An Update on Sudan and a Chat with Emerald Robinson

I always enjoy the opportunity for a virtual sit down with Emerald Robinson to discuss current events on the Global stage. Today she asked my thoughts on Sudan. What the hell is going on there? Or, more specifically, why did the United States have 70 “diplomats” at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum?

Thanks to Sudan, or more precisely, thanks to what happened in Sudan in the summer of 1994, I became a terrorism talking head on television. Carlos the Jackal aka Ilich Ramírez Sánchez was captured in Sudan. Here is the cover story:

Western intelligence agencies resumed their hunt for Carlos in earnest. He was tracked to Sudan, and in 1994 French agents captured Carlos and returned him to France for trial.

What actually transpired is the CIA in Sudan located and captured the Jackal. The CIA officer credited with organizing and executing that operation was Cofer Black. Black and his crew, working with Sudanese authorities, captured Carlos and turned him over to the French. Black and the CIA were content to let the French take credit for the op, but the French only took custody of the Jackal once he was in hand.

I was contacted by CNN that day and asked to come on air to comment. I provided great sound bite, referring to Carlos as “terrorist emeritus” and that launched my “career” as a counter terrorism expert, which led to hundreds of appearances on all major US networks, all cable channels and even the BBC and Al Jazeera during the ensuing decade.

Interesting side note on Cofer Black, he graduated to lead the CIA Counter Terrorism Center prior to and during 9-11. When he retired from the CIA he because the Ambassador for Counter Terrorism in my old office at the State Department; he did a stint with Blackwater and then, wonder of wonders, snagged a job as a member of the board at Burisma thanks to Hunter and Joe Biden. What a country!

During the same period that Carlos was hanging out in Khartoum, another fellow, Osama Bin Laden, also had taken up residence, starting in 1991, after being banished from Saudi Arabia.

The US listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 after accusing its government of harboring the al-Qaeda leader and opening its territories to extremist groups from throughout the world. Bin Laden arrived in Sudan in 1991 under the guise of a businessman and investor. He was close to the Islamic group that was ruling the country and that had adopted jihadist slogans against the West. Bin Laden consequently held several open and secret meetings with the leaders of the Islamic Front, such as Omar al-Bashir and Turabi.

Sources close to the decision-making powers at the Front at the time, said Bashir, the now-ousted president, and his deputy, Ali Osman Taha, had visited Bin Laden at his house in the Riyadh neighborhood in Khartoum to inform him about plans to deport him to Afghanistan.

There are several stories floating around on the internet regarding why Sudan booted Bin Laden in 1996. Some sources claim it was because of U.S. pressure. Others indicate the Sudanese were worried about Egypt retaliating for a failed assassination attempt on an Egyptian official. I personally think that was the impetus.

On 20 August 1998, Bill Clinton ordered the bombing of an alleged “chemical weapons” factory in Sudan in retaliation for the Al Qaeda simultaneous attacks on the U.S. Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on 7 August 1998. That provided a nice distraction from the political heat Clinton was taking over the revelation that he was getting blow jobs in the Oval Office from an intern. Turns out the targeted pharmaceutical factory at Al Shifa had nothing to do with Bin Laden or Al Qaeda.

Sudan got back into Washington’s good graces in 2015 by signing up to support the CIA backed civil war in Yemen, which pitted the Saudi-backed Government of Yemen against the Iranian supported Houthis.

The RSF (aka Rapid Security Force) is commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who currently holds the position of deputy head of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, and who is commonly known as Hemedti. . . . Beginning in 2015, the RSF, along with Sudan’s army, began sending troops to fight in the war in Yemen alongside Saudi and Emirati troops, allowing Hemedti to forge ties with the Gulf powers.

When I learned that the census of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum 70 officers, I was surprised. That is a large number for a country like Sudan, which is not a critical trading or military partner with the United States. All it offers is location — its coastline is on the Red Sea. Sudan would be an ideal base for the CIA to provide support to the war in Yemen, for example.

It is important to recognize that both the United States and Russia (and a host of other countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia) maintained contact with both General Dagalo, who was the number two guy in Sudan’s ruling body, and General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sovereign Council. Al-Burhan and Dagalo, to put it mildly, are rivals and are not best of buddies. We still do not know what triggered the RSF to attack the armed forces loyal to the Sovereign Council. Lots of speculation.

And what about the “bio lab” in Khartoum that is caught up in the conflict and has the W.H.O. spooked?

The World Health Organization (WHO) says there’s a “high risk of biological hazard” at a laboratory caught up in the ongoing conflict in Sudan.

Officials said it was unclear who was behind the occupation of the National Public Health Laboratory in the capital Khartoum.

I have seen some reports that the U.S. National Institutes of Health was funding research in that facility. Could be totally legit, but in the wake of revelations about NIH funding for the Wuhan laboratory and the discovery of multiple bio research labs, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, in Ukraine, some skepticism is certainly warranted. What kind of research was the U.S. funding?

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Thanks for sharing!