Sudanese Extremist Cell Members Planned to Fight in Somalia

Khartoum — Members of an extremist cell uncovered in East Sudan were planning to travel to Somalia and join ranks of Islamic insurgents there, Sudan Tribune has learned.

The group who ran a training camp in the southeast region told police during investigations that they intended to launch "jihad" in Somalia.

A day after sources revealed to Sudan Tribune the incident, authorities announced that 25 Islamist extremists were detained following fierce clashes at Al-Dandar Wildlife Park in the central state of Sennar southeast of the capital Khartoum.

Sennar State governor, Ahmad Abbas, said at the time that only two were killed and four policemen were injured in the clashes but an account given by Sudan Tribune's spoke of at least 13 killed on the extremists side.

The detainees could face charges of forming a terrorist group, opposing government by force and undermining the state in addition to possession of illegal firearms which carries the maximum sentence of the death penalty.

In a related issue the head of the Islamic Fiqh council Esam al-Bashir at Friday sermon prayer slammed the group's ideology calling their beliefs "wrong" as it is violates Islamic rules to rebel against the legitimate ruler.

He pointed out that while the group members could be well intentioned with deep care for their religion he stressed that they are "lost" and lack proper guidance.

"They thought this would be their shortcut to heavens," al-Bashir said.

He called for a "intellectual security" initiative to prevent the propagation of radical views including terrorist cells as well as secular ideas.

There has been a significant increase in activities of Islamic extremist cells in Sudan over the years. In 2007, Sudanese authorities said that they have foiled a plot to blow up several Western embassies as well as UN building.

The year after that a an American USAID employee and his driver were killed in Khartoum by four men who belong to the Islamic militant group known as Ansar al-Tawhid which claimed responsibility for the killing.

In 2009 a Sudanese court ordered all of them hanged to death after finding them guilty of murdering the two men. But the convicts managed to escape later from the maximum security facility they were held in raising many questions about whether they received insider help.

Last year the family of one of the escapees said he was killed in Somalia without giving details.

Last month security sources in Mali said that foreign jihadists from countries such as Algeria and Sudan have arrived in north of the country to support armed Islamist groups who are imposing an increasingly brutal version of Shar'ia law in the vast northern areas under their control.

Sudan has welcomed Bin Laden in the 1990's but expelled him in 1996 under intense US pressure. Since 2001 the Sudanese intelligence cooperated with the US law enforcement agencies to track down suspected terrorists in East Africa.

The US added Sudan to its state terror list in 1993, accusing Khartoum of harboring local and international militants but as a result of counter terrorism cooperation promised to de-list it pending political settlement to civil conflicts in the country.

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