Home | News    Tuesday 31 August 2010

CIA training and equipping Sudan’s intelligence agents: report

August 30, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is continuing to train agents of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) as part of its global fight against terrorist networks, according to a news report.

The Washington Post quoted intelligence officials with intimate knowledge of the CIA-NISS relationship as indicating that the CIA continues to provide training and equipments to Sudanese security services.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a former intelligence official who served in Sudan said that “the U.S. government is training the Sudanese intelligence services and conducting bilateral operations with them — all in the name of the long war.”

“Certainly,” the former official added, “the CIA is providing training” to the NISS. The source said that he suspects that the training “was begun in the very early days after September 11.”

He went on to explain that in the beginning, the training was highly covert and kept secret even from CIA personnel in the embassy because of “concerns over Sudan’s grievous human rights record.”

The official further said that the training sessions “were probably done outside the country.” He revealed that “there also have been transfers of equipment, including computers, etcetera.”

Sudan’s strong intelligence cooperation with the CIA on counterterrorism has not been reciprocated publically or diplomatically as the US continues to designate the country as “a state sponsor of terrorism” and impose economic sanctions.

The US’s 2009’s Country Report on Terrorism, which was released on earlier this month retained Sudan on the terrorism blacklist despite acknowledging the continuation of “solid” bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation. The report also noted that Sudanese officials view continued cooperation with the CIA “as important and recognize potential benefits of US training and information sharing”.

Similarly, Sudan has not been discreet about its relationship with the CIA. Former spy chief Salah Gosh told the Los Angeles Times: "We have a strong partnership with the CIA. The information we have provided has been very useful to the United States".

In 2007 Gosh in an apparent bid to silence hard-line Islamist voices within the regime said that the cooperation with the CIA prevented a destructive backlash by the US in the wake of September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.

He stressed that the work with the CIA is "not at the expense of Islamic public opinion in Sudan” and spoke of differences with the US spy agency over combating terrorism.

Another former US intelligence official said that the “CIA-NISS partnership began even earlier, in the Clinton administration,” adding that it is "incredibly valuable."

"We have had a long term relationship with the Sudanese, even when they closed the embassy for a short period in the late 90s," he added.

"We do not do much training with the Sudanese, except in the field of counterterrorism, and they have been an exceptional partner in helping us against the terrorist target," he said.

The CIA’s curriculum with the NISS "is pretty much the same as regular humint/CO [human intelligence/case officer] training, with a focus on targeting the terrorist, i.e., setting up meetings in secure places with surveillance and counter-surveillance, knowing what info to look for, keeping all pocket litter, not allowing them to erase cell phones or computers," the former official said. "It also involves ’take downs’ of terrorists or their organizations."

The former intelligence officer who served in Sudan said the CIA flew Salah Gosh the former head of the NISS – who he described as “up to his butt in the genocide in Darfur" - to the US in 2005.

News of the visit was leaked forcing the Bush administration at the time to limit meetings with the Sudanese spy chief and even contemplated arresting him.

In July human rights campaigners Amnesty International accused the NISS of, “carrying out a brutal campaign of killings, torture, arbitrary detentions, and mental and physical intimidation against opponents and critics of the government."

They also alleged that the NISS use a variety of methods to torture people including: “beating detainees while held upside down against a wall, electric shocks, whipping, sleep deprivation, kicking and stamping on detainees and beating them with water pipes."

According to the report in the Washington Post one US official claimed that working with the NISS, “has been one tool our government has used to try to influence the Sudanese in terms of human rights and the rule of law”.

The US is well aware of Sudan’s human rights record, the official said.

"We’re not blind" to what happens in Sudan, said a senior administration official, adding "everybody understands what’s going on there." He threatened that "If the Sudanese go outside the box," he maintained, "we can pull the plug."