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Sunday, 06 May 2018

The CISSA Meetings in Khartoum: Sudan’s Boastful Record in Combating Terrorism

Spreading like a dangerous cancer that knows no borders, cutting across all the regions

, the proliferation threat of terrorism has truly become a global problem that needs to be dealt with, with all strength and determination.
Grappling with an enemy increasingly unidentifiable and uneasy to locate, countering terrorism in the world of today, increasingly mandated a coordinated multilateral approach, as transnational terrorism can never be defeated in isolation.. Greater focus has been placed on intelligence sharing, which allows nations to predict the otherwise unpredictable.
In this context came the participation and the gathering of African intelligence chiefs and experts, representing 27 countries in Khartoum (from 3-5 April), to take part in an important workshop for the Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), at which inter alia, the issue of countering terrorism, was on the top agenda.
To fill close any existing vacuum in the continental security architecture on intelligence matters, the CISSA, which was originally a hallmark Sudanese initiative held its first forum in August 2004 in Abuja, Nigeria.  This was born out of the compelling need to assist the African Union (AU) to deal effectively with multifaceted intelligence and security challenges confronting the continent. It should be noted here that the CISSA which operates under the umbrella of the African Union's Peace and Security Council, is   comprised today of more than 45 African security and intelligence services.
The importance of Khartoum’s meeting emanates from the fact that it comes at a time when for many, the security of the continent is at stake; the ongoing conflicts in Libya, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria, threatened by militant extremist groups have increased in recent years. Expectedly, the meeting was concluded with calls for greater cross-border cooperation and the need to find African solutions to African security issues.
African countries with their limited material and logistical capabilities will be unable to cope individually with the new manifestations and dimensions of terrorism and transnational organized crimes. Unilateral endeavor besides it would certainly overburden and drain its economies in terms of defense and preemptive costs, however and more importantly, such endeavor is bound to fall far short in reducing its respective vulnerability in the face of the unsparing terrorist attacks.
Premised on the contention that Africa has got both the will and the capacity to deal with its troubled spots, the CISSA forum is a sort of a homegrown solution, an important coalition building and collective action, with procedures and mechanisms that allow information sharing on a regular and timely basis. Trying to align Africa’s operational efforts to the best accomplish a common shared mission.
Sudan’s counterterrorism efforts;

Arguably, and contrary to some hostile western misconceptions and negative stereotyping, Sudan has always been at the forefront of nations combatting scourge of terrorism. Sudan has always upheld the understanding that terrorism has no identity and no religion, thereby needs to be rejected and denounced strongly in all its forms and manifestations. Likewise, Sudan strongly believes that terrorists are committing these acts, out of their deviant ideologies and evil thought.
In fact, the Sudan from the very outset - as shall be highlighted below- was one of the first countries that paid great attention to the phenomenon of terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations.
Ironically, what too often goes unacknowledged, Sudan was also a pioneer in drawing the attention to not only the importance of reaching a common understanding and consensus on the definition of terrorism but also the importance of the collective work to address the problem of terrorism, even before many other countries were actually alarmed by the said phenomenon (the CISSA forum remains an impassible testimony to such claim)
In 1998, in the aftermath of Al-Shiffa factory in Khartoum, where innocent victims fallen as a result of a terrorist act by a super-Power, Sudan with the support of The Non-Aligned Movement, the African Group, the Arab Group and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which strongly condemned the barbaric aggression against the pharmaceutical and veterinary factory in Khartoum, was able to mobilize huge momentum which eventually culminated in the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly to convene an international conference to define terrorism.
In other words the resolution in support of Sudan and the resolution of the Non-Aligned Summit in Durban in 1998, established a high-level international conference to prepare an organized response by the international community to the phenomenon of terrorism, taking into account that terrorist activities of military forces of the State or State terrorism , should not be excluded from the scope of any convention.
In fact, Sudan's official counterterrorism activity began when the Khartoum Declaration on Combating Terrorism and Organized Crime was launched at the IGAD Summit held in Khartoum in 2002 and was subsequently adopted the Addis Ababa Summit in 2003. The Counter-Terrorism Plan in the Region was initiated by the Sudan.
Again, in 2003, the Sudanese Government also took steps to strengthen its legislative and bureaucratic instruments for fighting terrorism by ratifying the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Sudan also ratified the African Union's Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism and the Convention of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on Combating Terrorism. In June, Sudanese Minister of Justice by then; Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin, issued a decree establishing an office for combating terrorism.
Likewise, A workshop on international cooperation on counter-terrorism and the fight against transnational organized crime was organized by the Government of the Sudan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Khartoum from 17 to 19 January 2004; The Khartoum Declaration of May 2004. Khartoum’s Declaration reflected the seriousness of Sudan in combating terrorism and strengthening its international efforts to combat terrorism.

The landmark testimony before the Congress in 2009, of General J Scott Gration, the US's presidential envoy to Sudan, was more revealing. Gration called upon his Administration to remove Sudan from the US state department's state sponsor of terrorism list. The general noted unequivocally, that there was "no evidence" for Sudan's inclusion on the list, which he called a "political" (rather than a national security-related) decision; reminding the Congress that, the CIA has already, referred to Sudan's strong record on counterterrorism co-operation as having "saved American lives".
On August 2016, Khartoum in collaboration with the Arab League, hosted another important workshop on the role of religious discourse in the face of terrorism, the choice of Khartoum as a venue is not accidental. The Sudan has a pioneering and exemplary experience in handling cases of those involved in violence or facing the danger of radicalization. One of the most important recommendations of the said Forum has been the need revise school syllabuses to ensure that a message of religious tolerance and understanding is ingrained, retraining of imams and religious community leaders and enlisting them in spreading enlightened interpretations of texts and resorting to debate with those suspected of radicalization.
Again, and in translation of Sudan’s invariable position toward combatting terrorism,  the Sudan’s Charge d’ Affairs in Washington, in a recent interview has clearly stated that Sudan has been eager to forge closer ties with American and European intelligence agencies, offering to act as  a hub for Western-led counterterrorism operations against the Islamic State and other indigenous Islamic extremist groups.
Interestingly, again on October 2015, and in recognition of Sudan sincere efforts combatting all the manifestations of terrorism, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has removed Sudan from the list of countries, with strategic deficiencies in their legal and regulatory framework for combating money laundering and terrorism. Whereby, Sudan has become no longer, subject to FATF’s monitoring under its ongoing global AML/CFT compliance process.
Sudan has shown no hesitation in joining the new “Islamic and military” anti-terrorism coalition led by Saudi Arabia, amid calls on MENA countries to step up efforts to fight militant groups like ISIL. That shows the keenness of the Sudanese Government to fight this disease, which affected the Islamic world equally with the international community as a whole
Apart from that, Sudan today is in the heart of the “Decisive Storm Operation” for reinstatement of the legitimacy in Yemen. It should be noted here that the legitimate government of Yemeni President Hadi, has already requested the United Nations Security Council to designate Houthi militias as “terrorists”.
The bottom line here is that continuing to accuse Sudan of sponsoring terrorism, is not only irresponsible but also - as has been duly revealed and elucidated- consistently fails the litmus test.  In other words; those who accuse Sudan of condoning extremism do fail to acknowledge Sudan’s longstanding record in combating terrorism in its region and beyond.