, the government will continue to align with other isolated states in order to secure its interests.
Ties to Al-Qaeda
Notably, the 1993 designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism lacked any mention of Al-Qaeda. As Robert James Woolsey, the former Director of Central Intelligence, noted, few, if any, in the US government even knew of the existence of Bin Laden's terrorist network at the time. But, as subsequent Department of State annual reports indicated, Sudan formed an alliance with Al-Qaeda in the early-1990s.
In keeping with Turabi's vision, the Sudanese regime invited Bin Laden to Sudan after he criticized the Saudi regime over the presence of US troops on Saudi territory following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. When Bin Laden arrived in 1991 he quickly became one of one of Sudan's most significant financial backers.
The extent of this support was clearly described during the 2007 trial of Olivia Rux vs Republic of Sudan, a suit filed by the family members of the US sailors killed in the 12 October 2000 USS Cole bombing. The suit alleged that Sudan knowingly and willfully provided Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda with material support for the attack. During the hearings, it emerged that Bin Laden had assisted Sudan by building the airport near Port Sudan on the Red Sea, as well as the road connecting the airport to Khartoum.
In exchange for his financial backing for such projects, Khartoum furnished Bin Laden with large tracts of Sudanese land for agriculture, along with other businesses, which provided his network with income and cover for procuring weapons and traveling abroad. In his testimony during the Rux trial, terrorism analyst Douglas Farah noted: “[Al-Qaeda] could not have operated with that degree of freedom and openness if they had not been sanctioned by the central government to do so.” US District Judge Robert Doumar ultimately ruled that Sudan helped plan and execute the attack, providing Al-Qaeda operatives with diplomatic passports and other documentation to facilitate their movement in and out of the country.
Sudan served a number of functions for Bin Laden and his network. As the 9/11 Commission Report notes, Al-Qaeda used Sudan as a staging area for attacks against Western targets. In December 1992, jihadists associated with Bin Laden detonated two bombs at hotels in Aden, Yemen, where US forces were staying while en route to operations in Somalia. The attack, which killed two tourists, is believed to be Al-Qaeda's first and was planned in Sudan. Less than a year later, Al-Qaeda operatives traveled from Sudan to Somalia to train anti-US fighters and are believed to have played a role in the battle in Mogadishu that downed two US Black Hawk helicopters in October 1993, leading to the death of 18 US servicemen.
In addition, Bin Laden built several training camps in Sudan at which militants from Hamas, the ANO, Lebanese Hizbullah and Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA) trained for terrorist operations.
In April 1991, Turabi sought to further strengthen ties between these groups by establishing the Popular Arab and Islamic Congress Conference. As Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, notes in his book The Search for Al-Qaeda, the meeting included future Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, members of Hamas, representatives of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, the international terrorist known as “Carlos the Jackal”, a Venezuelan national who was deported by Sudan in 1994 under intense international pressure and is currently serving two life sentences in France relating to his organization of four deadly bomb attacks carried out in France in the 1980s. Sudan sponsored this conference annually until 2000, when pressure from US authorities convinced the Bashir regime to suspend it, according to a 2008 summary report from the Council on Foreign Relations.
Sudan's role as a hub for a wide range of terrorist groups had an amplifying effect, enabling Al-Qaeda to form connections and benefit from the experiences of other militant groups. For example, Ali Mohamed, an Al-Qaeda operative convicted for his role in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, noted during his court testimony in 2000: “I arranged security for a meeting in the Sudan between [Imad] Mughniyah, Hizbullah's chief [who was killed in a car bomb explosion in Damascus, Syria on 12 February 2008], and Bin Laden. Hizbullah provided explosives training for Al- Qaeda and [Egypt's] Al-Jihad.”
By the mid-1990s, Sudan was under increasing international pressure to sever its ties with Al-Qaeda, and as a result encouraged Bin Laden to leave the country in 1996. However, Bin Laden's subsequent move to Afghanistan did not end the government's support for the network. The following year, then US President Clinton issued Executive Order 13067, imposing trade sanctions and freezing all Sudanese property in the US due to Khartoum's “continued support for international terrorism”.
These sanctions did little to deter Sudanese authorities from allowing Al-Qaeda to continue its operational planning. In fact, Sudan was later found liable for the role it played in the planning and execution of Al- Qaeda's 1998 twin embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. Specifically, 2011 court records from James Owens et al vs Republic of Sudan indicate that the “Sudanese intelligence service enabled Al-Qaeda operative L'Houssaine Kherchtou to smuggle USD10,000 from Sudan to Kenya”. The Patterns of Global Terrorism 1998 report noted: “Sudan continued to serve as a meeting place, safe haven and training hub for a number of international terrorist groups, particularly Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda organization.”
It took the attacks of 11 September 2001 to force Khartoum to unequivocally distance itself from Al-Qaeda. Fearful of provoking a mobilized US military, the regime expanded its co-operation with the US, providing intelligence that has had a tangible impact on terrorist networks across the Middle East. The Sudanese government has continued to condemn terrorist acts targeting civilians, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on 10 September 2011 to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks stating: “The aggression against civilians and killing of innocent people together with inflicting material damage on their homes or work sites constitute a criminal act prohibited by all divine religions and humanitarian values and norms.”
Ties to Iran
While Sudan's relationship with Al-Qaeda has been downgraded, ties with the Iranian regime persist. Khartoum has valued its relationship with the Islamic Republic since the early days of Bashir's rule. Despite the fact that the ruling elite of Sudan are Sunni while Iran's population is around 90 per cent Shia, this unlikely alliance has endured because of mutual interests. Both Sudan and Iran are pariah states, isolated from the rest of the international community.
The Sudanese regime, in the wake of the 1989 coup that brought Bashir to power, was poor, in need of technology and lacking the weaponry required to extend and consolidate its power throughout the country, particularly in the south. Iran was eager to provide the support Khartoum needed, in return for access to the strategically located nation.
In December 1991, then-Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani made Iran's first official state visit to Khartoum. During his trip, Rafsanjani called Sudan the “Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution in the African continent”. At the time, Iran pledged USD17 million in foreign aid and an additional USD300 million in Chinese-manufactured weapons to the Sudanese regime. Rafsanjani, according to the Journal of Defence Studies, also sent 2,000 members of the IRGC and its specialized Quds Force to train Sudan's security forces and foreign fighters.
In November 1995, an Iranian delegation visited Khartoum to assess Sudan's military needs. After the visit, as African historian Thomas Ofcansky noted in the 1999 publication Sudan: Recent History, Iran agreed to supply Sudan with armored cars, heavy artillery, and radar equipment. In May 1996, the two countries signed an agreement to broaden the scope of their co-operation to include more non-military assistance. Currently, according to a March 2012 report authored by Israeli analyst Ely Karmon, of the International Institute for Counter-terrorism, Iran is engaged in several development projects in Sudan, including a USD30 million water treatment project and a USD130 million electrical production project.
But the shift toward non-military assistance has not diluted the military-to-military relationship. Between 2004 and 2006, according to a report by the Washington-based Human Rights First, Iran sold USD12 million in arms to Sudan, including tanks valued at nearly USD8 million. In March 2008, the Sudan Tribune reported that Khartoum and Tehran “signed an agreement on co-operation in the fields of technology, education, science, industry and exchange of expert delegations as well as the establishment of a military co-operation commission”. With violent clashes still occurring along Sudan's southern border, Iran is likely lobbying hard to sell an isolated Sudan even more military equipment.
Over time, the Islamic Republic has leveraged its economic and military support to conduct covert activities inside Sudan, largely its support to its Palestinian surrogate groups. Tasked with this responsibility is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Quds Force (IRGC-QF), Iran's special operations unit, which has likely forged relationships with elements inside the Sudanese government and security forces to ensure its sensitive operations run smoothly, and that Iran maintains plausible deniability.
To this end, during Operation Cast Lead (a three-week armed conflict from late December 2008 to January 2009 between Hamas and Israel) Quds Force officials helped co-ordinate weapons shipments from Tehran to Gaza, transiting through Sudan, to replenish Hamas' depleted supplies. According to a leaked classified Israeli document summarizing a mid-February 2009 meeting between Major General Dan Harel, deputy chief of staff at the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), and then US Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham discussing the operation, Harel said Iran had provided more sophisticated weaponry, including longer range missiles, to Hamas using the Sudan to Gaza smuggling route.
Another leaked Department of State cable dated 17 March 2009 reveals the US government had additional intelligence of a shipment of unspecified arms that Iran was planning to send to Syria for “onward transfer to Sudan”. From Sudan, the US believed the equipment would then be given to Hamas.
The Quds Force may also have set up a warehouse where it can store, and possibly deconstruct, larger rockets before sending to Gaza, according to the Sudanese newspaper Al-Rai al-Shaab, which is owned and controlled by Turabi (now an unabashed opponent of the Bashir regime). The paper alleged that in 2010 the IRGC-QF was operating a weapons factory “in the jurisdiction of Khartoum” to funnel weapons to militant groups in Africa and the Middle East, including Hamas and PIJ. The Bashir regime made attempts to cover up the story by shutting down the paper and arresting the paper's deputy editor, Abu Zur al-Amin.
In addition, reports in 2011 suggest that the Quds Force launched operations into Libya from its base in Sudan after the fall of Muammar Ghadaffi. In September 2011, according to The Telegraph, the IRGC-QF seized weapons in Libya, including Russian made SA-24 man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, and smuggled them to an IRGC base in Al-Fashir, the capital of Sudan's North Darfur region. Sudanese officials dismissed these reports.
Support for Palestinian militancy
While Sudan has attempted to hide its involvement in Iranian weapons shipments, making it difficult to accurately assess its complicity in the activities, the government is less secretive about its support for Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas and PIJ. Khartoum wholeheartedly embraces the cause of these groups, including the call for 'resistance' and does not view their actions as terrorism.
Similar to its relationship with Iran, Sudan has long-standing ties with Hamas, whose members regularly travel to Sudan to attend conferences, as well as to meet with Sudanese officials. In March 2011, Sudan hosted a conference on Jerusalem attended by several Hamas leaders, including political chief Khaled Meshaal. Meshaal visited Khartoum again in late-November 2011, meeting with President Bashir, his vice-president and key opposition leaders, according to the Sudan Tribune. Shortly afterward, Bashir welcomed another Hamas delegation including Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, as well as Hamas co-founders Mahmood al-Zahar and Mousa Abu Marzook.
Diplomacy, however, is only one aspect of this relationship. In the 1990s, as reported by Christopher C Harmon of the Christian Science Monitor, Hamas maintained offices in Khartoum's Ammarat district. According to terrorism analyst Matthew Levitt's 2006 book Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, the Palestinian terrorist group utilized Sudanese territory to train its operatives in the 1990s. More recently, in February 2010, multiple sources in the Israeli press cited a report on the Lebanese Al-Qanat website (now taken down) alleging that Hamas trained operatives in Sudan to fire rockets.
Sudan's role as a physical transit point for smuggling operations, particularly to Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, is especially troubling. From there, the Sinai Bedouin transport weapons to the smuggling tunnels into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. In 2010, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Hamas of smuggling weapons into Gaza, according to the Israeli news source Haaretz.
Iranian weapons also flow to PIJ. Since Operation Cast Lead, Hamas and PIJ have looked to acquire more “qualitative” weapons, including longer range rockets, which would allow Palestinian terrorist groups to target key Israeli cities during future conflicts, according to the Israeli Security Agency. Iran will continue providing weapons to its surrogate groups in Gaza; however, it will likely provide more sophisticated weapons to the group it believes is more willing to carry out strikes against Israel.
Indeed, several Israeli open source intelligence reports, issued under the auspices of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, indicate that the range and accuracy of PIJ rockets has improved in recent years – roughly keeping pace with Hamas. To underscore this point, in the exchange of hostilities between Israel and armed groups in the Gaza Strip in March 2011, Hamas did not fire one projectile. According to one Israeli official who spoke with IHS, the groups that fired on Israel during this encounter obtained the vast majority of their ordnance from Iran via the Sudan-Sinai pipeline.
In an interview with IHS in early January 2012, an IDF source claimed that the PIJ was increasing in strength in the Gaza Strip, with IDF intelligence reports noting that the group might have more long-range rockets than Hamas. According to the source, the PIJ had allegedly used its weapon smuggling networks to build a significant arsenal consisting of long-range 122 mm Grad rockets and a small number of Iranian-made 240 mm Fajr-3 rockets. The source further claimed that the IDF believed the PIJ was trying to pressure Hamas, on behalf of Iran, into supporting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has come under increasing pressure from widespread anti-government protests since March 2011.
Israel is well aware of the weapons smuggling pipeline, and has taken efforts to interdict weapons before they reach the tunnels. In April 2011, Khartoum accused Israel of incinerating a car with a Hellfire missile near Port Sudan, in an attack that killed two people. The Sudanese government assigned blame to Israel because it is the only country in the region equipped with such ordnance. One of the two individuals killed in the attack was Abdul-Latif Ashkar, reportedly a founder of Hamas' “aid and logistics department”, which coordinated weapons smuggling to Gaza. Israel has never acknowledged a role in the attack.
In January 2009, Israeli aircraft destroyed a 23-truck convoy carrying arms in the Sudanese desert. The shipment, which according to Time magazine originated in Iran, was en route to Port Sudan and destined for the Sinai weapons pipeline to Gaza. At the time of the attack, Israel was engaged in Operation Cast Lead, so the convoy was likely intended to replenish Hamas' weapons supplies. According to a leaked Department of State cable dated 22 January 2009, Washington warned Sudan not to allow Gaza-bound arms to be delivered via cargo planes.
The debate to delist
Since the late-1990s, Sudan has increasingly made efforts to co-operate with the US on combating terrorist activities in Sudan, although they do not consider the Palestinian groups to be terrorists. Sudan signed the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing in 1999 (ratified in 2000) and the following year it signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (ratified in 2003). These actions prompted the United Nations (UN) to lift its sanctions against Sudan in September 2001. By May 2004, the US government acknowledged Sudan's progress by removing it from its list of countries “not fully co-operating” in the war on terrorism, though it remained a state sponsor of terrorism.
In an effort to demonstrate its sincerity, Sudan reportedly conducted limited counterterrorist operations on its own soil and provided the US with information on the foreign fighters transiting through Sudan en route to the insurgency in Iraq. An unnamed US intelligence official cited in a 2007 Los Angeles Times report noted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was working with Khartoum to collect intelligence.
With relations at an all-time high and its economy in shambles, Khartoum appealed to the US to lift its sanctions. To underscore the urgency of this request, after three years of wrangling over a peace accord with South Sudan, the Bashir regime signed the CPA in Nairobi in January 2005. From the regime's perspective, it had delivered on a key concession that would encourage the US to remove its sanctions.
The administration of President Barack Obama did not disabuse Sudan of the notion that normalization could soon come. After the referendum granted South Sudan statehood, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted: “Removal of the state sponsor of terrorism designation will take place if and when Sudan meets all criteria spelled out in US law, including not supporting international terrorism for the preceding six months and providing assurance it will not support such acts in the future.”
Concurrently, in 2010, the Department of State reported: “Sudan remained a co-operative partner in global counter-terrorism efforts against Al-Qaeda.” It also noted: “[Khartoum has] taken steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist groups within Sudan and has worked hard to disrupt foreign fighters' use of Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for violent extremists going to Iraq.”
Nevertheless, US officials have reservations about removing the designation. In March 2011, US Congressman Ed Royce announced new legislation requiring the administration to certify that Sudan has ended its support for the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) before it could be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The bill (named HR 895) is before the House Foreign Relations Committee for consideration, and is unlikely to be passed into law during the current Congress.
Sudan's relationship with the LRA does not appear to be a contentious issue. Khartoum insists it severed support to LRA leader Joseph Kony in 2005, and the Department of State has not provided evidence to the contrary. In fact, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 stated: “There was no reliable information that corroborated allegations that the Government of Sudan provided support to the LRA.” It further noted that Sudan had contributed to an African Union brigade to pursue the LRA.
In December 2011, the US government informed Khartoum that ties would not improve further until the regime ceased attacking targets in disputed regions (Blue Nile and South Kordofan) and ensured humanitarian access to the affected population. The same month, President Obama's special envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman, announced that Khartoum's “bombing civilians and denying humanitarian access” was hindering normalization of relations between the two countries.
Of course, this was not the sole reason for the administration's ambivalence. Despite cooperation in some key areas, Sudan's continued ties to Iran, support for Palestinian militants, and lack of commitment to peace with the South may ensure its place on the official US list of rogue regimes for the foreseeable future.
To the Bashir regime, it appears the US has moved the goalposts, despite the fact that Khartoum upheld its end of the bargain on South Sudan, as well as co-operating with US intelligence to track and disrupt Al-Qaeda. According to a 6 March 2011 Sudan Tribune report, Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Khalid Moussa told reporters that US efforts to attach additional criteria in order to be removed from the designated list contradicted previous assurances and demonstrated “bad intentions” on the part of some US officials. At present, Sudanese trust in the US government is eroding, which may hinder co-operation on counter-terrorism initiatives and lead Sudan to backslide into greater engagement with militant and terrorist groups, and strengthening ties with Iran.
Jonathan Schanzer, a former intelligence analyst at the US Department of the Treasury, is vice-president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Laura Grossman is a senior research analyst.