By Luis Arellano
While President Trump lifted sanctions on Sudan this past year, on the 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, that African nation remains on the U.S. State Department’s terrorism lists.
The irony is that Sudan tried harder than any foreign nation to prevent the 9-11 attacks, according to Sudanese officials and former U.S. intelligence officials. Sudan’s intelligence service offered to arrest Osama bin Laden, when he was living in Sudan. The Clinton Administration said no thanks. Sudan turned over mounds of al Qaeda documents, arrested men linked to al Qaeda, and permitted the U.S. to intercept phone calls and fly drones over its territory.
Osama Bin Ladin was offered to the Clinton Administration in 1996. That was first reported by journalist Richard Miniter in his New York Times bestseller Losing Bin Ladin and subsequently by Vanity Fair in 2003 (Disclosure: Richard Miniter is the CEO of the American Media Institute). Bill Clinton later admitted that the botched deal was the biggest mistake of his presidency in a 2002 speech
Clinton’s Fatal Lie: Sudan and the US terrorism list by Robert Hoile of the Africa Research Centre looks at how this failure to a large misperception about Sudan from within the Clinton Administration and their move to list Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993.
“And we’d been hearing that the Sudanese wanted America to start dealing with them again,” said former U.S. president Bill Clinton in 1992, ”They released him. At the time, 1996, he had committed no crime against America, so I did not bring him here because we had no basis on which to hold him, though we knew he wanted to commit crimes against America.”
Instead of making a deal they worked to pressure Bin Ladin to leave Sudan with the United States stipulating he could go anywhere, save Somalia.
The book notes the culpability of counter-terrorism director Richard Clarke and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.
“Bill, Dick and Sandy helped push Americans out of the windows of the World Trade Center on that September morning,” wrote former CIA section head Michael Scheuer. During the 1990s Scheuer. Scheuer the headed the CIA section devoted to catching the infamous terrorist who was eventually killed in a 2011 U.S. special forces raid in Pakistan.
The Clinton Administration has listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terror since 1993. An article in the Independent a British newspaper at the time said that Sudan’s listing as state-sponsor of terror was a sop from Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak who was concerned about Sudan’s rising influence.
The book also details how the United States keen to get intelligence on the country American intelligence operations often paid for fabricated intelligence reports from local “sources” who were happy to provide them in exchange for the large funds the CIA had for this purpose. The book reveals that 150 CIA reports had to be discarded as a result. This may have contributed to Sudan’s listing as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993.
“The Washington Post’s Jonathan Randal attributed Sudan’s listing to false intelligence claims: “The initial listing was prompted largely by what proved to be a phoney intelligence report variously alleging a plot to bomb a party for U.S. embassy workers’ children or to bomb an embassy school bus.” Non-essential personnel were withdrawn but, no plot was uncovered
To read the book the full-text.