Full Name: Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein
Current Position: Sudan’s Minister for Defence
Date of Birth:
Born: Dongola, Northern State, Sudan
EARLY LIFE & CAREER
Now famous because of the recent issue of an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant in his name, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein probably has greater Islamist credentials that any other member of the current military, with the exception of Omar Hassan al-Bashir himself. Born in Dongola, he was indoctrinated at secondary school in 1964, where he also met and became close friends with al-Bashir for the first time.
After entering the Sudanese Air Force he became a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood’s military cell from the 1970s onwards. He played a major role in effecting the coup that brought al-Bashir to power in 1989, and became the secretary-general the Revolutionary Command Council that ruled the country in the first four years of the ‘Salvation Regime’ (al-Inqadh).
He was a close confidante of al-Bashir, who appointed him minister of interior in 1993. In this position, he dominated the internal security services and was alleged to have worked directly with al-Qa’eda during Osama bin Laden’s period in Sudan, providing them with sophisticated communications equipment.
Hussein remained a firm supporter of al-Bashir following the latter’s rift with Hassan al-Turabi, the ideological grandfather of the Sudanese political Islam, in 1999. Three years after the clash that torn the Islamic Movement apart, Hussein admitted the regime’s intellectual and political debt to al-Turabi but argued that ‘the sons have differed with the father and now we are protecting him and protecting the state which he built and protecting his thought...it did not please us to put our shaikh in prison, but we wanted to protect him and protect his efforts and his struggle’.
INVOLVEMENT IN DARFUR
In 2003, al-Bashir appointed Hussein as his special representative for Darfur, a position he held until 2004. It was the policies he implemented in Darfur at this time that would later lead the ICC to issue a warrant for Hussein’s arrest.
In December 2011, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked the judges to order the arrest of Hussein saying that he is among those who "bear greatest criminal responsibility" for atrocities in the Sudan’s western region of Darfur from August 2003 to March 2004 at the height of the conflict.
The ICC stated on 1 March 2012 that there were sufficient grounds to hold Hussein responsible for 20 counts of crimes against humanity, including persecution and rape, and 21 counts of war crimes, including murder and attacks on civilians.
The warrant for Hussein’s arrest said "that in his role as Minister of the Interior and Special Representative of the President in Darfur and as an influential member of the Government of the Republic of the Sudan, Mr. Hussein made essential contributions to the formulation and implementation of the common plan, inter alia, through his overall coordination of national, state and local security entities and through the recruitment, arming and funding of the police forces and the Militia/Janjaweed in Darfur".
"These crimes were allegedly committed against the primarily Fur populations of the towns of Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar, Arawala and surrounding areas by the Sudanese armed forces and the Militia/Janjaweed in the context of a counter-insurgency campaign against the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and other groups opposing the Government. The plan of the counter-insurgency campaign was allegedly formulated at the highest levels of the Government of the Republic of the Sudan and had allegedly as a core component an unlawful attack on that part of the civilian population perceived by the Government as being close to the rebel groups".
Nevertheless, Hussein continues to be regarded as one of the most powerful figures within the regime. He is now al-Bashir’s minister of defence, having lost his job as minister of interior after the national assembly demanded his resignation following a scandal caused by the collapse of a police hospital he owned in 2005. This has not always been a comfortable position for him – in May 2008, he faced calls for his resignation from his new post due to security failures in the build-up to Khalil Ibrahim’s JEM attack on Omdurman.
Moreover, he has recently been faced with a great deal of dissent amongst senior army officers who have demanded that the Sudan Armed Forces be made more independent from the NCP. Unsurprisingly, he is not one of those in the regime who is sympathetic towards the notion of a rapprochement with the West. He recently consoled the family of one of the killers of the US Diplomat John Granville following the death of the young militant in Somalia.
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