29 November 2012

Sudan: Detained Ex-Spy Chief Hospitalized After 'Heart Attack'

Photo: AlJazeera
Sudanese president Omar al Bashir (file photo).

Khartoum — The embattled former chief of Sudan's security apparatus, Salah Gosh, was transferred from detention to a hospital in a critical condition after he experienced "a severe heart attack", government sources told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

Gosh, the former director-general of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), was being detained on accusation of planning what the authorities describe as a "coup" attempt that was allegedly foiled in the early hours of 22 November.

The government said it also arrested 12 other individuals in connection with the alleged putsch, including Brigadier General Mohamed Ibrahim Abdel-Galil "Wad Ibrahim" from the Sudanese army (SAF) and Major General Adil Al-Tayeb from the NISS.

Sources close to the government told Sudan Tribune that a state of tension has spread across security circles after Gosh suffered a severe heart attack while in detention and was rushed to the NISS-linked Al-Amal Hospital in Khartoum.

The authorities beefed up security around the hospital and later allowed Gosh's wife, after high-level contacts with top state officials, to visit him.

According to the sources, the sudden health condition was likely the result of the great amounts of cigarettes that the ex-spy chief consumed since he was taken into custody. They noted that Gosh is a serious smoker and had suffered a similar condition during his tenure as NISS chief. They added that the doctors instructed him back then to quit smoking but he did not.

Gosh's brother, Abdel Azim Abdella, told reporters that their family "fears for [Gosh's] life because he already has heart problems" and is now "in the hands of his enemies. He confirmed that the authorities allowed his wife and two of his daughters to see him.

Meanwhile, the authorities barred the defense committee of the coup attempt detainees from holding a press conference on Thursday. They are also yet to respond to a request from the committee to meet the detainees.

Sudan Tribune sources said they expect the NISS to announce the results of the investigations by Sunday, 2 November.

Gosh's arrest marked the downfall of the once powerful spy chief who is better known for his deep cooperation with the United States on counter-terrorism following September 2001 attacks in Washington and New York. He was surprisingly dismissed from his position in 2009 before being appointed as a presidential adviser for security.

But last year he was abruptly sacked by President Bashir from the position following an imbroglio between him and the powerful presidential assistant Nafe Ali Nafe over dialogue with opposition parties. He was later stripped of his position within the NCP and only maintained his seat in the parliament.

Some NCP insiders suggested that Gosh had nothing to do with the attempt and was arrested to discredit the true plotters of the coup given his reputation of cooperation with the CIA. Abdel Wahab El Effendi, a dissident Islamist, claimed in an op-ed he published this week that Wad Ibrahim appears to be the mastermind of the coup and that Gosh was arrested to tarnish the image of the plotters.

El-Effendi based his argument on the claim that Gosh has no known links to the puritan Islamist dissidents of the NCP known as Al-Sae'ohoon which is believed to be behind the coup.

A member of Al-Sae'ohoon, Al-Mu'iz Abdallah, made the same suggestion in an interview last week, citing what he claimed was the fact that president Al-Bashir told a member of Al-Sahioon before that Wad Ibrahim contributed to the foiling of previous coup attempts by Gosh.

Al-Sae'ohoon has been vocal recently over reform demands and expressed bitterness that the NCP leadership has softened stance on Islamic principles and gave too many concessions to South Sudan in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), while allowing for army to suffer military setbacks.

A memo released by Al-Sae'ohoon in response to the arrests urged president Bashir to release those detained and described them as the safety valve of the 1989 coup since its inception all through the battles of Heglig this year.

The group underscored that those taken into custody were never carried away by earthly pleasures of power.

The memo blasted defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein saying he bears responsibility for army failures in relation to South Sudan, Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) rebels and airstrikes carried out by Israel inside the country that recently targeted a weapons factory in Khartoum.

They went on to say that Hussein sent several generals into retirement only because they expressed their views and provided advice. "[Hussein] is stirring trouble with [former] head of Sudan's armored corps Brigadier General Sideeg Fadl [who is] security valve of the [1989] revolution".

"We are all waiting to see what will decisions will emerge [from you] and you must know for sure that they [detainees] all love you and endear you and have respect for you but your defense minister left them with no option but this one" said the memo.

Bashir has long resisted calls for sacking his defense minister over corruption charges and defeats on the battlefield. Hussein came under fire last April for the ease at which Sudan army lost Heglig oilfield to South Sudan.

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