Home | News    Thursday 10 January 2013

U.S. believed killers of USAID employee in Sudan received inside help to escape: ex-official


January 9, 2013 (WASHINGTON) – The United States had intelligence suggesting that four men sentenced to death over the 2008 assassination of a USAID employee in Sudan in were assisted in their escape by officials inside the maximum-security prison they were kept in, a former U.S. official said.

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FILE - Four Sudanese convicts lift their handcuffs as they are escorted out of the courtroom in the capital Khartoum, June 24, 2009 (Reuters)

The four convicts whose names were Mohamed Makkawi, Abdel-Basit Haj al-Hassan, Mohannad Osman Youssef, Abdel-Ra’uf Abu-Zaid Mohamed Hamza and Murad Abdel-Rahman Abdullah appeared on a YouTube video released last month detailing their escape plan from Kober prison in the summer of 2010.

They claimed to have dug a 38 meters (125 feet) tunnel through the floors of a kitchen room all the way to outside the prison walls. Portions of the video were filmed in broad daylight from inside the prison and a footage of the tunnel was shown.

The Sudanese government later re-arrested Hamza while the family of Youssef said he was killed in Somalia without giving details.

"We thought it was highly unlikely," the former US. official told Sudan Tribune when asked about whether Washington at the time believed the convicts could have simply done on their own.

The official who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to freely discuss intelligence matters said that Washington later obtained information that the prisoners received inside help from prison guards.

What the U.S. did not have was evidence linking anyone in the Sudanese government to the assisted escape even though they had "great suspicion" that this was the case.

The four Sudanese men, described as "Islamic extremists" by the prosecution, were charged with the killing of John Granville, of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and his driver, Abdurrahman Abbas Rahma on 2008 New Years Eve.

On Tuesday the U.S. announced that it is offering a total of $10 million for information leading to the arrest of two remaining fugitives who remain at large.

The ex-U.S. official said the killing of their diplomat highlighted the formidable intelligence challenges when it came to assessing terrorism risks in Sudan.

"This [assassination incident] wasn’t expected. We had no information on a specific threat" said the official who intimately involved in Sudan matters over the last decade.

"We had very little access to Sudan and very few operatives [on the ground] so we had to rely on the host government," the official said.

The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) he said was "far more concerned with political risks versus terrorism risks" making it extremely difficult for the U.S. to view them as reliable.

Furthermore the NISS did not have monitoring capabilities, adding that even though the spy agency may appear sophisticated by Sudan’s standards the intelligence community in the U.S. did not view them so.

Asked whether Washington provided them with tools to upgrade their capabilities in the context of the counterterrorism cooperation that existed, he said that a decision was made not to do so.

"We provided them very little technical support out of concern that it could be used against their political foes," the official said.

He also strongly cautioned against exaggerating the level of intelligence cooperation that was in place between NISS and the U.S. as suggested by media reports since the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York in September 2001.

"It is true that there was a period of time as in 2002, 2003 and 2004 when intelligence cooperation with NISS went up but that has to be put in context....It is relative as it [counterterrorism ties] went from nothing to something" the official said.

He said that the U.S. intelligence cooperation with Sudan is nowhere near the one that exists with Jordan for example.

The intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and Sudan was publicly exposed in 2005 when the Los Angeles Times disclosed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent a jet in April 2005 to Khartoum to ferry former NISS chief Salah Gosh into Washington for meetings.

The same newspaper revealed in 2007 that Sudan has secretly worked with the CIA to spy on the insurgency in Iraq despite the strained relations with Washington over the Darfur crisis.

Ironically Sudan has been under the U.S. blacklist of states sponsoring terrorism since 1993 on allegations of harboring Islamist militants.

Sudan is also subject to comprehensive economic sanctions since 1997 over terrorism charges as well as human right abuses. Further sanctions, particularly on weapons, have been imposed since the 2003 outbreak of violence in the western Darfur region.

The Sudanese government did not allow U.S. investigators to get access to the four men and were only briefed verbally by an NISS official on the outcome of the interrogations, the official said.

The U.S. was interested in finding what the capacity of those behind the assassination and the kind of funding they received as well as the links they had, he said.

Sudan on the other hand did not move on the terrorist cell out of making the U.S. happy but rather out of concern that there is an unknown group inside the country that could pose a potential threat to the regime.

The U.S. nonetheless provided Sudan with vital intelligence that enabled them to nab the culprits behind the assignation of the USAID official.

"They looked where we told them to look," the official said without elaborating.


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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 10 January 2013 10:34, by william mawien

    Terrorism terrorism evry day in sudan iraq iran syria ;;;;;;;what is killing killing every day in sudan iraq iran syria ;;;;what is wrong with gay arabs ;;;;;did exsis in the world to kill people ?national criminal party
    leader; bashir gay
    assistant;nafi nafi gay
    vice ;;osman tah gay
    what is all that?

    repondre message

    • 10 January 2013 12:10, by Big Boy

      Yes Willy, those Islam they are casing the world leader’s problem.i don’t know how do they die like chicken at pan fry!!!! what benefit do they get after they committe the murder.

      repondre message

      • 10 January 2013 14:40, by no peace with north

        You know what Big Boy muslim said when they reach into heaven each of them will get ten virgin girls that is a why the killing is very easy to them hoping meaningless theory of gay mohamade even when they go t frontline they have to carry a key for opening the house when they die and reach heaven each of them will have one house with ten virgin girls inside I don’t know what about the women what

        repondre message

      • 10 January 2013 14:54, by no peace with north

        are they going to get when man getting ten virgins woman will get what? when she die. Bible said God created one man and one woman when feeling love two of them will become one flesh what Qoran said and how come one man marry too many wives? even one can imagin before you join Islamic if you are real human is because Arab created primative they don’t have common sense at all period.

        repondre message

    • 10 January 2013 15:15, by Joseph Canada

      My friend, this is what this religion do in the name of going to Heaven. Don’t you remember in the previous article " those in the side of the rebel go to Hell ad those in the side of the government go to Heaven"? What a perfect way to lie to un educated!!

      repondre message

      • 10 January 2013 16:42, by zulu

        It is important for the US to distance itself from the SUdan. The pretentious attitude Sudan is projecting has to be watched with utmost alertness lest, the world could be decieved like the UA, South SUdan and the peacekeeping forces in Darfur, who are there ironically protecting SAF from rebel attacks.

        repondre message

    • 11 January 2013 08:28, by Dinkawarrior

      Every South Sudanese know that the National Criminal Party(NCP)is an gent of evil, whatever messes or crimes committed in the whole Sudan is connected to it. U.S need to be careful about North Sudan’s relationship now a day, it has no values as it used to be. As long as South Sudan is out there, there is no more hope. North Sudan is a crap country!

      repondre message

  • 10 January 2013 17:54, by Badi Malawi

    Bashir must appear b4 de court becoz he is de 1 who asign these alqaedas 2 kil UN diplomat

    repondre message

  • 10 January 2013 19:47, by barbayo

    USA,made with criminal ,Arab are primative they said if kill some body you go to heaven , by which sense, secruity agents took them out in prison. US suppose to distance themselves from criminal Arab

    repondre message

  • 11 January 2013 04:05, by 4Justice

    Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the major media destroy information and religions destroy spirituality...." —Michael Ellner

    “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” — Revelation 12:9

    “ Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” — Revelation 12:12

    repondre message

  • 3 April 2013 11:16, by stefan

    God created one man and one woman when feeling love two of them will become one flesh what Qoran said and how come one man marry too many wives? even one can imagin before you join Islamic if you are real human grza?ki do e-papierosów
    is because Arab created primative they don’t have common sense at all period.

    repondre message

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