Al-Qaeda in Sudan

I find it deliciously amusing to select Ozone as a venue to meet a contact to discuss al-Qaeda in Sudan, given the recent terrorist warning released by the US embassy.

There’s a great deal of talk about a large and growing presence of al-Qaeda among the sand dunes and dusty streets of northern Sudan. Commentators are, of course, quick to point out that one of the most infamous Islamic terrorists – Osama bin Laden – once called Sudan his home, and made a lot of money out of the country, until he was politely asked to leave by a regime that feared incurring the wrath of the West.

Twelve years since he left, the US has yet to remove Sudan from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism. They removed North Korea from this list the other day, and Sudan had been holding out hopes that they would also be removed.

Which is why they are pretty cheesed off with the latest US statement, implying that the regime is still harbouring terrorist groups that are determined to hit Western interests. Sounding rather exasperated on the phone, Ali al-Sadiq, foreign office press spokesman, told me that the latest terrorist group (“Al-Qaeda in the land of the two Niles”, birthdate: circa October 2) was little more than a few odd bods distributing leaflets, and using the John Granville trial as an opportunity to get noticed.

Guess what? It worked.

Having spent a rather frustrating day searching for al-Qaeda entities in Sudan – not an easy job for the best of us – I feel myself inclined to agree with al-Sadiq. One of the reasons it is so hard to write anything about the wave of extremism sweeping through Sudan right now (and some of the press coverage I’m receiving now is confused, misleading, and woefully incomplete) is that it doesn’t actually exist.

Obviously, al-Qaeda has a few random sympathisers dotted around here and there, but they’re more boys from the hood than any serious force. Constantly shifting guises and agendas. Out there somewhere but impossible to pin down.

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2 Responses to “Al-Qaeda in Sudan”

  1. John Robertson Says:

    So, you spent an entire “day” scouring the largest country in Africa for an illegal, secretive, underground terrorist organisation, and couldn’t find them before teatime so went home and concluded they must not exist. Phew, I feel much safer now.

  2. blakerig Says:

    To clear up an apparent misunderstanding, this blog entry is not based on a single day’s research. But thanks for the comment. Amusing.

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