U.S. Officials Say Israel Struck in Sudan
Posted by musliminsuffer on March 28, 2009
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
=== News Update ===
U.S. Officials Say Israel Struck in Sudan
Israeli officials refused to confirm or deny the attack, but intelligence analysts noted that the strike was consistent with other measures Israel had taken to secure its borders.
American officials said the airstrike took place as Israel sought to stop the flow of weapons to Gaza during the weeks it was fighting a war with Hamas there.
Two American officials who are privy to classified intelligence assessments said that Iran had been involved in the effort to smuggle weapons to Gaza. They also noted that there had been intelligence reports that an operative with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had gone to Sudan to coordinate the effort.
But one former official said that the exact provenance of the arms that were being smuggled via Sudan was unclear.
Although the airstrike was carried out two months ago, it was not publicized until Sudanese officials said Thursday that a convoy of trucks in the remote eastern part of Sudan was bombed by what they called “American fighters,” killing dozens. The strikes were first reported on several Internet-based news sites, including cbsnews.com.
The area where the Sudanese said the attack occurred, near Port Sudan on the Red Sea, is an isolated patch of eastern Sudan near the Egyptian border and a notorious smuggling route, populated mostly by nomads and known as one of the poorest, least developed parts of a very poor, underdeveloped country.
The Sudanese said the reports emerged now because it took time to fully investigate the strike. But an accusation from one government official that the attack was an American act of genocide raised the possibility that the Sudanese were lashing out because the International Criminal Court had issued a warrant for the arrest of their president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on war-crimes charges in the conflict in Darfur.
The official, Rabie A. Atti, a government spokesman, also gave a death toll in the attack that was higher than the 39 reported in other secondhand accounts. Mr. Rabie said by telephone from Khartoum, the capital, that “more than 100 people” had been killed in the air raid. He said the trucks that were bombed were not carrying weapons. “I’ve heard this allegation, but it’s not true,” he said. “It was a genocide, committed by U.S. forces.”
When asked how he knew the forces were American, Mr. Rabie said: “We don’t differentiate between the U.S. and Israel. They are all one.”
Vince Crawley, a spokesman for the United States Africa Command, said American forces had not bombed Sudan. “The U.S. military has not conducted any airstrikes, fired any missiles or undertaken any combat operations in or around Sudan since October 2008, when U.S. Africa Command formally became responsible for U.S. military action in Africa,” he said.
The American officials who described the Israeli role declined to be identified because they were discussing classified information and were not authorized to speak for the Obama administration. One American military official said the January strike was one of a series of Israeli attacks against arms shipments bound for Gaza.
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, did not comment specifically on the reported bombing. But he said in a speech on Thursday in Israel that when it came to security, “we operate wherever it is possible to harm terror infrastructure, near and far.”
Shlomo Brom, a retired general at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said it would be “very logical” to assume that Israel would have wanted to bomb a weapons convoy in Sudan. “It fits exactly with the pattern of how Israel operates,” he said.
Israeli officials say that most of the weapons smuggled to Gaza flow through a labyrinth of tunnels running beneath the Egypt-Gaza border.
Israel has blamed Iran for supplying many of these weapons, especially the rockets that Hamas has fired at Israeli civilians. Israeli military analysts said that eastern Sudan could have been a little-watched backdoor for Iranian weapons to reach Gaza.
Hossam Zaki, a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, said: “How do we know these are weapons to be smuggled and destined to go to Gaza through Egypt? These are only intelligence reports.” Asked if he had information about the strikes at the time the Sudanese said they had happened, he said, “We had our intelligence as well,” and refused to elaborate further.
Israel is no stranger to daring military operations when it concludes its security is threatened. It has a history of attacking enemies far from its territory. Israeli Air Force planes destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, and in 2007 they destroyed a site in Syria that Israeli and American intelligence analysts said was a partly constructed nuclear reactor. Israel never officially acknowledged that it was responsible for the Syrian strike.
Mr. Rabie, the Sudanese spokesman, implied that his government might have more to say on the episode. He said the government waited two months to go public because “we were doing investigations.
BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW