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Sudan columnist says political Islam worse than deposed Arab dictators
BBC Monitoring Middle East
February 17, 2013


Commentary by Dr Sabir Abdine: “The Crisis of Political and Fundamentalist Islam”

Political Islam in all its types and factions is a major paradox for the modern world as it searches for means of curtailing its devastating effects on civilization and on the freedom gained after a lot of sacrifices. Many innocent lives have been lost because of the extremism of radical Islamist groups which consider themselves Allah`s shadow on earth. Now the major preoccupation of these groups is to reach power. Their only way to do this is through violence, bloodshed and liquidation of opponents. Once they reach power and discover their ineptness in running state affairs they claim there is a plot against them and start liquidating opponents. This is a paranoia which leads to lunacy. The more radical elements in these groups engage in extortion and sloganeering, as we see now in Sudan. We see this in the strong Salafi-jihadist opposition, defiance of authorities, and the escape from the Kooper prison in an operation described as heroic and documented in a video that has been distributed on a wide scale.

We have written before that this is not an Arab spring but an Islamic winter. We said that no matter how unjust the regimes that fell, they were still open to change. But if political Islam groups seize power it is difficult to reach understandings with them because they think they rule by Divine right. With the fall of Al-Qadhafi groups of his brigades escaped to the south and to West Africa. They had heavy weapons and helped the Islamists to establish a fundamentalist emirate in Mali. This is due to another mistake added to the many mistakes of the Americans who fostered terrorism in Afghanistan under the leadership of Usama Bin Ladin.

In Egypt, conditions deteriorated after the Muslim Brotherhood reached power. We warned before that the Muslim Brothers do not believe in democracy. Muhammad Mursi and the Muslim Brothers continue to destroy the Egyptian state and impose a dictatorial, oppressive, and totalitarian regime. Political Islam is against the concept of the national, civil state and against freedoms, human rights, and citizenship because political Islam is completely against the heritage of humanity and individual and community rights.

Source: Al-Sahafah, Khartoum, in Arabic 16 Feb 13

© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Report views activities of “extremist” groups in Sudanese universities
BBC Monitoring Middle East
February 13, 2013

Report from Khartoum by Muhammad Sa`id and Hind Ramadan: “Religious Grroups are Active in our Universities. Faqiri, Rich Student at Faculty of Medical Sciences was Recruited by Extremists then Disappeared”

For Uthman Faqiri who studies pharmacology at Khartoum`s University of Medical Science, completing his studies is not a priority. He believes jihad, religious advocacy, and attending religious seminars are better than “wasting time in useless things.” So he left on a trip to Malaysia and has not returned, according to his associates.

Faqiri, 20, was in the third year in the University, where the tuition fees are 18,000 pounds annually. He is a member of Al-Hadarah al-Islamiyyah [Islamic Civilization] group which is active in Salafi advocacy at the university. It campaigns among students of both sexes and organizes religious lectures. It is always advertising these lectures in the university`s halls and places frequented by the students.

A student close to Faqiri said “he closed his private phone in the last week of January but told us by e-mail that he would not return to the university. He did not tell us where he went or why he disappeared. He lately joined the Islamic Civilization Society and was active in organizing lectures. He urged students not to befriend co-eds and did not accept friendship between the two sexes under any justifications, even within academic cooperation. His views were extremist views.”

There were accounts in the university that a graduate was found among the members of extremist groups caught three months ago in Al-Dandar, in the Province of Sinnar. That student had told his family that “medicine was nonsense” and that “life was in meeting Allah and in martyrdom.”

Faqiri`s family, which lives in Saudi Arabia, searched for its missing son. It was not able to find out where he had gone after abandoning the house in which he lived with his elder brother in an upper class district in eastern Khartoum.

The society which Faqiri joined bans celebrations of Christmas and New Year`s as well as Valentine Day. It distributes a monthly bulletin in the university, holds open air lectures on campus, uses social networking, and has an account on Facebook.

A member of the staff at the university expressed fear at the growing influence of the society. He said more than 200 students of both sexes have joined it. “I know a student who had strong friendships with co-eds when he first joined the university but he has now become an extremist who is against social and academic relationships. He used to have chocolate and fresh juice and make wisecracks but has now become a completely different person,” he said.

A co-ed at the university said “Faqiri was not a member of the society at first. Now he refuses to shake hands with co-eds or even talk with them. The society follows modern methods in attracting students and its activities are not banned like political parties at the university.”

The student who appeared to be well-off said “as you see the students at this university come from affluent families. They spend 18,000 pounds annually on studies and are not facing economic difficulties like students in other universities. The families of most of the students live outside Sudan and are able to provide handsomely for their sons. This atmosphere makes the students vulnerable to [religious] campaigning. The society`s members often wear jalabiyahs [traditional flowing Arab robes] as a sign of religiousness.”

Source: Al-Sahafah, Khartoum, in Arabic 12 Feb 13

© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Report views clashes with Muslim extremists in eastern Sudan
BBC Monitoring Middle East
December 04, 2012

Report by Ammar al-Daw: “Sinnar and Al-Gadarif within the Firing Range of Extremist Groups”

Extremist Islamic groups with military organization are active around the border stretch between the Provinces of Al-Qadarif and Sinnar, in the areas adjacent to the districts of Al-Rahd and Eastern Al-Qallabat in Al-Qadarif and Al-Dandar in Sinnar. These extremist groups began their military operations after raiding the Qalqu Camp of the Wildlife Protection Police in Al-Dandar, 30 kilometres from the Bandgui administrative unit in Eastern Al-Qallabat. The residents of the area said that the attack was aimed at taking weapons and gear from the camp. The Islamic groups seized a quantity of weapons, ammunition, and gear. They remained for three days during which they seized cows from the inhabitants after terrorizing them. According to the information authorities obtained from the inhabitants, the Islamic groups are present in Al-Hazirah Jungle and move by mules. They have a subversive plan they intend to carry out by using explosives, various weapons, and modern communications equipment. The extremist jihadist groups staged a second attack yesterday after clashing with a battalion comprising elements from the National Intelligence and Security Service [NISS], the armed forces, and police. The attack was in the area of Al-Sabirah, inside Hazirat al-Dandar on the borders between the Provinces of Sinnar and Al-Qadarif.

According to the information obtained by Al-Sahafah, the extremist groups trained for more than a month in the area between the two provinces. They used advanced weapons in the drills with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks in the provinces of Al-Gadarif, Sinnar, and the Blue Nile. Regular forces clashed with the extremist groups after getting information on their whereabouts. The clashes led to killing a number of the extremists and injuries to four members of the governmental force. Eng Ahmad Abbas, the Governor of Sinnar, disclosed that the attack mounted Friday afternoon was the second of its type after an earlier attack in Qalqu where the attackers took over the Wildlife Protection location, broke into the weapons warehouse and stole equipment. He said that security authorities acted on the basis that the raiders were Ethiopian opposition forces, an unknown terrorist political force, hunters, or opposing herdsmen. The authorities ruled out clashes between herdsmen because of the abundance of grazing grounds. They also said that the Ethiopian opposition does not carry out incursions. The information obtained by security forces and military intelligence in the two provinces said this was a takfiri force [takfiris brand differing Muslims as infidels] which came from Khartoum and took position in the border stretch.

Abbas said in an interview with Al-Sahafah that military reinforcements were deployed to pursue them after they fled. More than 25 of them were arrested including the leader of the gang, a man who has a Ph.D. in chemistry and who works as a professor in a Sudanese University. He said the man had previously been arrested on similar charges.

Abbas said military and combing operations were continuing to apprehend the culprits despite the thick foliage and grass along 10,000 meters in Al-Hazirah. He said a number of the members of the extremist groups had been killed during training and during the chase by security forces. Initial investigations revealed that the raiders had advanced weapons including bombs, explosives, and heavy machineguns in addition to chemical explosive charges.

The Governor commended the cooperation by authorities in the two provinces, the military entities, and the citizens in arresting the accused and informing on their whereabouts. He said the attack was carried out by a specialized team from the NISS and the armed forces and involved the use of more than 12 four-wheel drive vehicles. He said some of the injured and the suspects have been transferred to Khartoum.

Retired military expert Brigadier Hasan Bayumi said that such military activity shows that religious extremists have specific objectives and are similar to crim inal gangs that rely on retired military personnel to carry out terrorist operations in border regions, where it is difficult to conduct monitoring and combing operations. He said eradicating these groups requires limited military operations and using aircraft and reconnaissance and intelligence information. He said what happened is considered a systematic intelligence operation because the raiders used advanced weapons and military tactics. He said this shows that deserting soldiers and former soldiers took part. He did not rule out the possibility that officers participated in the attack.

Dr Muhammad Al-Mu`atisim Ahmad Mursi, a political analyst and writer, described what happened as a major and exceptional event because the region has not witnessed any military disorders. He said the takfir current appeared recently in Sudan but has not found fertile ground for its growth. He called for dealing with it in a serious manner and opening a broad dialogue to determine the demands of its followers in order to reach compromises.

He said this activity was foreign to Sudan`s political history but that it could emerge under the current conditions and the opening up.

Musa said in his statements to Al-Sahafah that the dialogue on this should go beyond closed rooms and be conducted under the sun to cut off the takfiris and not allow the growth of their activities, especially because it undermines the security of citizens in that agricultural area which needs stability to pursue this kind of economic activity. He said the plan in the two provinces requires dealing with the mental, cultural, and social aspects through opening a meaningful dialogue.

Source: Al-Sahafah, Khartoum, in Arabic 3 Dec 12

© 2012 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Writer decries regime`s practices, says “Al-Qaeda emerges anew in Sudan`
BBC Monitoring Middle East
January 20, 2013

Text of commentary by Uthman Mirghani entitled “Al-Qaeda emerges anew in Sudan” published by Saudi-owned leading pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat website on 16 January

On hearing that Al-Qaeda in Sudan announced days ago that it had formed an Al-Qaeda-affiliated student wing in Khartoum University, Sudan`s most prestigious university and the students` most important centre for political activity, one feels shocked and sad because Sudan has never been notorious for violence and extremism and because the Sudanese people have always been known for moderation and tolerance as well as for their inherent rejection of extremism. This image of Sudan and the Sudanese people remained unchanged except under the rule of the Islamists of the current Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation [RCCNS] regime. The regime, at the beginning of its reign, felt upbeat about being the first of the political Islam movements to monopolize power in the Arab region although its coming to power was not by ballot and although it seized and monopolized power dishonestly in a military coup. Then, the regime opened the doors of Sudan to the Islamists of all strata, including the Islamist politicians, activists, and extremists, in order to have their support and to appoint itself as the commander of the political Islam movements.

The regime used Islamic slogans for political ends. It also used such slogans to grant itself legitimacy after it had seized power forcefully and assassinated the then established democratic system, under which Islamists were operating freely. Moreover, the regime recruited youths and sent them to the battlefields in the South under the banner of jihad. For its part, the state TV spared time for airing inspirational programmes on the battlefields and the wedding of the martyrs, who pass away in the battlefields.

It was not strange that such conditions would lead to the emergence of some extremist and takfiri [holding other Muslims to be infidels] movements. The affiliates of one of these movements launched an attack with firearms on a mosque for the Sunnis in the revolutionary city of Omdurman and killed a number of worshippers during the Friday prayer. Such attack, which was unprecedented in the history of Sudan, resulted in a severe shock. It also made many of the wise people warn against escalation in the extremist discourse. However, the National Islamic Front [NIF] regime, driven by the ecstasy of power and the Islamic leadership dreams, which [Hasan] Al-Turabi and some of his leading followers were having, did not listen to the advice and went on with its plans. The regime held conferences for the Islamists who fled their countries, opened its borders to the extremists who were wanted for trial in their home countries, and provided some of the incoming brothers with regular and diplomatic passports. In this period, the regime received Usamah Bin-Ladin, who lived in Khartoum for five years, during which he established some businesses and farms, which he used for financing and training his group`s members. Meanwhile, leading figures from the Al-Jama`ah al-Islamiyah in Egypt and Al-Jihad Group dropped into Sudan. As a result, the regime`s relations with its near and far neighbours were strained, especially after the attempt to assassinate former Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, to which the assassins came from Sudan.

This is how the NIF regime has added Sudan to the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, from which Sudan has never been removed since then. Consequently, the NIF regime has inflicted a lot of disasters and calamities on the country, the repercussions of which may continue to be suffered by the Sudanese people for many years to come. The regime has recently found out that it cannot stand the isolation and the international pressures. Therefore, it asked its guests to leave. Among those who were asked to leave was Usamah Bin-Ladin, who headed for Afghanistan. In addition, the Venezuelan terrorist Carlos [Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as Carlos the Jackal], who was living in Khartoum, was extradited to France as part of a deal with the French intelligence. However, this step and the following steps proved to be useless. Although the regime cooperated with the Western intelligence in general and the US intelligence in particular and although it provided them with a lot of files and information, especially after a US raid was launched on it during [former US President Bill] Clinton`s tenure and after it was threatened with being attacked in the war on terrorism during [former US President George W.] Bush administration`s reign, these steps did not brighten the regime`s face.

Internally, the seeds of extremism, which the regime allowed to be sowed and even took part in sowing, started to grow and to branch into organizations and movements, which embraced extremist takfiri thinking [the ideas embraced by those who hold other Muslims to be infidels]. Some of these organizations and movements resorted to armed violence. Thus, it was not unusual for Sudan to witness armed confrontations and operations by extremist organizations inspired by Al-Qaeda`s ideology. An example of these operations was the assassination of the US diplomat John Granville, who was assassinated in Khartoum in early 2008. This operation was claimed by two extremist groups, one of them went by the name of the Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Two Niles while the other went by the name of the Ansar al-Tawhid.

Although the Sudanese authorities deny the presence of Al-Qaeda in Sudan, the authorities acknowledge that there are militant extremist groups, which the authorities fight with from time to time. For example, the security services announced launching a crackdown campaign on a training camp for an extremist group in southeastern Sudan last month. This campaign was interspersed with two-sided attacks that resulted in killings. In addition, a number of Sudanese were killed or arrested when they fought within the ranks of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Somalia. It has also been reported that some Sudanese have joined the current battle in Mali.

However, what is worrying here is that Al-Qaeda or the Al-Qaeda`s ideology-inspired groups has recently started to speak out about its activities, which is evidence that it feels confident after it managed to spread its ideology and to attract some youths. Last month, the Al-Hijratayn website, which is believed to be linked to a Sudanese group, whose ideology is close to that of Al-Qaeda, posted a video featuring the escape of four people, implicated in the assassination of the US diplomat [John Granville], from their prison. Oddly, the video displayed two extremist escapees explaining in detail the group`s escape plan from Kobar prison. The video also showed footage of the escape process across an underground tunnel. In addition, a member, who was said to be killed in an operation in Somalia when he was fighting within the ranks of the Al-Shabaab Movement, appeared in the video.

This growing appearance of elements, either belonging to Al-Qaeda or embracing its methodology, points out that Sudan may be on its way to a serious stage of confrontations with the groups, which developed under this regime and because of its practices. Such practices opened the door to extremist elements and produced an atmosphere of violence and hatred. No one knows where the country is going. There are examples of regimes which thought they could tame the extremist movements and use them to their own advantage whenever desired, but then found out they were wrong when the time was over.

Source: Al-Sharq al-Awsat website, London, in Arabic 16 Jan 13

© 2013 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.





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