Sudanese media are actively discussing information that in 2018 Sudanese intelligence was recruiting Al-Qaeda fighters for the war in Libya on the side of the Government of National Unity (GNA).
On February 12, a video interview with a Sudanese intelligence officer was distributed via social media. A security officer who wished to remain anonymous, said the militants had received three months of training at Al-Shamali camp in the Northern State.
A Sudanese intelligence spokesman said there were around 800 to 1 000 militants in the camp at one time, who had gone to Libya after training. The majority of the fighters were Sudanese, although the source alleges that they also came from Somalia. According to the former Sudanese intelligence official, among the possible future commanders of the camp were Khalifa Khadia, Osama al-Juwayli and Rauf Kara.
Shaaban Khalifa Hadia in Libya is Deputy Secretary of the Government GNA. He was arrested in Egypt a few years ago on suspicion of having ties to Al-Qaeda but was soon released after Egyptian diplomats kidnapped him in Libya.
Osama al-Juwayli is another known field commander associated with the GNA. His subordinates have been accused of massacring soldiers of the with the competing GNA Libyan National Army of General Khalifa Haftar.
Also in the past, Osama al-Juwayli was spotted in the company of field commander Wissam bin Hamid, a military commander on the Benghazi Council of the Shura of Revolutionaries, an alliance of radical Sunni jihadist groups led by Ansar al-Sharia. This group has been known for organising the 2012 attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi.
Rauf Kara is the leader of the armed Salafist (Madkhalist) group RADA (Special Deterrence Force), which is also formally part of the NTC force units. Rauf Kara controls Mitiga prison, known for the mistreatment of prisoners and detainees.
On 14 January 2020, an attempted coup d’état took place in the Sudan, led by members of the main intelligence agency, the Muhabarat. After the failure of the coup, documents began to appear on the Internet denouncing the Sudanese intelligence service’s cooperation with Al-Qaida terrorists.
On 4 February this year, a user named “Khaled Ismail” posted photos on Facebook of documents that confirmed the links between the Libyan GNA and Al-Qaida. Thus, the document entitled “Report on interaction between cells of the terrorist organization Al-Qaida operating in the territory of the Republic of the Sudan and Libyan gangs” noted that al-Qaeda from the Sudan constitute one third of all mercenaries fighting on the side of the GNA in Libya.
It was noted that Sudanese Islamists were closely associated with Libyan groups such as Al-Taqfir Wah al-Hijra and the Osama Juwayli Brigades (both linked to Osama Juwayli, as well as the Al-Fajr group, linked to the “Operational Staff of the Libyan Revolutionaries)” headed by Shaban Hadia, with links to Abd al-Rauf Qara and RADA). According to these documents, fighters from Sudan were transported to Libya via Turkey.
The revelations by a former intelligence officer corroborate this information and reveal the role of Sudanese intelligence itself in facilitating the transfer of terrorists to Libya. In particular, it was noted that the recruitment of units from al-Qaeda fighters to participate in the Libyan war, was supervised by the intelligence leadership.
During the 1990s, the Sudan harbored Osama bin Laden, the founder of Al-Qaeda. There were terrorist training bases in the country. It is not surprising that the Sudanese security services maintained good contacts with the former wards and apparently decided to earn money by recruiting Islamists for the war in Libya on the side of the GNA.
At the same time, the interested participation of other countries in this scheme has not yet been ruled out. First of all, the United States is interested in maintaining chaos in Libya, including as an instrument of pressure against Europe.
Back in 2005, the Los Angeles Times reported with reference to a State Department source that the US intelligence believed that the Sudanese “Mukhabarat could become a ‘top tier’ partner of the CIA as far as terrorist organizations are concerned”.
It is revealing that in February 2018, Salah Abdullah Mohamed Saleh, also known as Salah Ghosh, who was actively cooperating with Washington after the attacks of September 11, returned to the leadership of Sudanese intelligence. In 2012, he was arrested for preparing a coup d’état. It was under Ghosh that Al-Qaida terrorists were transferred from the Sudan to Libya, according to Sudanese intelligence documents.
In addition to sending the militants, according to a former employee of the security services of Sudan, oil was smuggled through the Muhabarat from Libya while gold and weapons were sent to Libya in exchange.
This information was also confirmed by other intelligence documents that were made available on Sudanese social networks. One of them refers to the deployment of “specialist staff” in the Shamali camp in the Northern State.
Another document, dated 12 October 2018, ordered the transportation of four groups of fighters – in total 300 militants – from Sudan to Libya from the Shamali camp.
The online publication of Muhabarat documents and the confirmation thereof by a former intelligence officer, have sparked a strong reaction in the Sudan. Professor Ahmed Hassan, an expert on international relations and political scientist, said in a comment to Sudan-Press that former President Omar Bashir was involved in a scheme to transport terrorists to Libya because he had worked closely with Turkey and Qatar.
There are other sources that confirm the ties of the Government of National Accord with Al-Qaida mediated by Turkey. Thus, in early February, LNA representative Brigadier General Ahmed al-Mismari said that Turkey had transferred some 1 500 to 2 000 al-Qaeda fighters from Syria to Libya. Ankara does not hide that it has been transferring militants from Syria to Libya either.
Last August, another representative of the LNA, Khalid Al-Mahjou, said that “terrorists and mercenaries” were being transferred from Turkey “via the Libyan Wings Airline, owned by Islamist militant Abdelhakim Belhaj”.
In February, the Associated Press reported that Turkey was transferring militants associated with both al-Qaeda and ISIS to Libya to take part in fighting on the GNA side. Sources in Libya confirmed this information to journalists.
Even Rami Abdurrahman, director of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which usually supports pro-Turkish militants in Syria, confirmed that his network had identified at least 130 former al-Qaeda and ISIS militants among the reinforcements that have been deployed to help Sarraj.
The overthrow of the Muammar Al-Qadhafi regime in Libya paved the way for strengthening the terrorists in the region. So back in 2011, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, said that thanks to the civil war in Libya his militants received thousands of weapons. In addition, Belmokhtar acknowledged “the ideological links” that exist between his structure and young Islamist fighters from Libya.
These developments have resulted in a massacre that continues to this day. Libya has become a haven and “working field” for thousands of homegrown and foreign terrorists. Libya saw the birth of ISIS, whose stronghold for a long time was the city of Sirte. On 15 February 2015, the world was shocked by ISIS’s published video of the execution of 21 Egyptian Christians previously abducted in Sirte.
Libyan terrorists have also made it to Europe. On 22 May 2017, Libyan Salman Ramadan Abedi blew himself up at a concert of American singer Ariana Grande in Manchester where 22 people were killed.
European leaders regularly meet with the representatives of the GNA, declaring its legality as well as recognition by the UN. However, it is this government, together with its external sponsors (primarily Turkey), that has been creating a new danger for Europe by concentrating the militants of the terrorist organisations Al Qaeda and ISIS on its territory.
Sarraj has used the Islamists as the last straw to hold onto his power, but where will they go after the fall of his regime? Will they not end up as political refugees in Europe, as they did with Salman Abedi’s parents?
All above mentioned documents were made available to FWM.