Sudan: Al-Qaeda Announces Formation of Student Wing

Khartoum — The organization Al-Qaeda in Sudan announced yesterday the birth of its student wing in the University of Khartoum in a new sign of growing extremist influence in the country.

The Main Street in Al-Wasat complex in Khartoum witnessed a public address on Wednesday afternoon by what appeared to be Al-Qaeda sympathizers who spoke on "The preceding Jihad in the Land of Two Niles".

The speakers said they disagree with the ultra-conservative Ansar al-Sunna Salafist group in Sudan but they do not consider them blasphemous. They also expressed readiness to conduct a dialogue with secularists.

They denied that Al-Qaeda group is being pursued by the Sudanese security and rejected their labeling as extremists saying that the US is behind this adding that they adhere to the Quran and Sunna of the Prophet.

Ansar al-Sunna group is known to call for loyalty to the ruler and renounce the use of arms and violence against the government. This is in contrast to the more extreme Salafist ideology which calls for uprooting regimes that do not strictly adhere to Islamic Shar'ia law.

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.

Late last year Sudanese authorities dismissed a training camp harboring extremist elements who reportedly planned to head to Somalia to launch Jihad.

In November 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.

A former U.S. official told Sudan Tribune yesterday that they lack specific information on the extent and reach of extremist groups in Sudan and the threat they pose.

Sudan has welcomed Al-Qaeda late leader Osama 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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