Was the plant in Khartoum a weapons factory?

Chemical and biological weapons factories have to have certain safeguards involved with level four handling of extremely toxic materials, if for no other reason than to keep their staffers alive long enough to complete their tasks, and not poison the people living and working next door.

Note the following.

This is the front of the facility with a sign identifying it as a pharmacuetical company. I know the sign is meaningless, as a chemical weapons plant operated in Florida was covered as an artificial cherry flavoring plant. But note the slightly ajar windows on the balcony behind the sign. Where are the sealed windows and filtered ventilation systems found in hazmat facilities?

Cited as "proof" of chemical weapons preparation, this image actually proves that whatever was being prepared in this vat was not toxic and did not need to be isolated from the workers mixing it up.

Note the absence of clean room style doors or airlocks.

Note the absence of clean room style doors or airlocks.

In short, there is nothing in the photos to indicate that this is anything other than what the Sudanese claim i is, a pharmaceutical factory, and I am not inclined to accept, on faith, the assurances of our government to the contrary without some hard proof.

Did Bill Clinton commit mass murder as a "wag the dog" distraction?


The CIA claimed that they had taken a soil sample from the factory site which contained a chemical precursor to VX gas. It turns out that prior to the arrival of the bombs, the Sudanese factory was sitting on paved ground. The only open soil was in a flowerbox.

Here is the AP article on the VX, followed by the reply I posted to the internet.

>
>Soil Linked Sudan Plant to VX Gas
>
>
>By JOHN DIAMOND Associated Press Writer
>
>WASHINGTON (AP) -- Traces of a manmade chemical found in a sample of
>Sudanese soil formed the basis of the U.S. decision to launch a cruise
>missile strike on a purported pharmaceuticals plant in Khartoum,
>according to U.S. intelligence.
>
>A soil sample obtained clandestinely by U.S. intelligence led the
>Clinton administration to conclude that the Sudanese plant was secretly
>developing a key ingredient in deadly VX nerve gas, a U.S. intelligence
>official said Monday.
>
>The Shifa Pharmaceuticals plant was destroyed last Thursday in a U.S.
>cruise missile attack at the same time Navy-launched cruise missiles
>struck at a suspected terrorist base in eastern Afghanistan. In an echo
>of the controversy over the bombing of what Iraq claimed was a baby milk
>factory during the Persian Gulf War, Sudanese officials have protested
>to the United Nations that the plant made medicine, not weapons.
>
>Under pressure to back up its claim, the Clinton administration let U.S.
>intelligence officials Monday discuss some of the evidence that led to
>the decision to strike.
>
>A U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said
>the physical evidence being cited repeatedly by Clinton administration
>officials is a soil sample ``obtained by clandestine means'' from the
>Sudan plant property. The sample showed traces of a manmade chemical
>called EMPTA, or O-ethylmethylphosphonothioic acid -- a material with no
>commercial uses that is a key ingredient of VX.
>

  Left unmentioned are a few key facts.

  The world's largest manufacturer of VX gas, or methylphosphonothionic 
acid, S-[2-[bis(l-methylethyl)amino)ethyl] )-ethyl ester, is the United
States.  While it is claimed to be in the hands of terrorists, the largest
stockpiles of it (like those of anthrax) are in the United States (which
makes faking a terrorist attack pretty damned easy).

  VX gas is hardly found outside the United States. Usually, what is being
called VX gas is usually a somewhat simpler compound developed by the
former Soviet Union called simply V-gas, or Methylphosphonothioic acid,
S-[2-(diethylamino)ethyl] O-2-methylpropyl ester.

  EMPTA, or O-ethylmethylphosphonothioic acid, is itself highly toxic, and
had it really been present in significant quantities at the Khartoum plant,
would have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people in the surrounding 
areas when the plant was bombed. 

  Given the extreme difficulty in discriminating EMPTA from it's isomers 
(one of which is as a pesticide on flowers) along with the
assumption that it would not have reacted with the soil compounds
(it reacts with almost anything, making decontamination fairly easy with
common household bleach), I would have to rank the CIA's claim of having 
found EMPTA in a soil sample as dubious at best, ranking on a par with that
silly cartoon they made up trying to "prove" that noseless 747s can
maintain stable flight.

  This is, after all, the same agency that lied to John F. Kennedy about
the Bay of Pigs, cannot seem to keep it's retired leadership alive,
and swore for a decade they had no operations at Mena, only to finally 
admit (grudgingly) that they had been running operations there all along.

  Since the above story came out, it has been revealed that the factory 
sat on a totally paved lot in the middle of a totally paved neighborhood.
There was no open soil from which a sample could be taken.


WE MAY HAVE HIT A MOSQUE IN AFGHANISTAN

HOW THE WORLD REPORTS

From the London Guardian





 Clinton knew target was civilian

American tests showed no trace of nerve gas at 'deadly' Sudan 
plant. The President ordered the attack anyway

By Ed Vulliamy in Washington, Henry McDonald in Belfast , and 
Shyam Bhatia and Martin BrightSunday August 23, 1998

President Bill Clinton knew he was bombing a civilian target when 
he ordered the United States attack on a Sudan chemical plant. 
Tests ordered by him showed that no nerve gas was on the site and 
two British professionals who recently worked at the factory said 
it clearly had no military purpose.
The disclosure will deepen the crisis, following the American 
attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan, in relations between the US and 
its Muslim allies, who have called upon Clinton to produce hard 
evidence that the attacks had a legitimate relevance to the war 
against international terrorism.
The US claims that the Al-Shifa Pharmaceuticals Industries plant 
in North Khartoum was producing the ingredients for the deadly VX 
nerve gas. But Sudan's assertion that it produced 50 per cent of 
the country's drug requirements is much closer to the truth.
Several vital pieces of evidence point to this conclusion. US 
forces flew a reconnaissance mission to test for traces of gas 
and reported that there were none. Nevertheless Clinton 
immediately authorized the attack. He was also told that the 
absence of gas would avoid the horrifying spectacle of civilian 
casualties. Sudan has said 10 people were injured, five seriously.
Belfast independent film-maker Irwin Armstrong, who visited the 
plant last year while making a promotional video for the Sudanese 
ambassador in London, said: "The Americans have got this 
completely wrong.
"In other parts of the country I encountered heavy security but 
not here. I was allowed to wander about quite freely. This is a 
perfectly normal chemical factory with the things you would 
expect - stainless steel vats and technicians."
Tom Carnaffin, of Hexham, Northumberland, worked as a technical 
manager from 1992 to 1996 for the Baaboud family, who own the 
plant.
"I have intimate knowledge of that factory and it just does not 
lend itself to the manufacture of chemical weapons," he said.
"The Americans claimed that the weapons were being manufactured 
in the veterinary part of the factory. I have intimate knowledge 
of that part of the [plant] and unless there have been some 
radical changes in the last few months, it just isn't equipped to 
cope with the demands of chemical weapon manufacturing.
"You need things like airlocks but this factory just has doors 
leading out onto the street. The factory was in the process of 
being sold to a Saudi Arabian. They are allies of the Americans 
and I don't think it would look very good in the prospectus that 
the factory was also manufacturing weapons for Baghdad.
"I have personal knowledge of the need for medicine in Sudan as I 
almost died while working out there. The loss of this factory is 
a tragedy for the rural communities who need those medicines."
The engineer, who has said he will be returning to Sudan in the 
near future to carry out more work for the Baaboud family, 
condemned the American attack and its resulting loss of life.
"It's a funny feeling to think that I had a cup of tea in that 
place and the security guard on the gate who used to say hello to 
me is very probably now dead. The Baabouds are absolutely gutted 
about this. People who they knew personally have been killed - it 
is very upsetting."
Meanwhile, an assurance that British targets will not be included 
in any retaliatory strikes has come from sources close to Osama 
bin Laden, the multimillionaire Saudi fundamentalist believed to 
be behind the twin bombings of US embassies in East Africa.
Bin Laden, who survived the American air-strikes on his training 
camp inside Afghanistan, telephoned the editor of the 
London-based Arabic daily newspaper al Quds al Arabi to declare 
he was only interested in hitting the US and Israel.





 Copyright Guardian Media Group plc.1998

From Jordon



Jordan Times (News Section)

    
        'Bombed factory
        was incapable of making chemical arms'
        By Tareq Ayyoub
    
        AMMAN; Jordanian
        experts who supervised the construction of a
        pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, destroyed by U.S.
        missiles Thursday, said Saturday that the site had no
        capability to produce chemical weapons. Ahmad Salem, the 
	engineer who put together
        the construction plan for Al Shifa plant in Khartoum in
        1993, said the factory was designed to produce more than
        50 types of medicine for malaria, tuberculosis,
        antibiotics and other diseases in addition to veterinary
        drugs. 
        “There is no chance this
        factory could be used to produce chemical weapons, it was
        designed to produce medicine for people and
        animals,” Salem told a press conference on Saturday.
        
        Salem was among three Jordanians
        who were involved in the establishment of the factory
        which was inaugurated on July 1997. The other two are Eid
        Abu Dalbouh, a pharmacist, and Mohammed Abdul Wahed, the
        engineer who designed the equipment used to produce the
        medicines. 
        The U.S. claimed that the plant,
        built at a cost of more than $32 million, was engaged in
        making chemical weapons and was partly financed by Ossama
        Ben Laden, the Afghan-based Saudi millionaire whom
        Washington accuses of being responsible for the attacks
        on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania earlier this
        month. 
        Salem said the factory was financed
        by the Sudanese businessman Bashir Hassan, who later sold
        it to another businessman named Salah Idris following
        financial difficulties. 
        “During the construction of
        the plant, over a period of four years, we have never
        seen or met with Ben Laden and he had nothing to do with
        the factory,” Salem said. 
        “What I know for sure is that
        he was not linked to this factory neither financially,
        nor administratively. He has never seen or visited the
        plant,” he added. 
        He noted that the factory was
        opened in the presence of the British ambassador in
        Khartoum at the time and other foreign dignitaries. 
        Salem noted that an American
        expert, named Henry Jobe, participated in the
        construction of the plant turned to rubble by U.S.
        missiles. 
        He said that the plant exported
        medicines to African nations and was planning to send
        medicines to Iraq in line with the oil-for-food agreement
        reached between Baghdad and the U.N. in December 1996. 
        Abu Dalbouh, who completed his work
        at the plant in November 1997, said that it was difficult
        to produce nerve gas as “alleged” by the U.S.
        “because the plant was designed to produce medicine
        and nothing but medicine.” 
        “Any plan to produce toxic
        (gas) needs a separate line in the plant, separate
        ventilation, separate building and special pipes. Our
        facilities were not fit for such production,” Abu
        Dalbouh stressed. 
        He said that an expert representing
        the World Health Organisation (WHO) inspected the plant
        in December 1997. 
        He added that on Friday he
        telephoned a Jordanian expert, Ali Jaber, who is still
        working at the factory “who confirmed to me that no
        changes were introduced to the plant to enable it to
        change its production in the past few months.” 
        “If the factory was producing
        nerve gas as stated by the Americans, why is it that it
        did not cause massive damage in the area which was
        heavily populated?” Salem asked. 
        “This is enough evidence that
        the plant was not producing nerve gas as claimed by the
        U.S.,” he added. 
        He noted that some of the equipment
        used at the factory were supplied by Swedish, American,
        Danish, Belgium and other foreign firms. 
        Salem said that the reconstruction
        of the plant would take three years, “if financial
        support was available.” 
        He added that a Jordanian team had
        been selected to supervise the construction and
        production activities of the plant “because the
        owner had connections with Jordanian pharmaceutical firms
        which used to export medicines to the east African
        nation.” 
        “The factory's plan was
        designed in Jordan and Jordanian experts supervised its
        construction. From a technical point of view it is
        difficult to produce other than medicines in Al Shifa
        factory,” said Abdul Wahed.
        
            

From Associated Press: FBI doesn't know who bombed the embassies. So who told Clinton?


FBI Mum on Embassy Bombing Clues 



By Karin Davies

Associated Press Writer

Saturday, August 22, 1998;  2:42 a.m. EDT




NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Searching for clues in the East Africa 
embassy bombings, authorities staged a pair of raids but were 
tight-lipped about what evidence, if any, was uncovered. 
Investigators were still describing their probe into twin 
bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as being in the 
preliminary stages, even two weeks after the Aug. 7 attacks -- 
and even after the United States launched cruise missile strikes 
it said were in response to the embassy bombings. 
Neither the Kenyan nor Tanzanian governments has made any public 
comment about Thursday's U.S. strikes on targets in Sudan and 
Afghanistan, which the Clinton administration said were tied to 
terrorist activity. 
Instead, American and Kenyan investigators widened their net. On 
Friday in the Indian Ocean coast town of Malindi, five glove-clad 
FBI agents and two Kenyan police officials made a three-hour 
search of a slum house. 
Witnesses said the homeowner, a driver for the Labor Ministry, 
was taken into custody. 
That came on the heels of another raid, this one in the Kenyan 
capital. 
The FBI and Kenyan police raided the Nairobi offices of a Saudi 
Arabian charity, the Mercy International Relief Agency, in 
connection with the bombing, hauling away documents, computers 
and cash, an employee said Friday. 
A Kenyan employee, Shaban Hassan, remained in custody a day after 
Thursday's raid, said Abdullah Ahmed, a charity secretary. 
The Sudanese director, Mohammed Abdullah, has been missing for 
three weeks, Ahmed said. 
The FBI and Kenyan police refused to comment on either raid. 
A Sudanese and a Saudi were arrested at the Afghan border 
Saturday. Both were still being questioned, and have not been 
identified. 
The embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were the targets of 
car bombings in which 257 people died, all but 10 of them in 
Kenya. Twelve of the dead were Americans. 
FBI Director Louis Freeh, who flew back to Washington on Friday 
after visiting the two bombed-out embassies and conferring with 
field agents, said he had made ``no final conclusions'' about who 
carried out the bombings. 
Freeh would not say whether evidence developed during U.S. 
inquiries at the bomb scenes led to Thursday's American missile 
strikes. 
© Copyright 1998 The Associated PressBack to the top



It gets worse. The man who fingered bin Laden might have been a plant.





Muslim Fury, Suitcase Nukes In NYC Soon?
 http://www.smh.com.au/news/9808/29/text/world2.htmlAug 29 98
 CHRISTOPHER KREMMER, Herald Correspondent in Islamabad
 
MUSLIM FURY

"War of future" claims first victims

Date: 29/08/98

By CHRISTOPHER KREMMER, Herald Correspondent in Islamabad

GENERAL Hamid Gul, a former chief of Pakistani intelligence, fastened
his seatbelt as a Pakistan International Airways
plane began its descent into Lahore this week.

The flight had been bumpy, but not as rough as General Gul believes
the war against terrorism will be.

"It's not that difficult to obtain a suitcase-size nuclear weapon,"
the urbane former military officer reminded a fellow
traveler. "Just the thing for retaliation against London or New York."

Such is the Muslim world's anger over the United States's cruise-missile
attacks on August 20 against terrorist camps
in Afghanistan and an alleged chemical weapons factory in Sudan that
such a scenario is now receiving serious
thought in governments and think-tanks around the world.

Since President Bill Clinton decided direct action was the best response
to the August 7 twin bombings of US
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 257 people, the reaction
so far has been lethal, if limited.

In the Afghan capital, Kabul, the day after the attacks, an Italian
military observer working with the United Nations,
Lieutenant-Colonel Carmine Calo, died after an ambush by gunmen linked
to the ruling Taliban Islamic movement.

Outside the Ugandan capital, Kampala, grenades and bombs exploded on
three buses, killing 29 people. In the South
African city of Cape Town, a bomb blast killed one person at a Planet
Hollywood American theme restaurant, while in
Tel Aviv, Israel, a bomb concealed in a rubbish bin near the city's
main synagogue injured 19 people. In all three cases,
police have not ruled out retaliation as the motive.

The "war of the future" described by the US Secretary of State, Dr Madeleine
Albright, has already claimed its first
victims. But the basis for the blood feud - the evidence provided by
a key suspect in the Kenyan embassy bombing - is
now being questioned.

Palestinian Mohammed Sadiq Odeh was arrested at Karachi airport the
day after the embassy blasts, while traveling
on a fake Yemeni passport. The photograph in the passport bore no relation
to Odeh's appearance.

Under interrogation, Odeh confessed to helping plan the bombing, which
he said was ordered by the exiled Saudi
millionaire Osama bin Laden. He also gave details linking bin Laden,
who lives under the protection of the Taliban in
Afghanistan, to some of the most notorious terrorist attacks of the
decade, including bombings at US military targets in
Saudi Arabia and an attempt on the life of Egypt's President Hosni
Mubarak.

General Gul, the former intelligence boss who knows something about
false travel documents, believes Odeh is an
imposter, planted by a foreign intelligence agency - probably Israel's
Mossad or the US's Central Intelligence Agency -
to provide a justification for the cruise-missile attacks on bin Laden's
Afghan bases.

"It costs 1,000 rupees [about $30] to buy any passport officer at Karachi
airport. Odeh's millionaire backer bin Laden
hadn't given him that much money, nor even a reasonable forgery of
a passport? This man wanted to be caught," says
General Gul.

A leading defence analyst, Dr Shireen Mazari, agrees. "It just doesn't
make sense. Hard-core political terrorists do not
volunteer information the way Odeh has done. It's a set-up."

Odeh, and another suspect, Khalid Salim, were flown to New York on Thursday
to face formal charges relating to the
embassy bombing.

The stated aim of the US attacks was to destroy terrorist "infrastructure"
being used to plan more major strikes against
US interests around the world.

US officials with access to satellite photographs of the camps, near
the eastern Afghan town of Khost, said the
damage caused by scores of Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from warships
cruising in the Arabian Sea was
significant.

In the eight days since the strikes, the Afghan authorities have blocked
efforts by journalists to visit Khost. They said
only 27 people were killed at the Zhawar Kili al-Badr complex of camps.
At least six of them were Pakistani citizens
receiving weapons training to fight in the separatist war in Kashmir.

IN Pakistan's hospitals, the bodies of the trainee terrorists were pockmarked
by shrapnel and burn marks, stark
evidence of America's lethal intent, enforced with the use of anti-personnel
cluster bomblets showered from the cruise
missiles.

"We knew we were under attack and we wanted to hit back, but we could
do nothing," said Maaz Ali, 19, of
Bahawalpur, in Pakistani Punjab, tears of frozen rage brimming in his
eyes, as he recalled the night the sky lit up over
Khost.

Even educated Pakistanis, like Dr Mohammed Imdad, who treated some of
the survivors at Rawalpindi's Civil Hospital,
felt similar rage. "The Jews have turned the Christians against the
Muslims," Dr Imdad said, "but the price for America
and its allies will be high."

All but a handful of non-Muslim foreign aid staff have been withdrawn
from Afghanistan, ensuring further hardship for a
people who have already suffered grievously due to a 19-year civil
war. Kabul's hospitals are heavily dependent on
foreign aid.

Neighbouring Pakistan is also close to falling off the international
map. The US has told its citizens to seriously
consider leaving the country, and Britain and Australia are advising
their nationals not to visit at least two of its four
provinces.

Washington's remote-control war against terrorism has suddenly transformed
Pakistan from a busy base for
international organizations and aid groups into a tense place where
not much can be done. In the antiseptic capital,
Islamabad, UN staff now observe a nightly eight o'clock curfew and
restrict unnecessary movement in the city.

Business people, diplomats and aid workers of other countries, including
Australia, have become unwilling front-line
soldiers in a war declared by a US president who, according to his
critics, took up the cudgels merely to distract a
domestic audience from his much-publicized sexual indiscretions.

Some, but not all, of Osama bin Laden's Afghan bases were destroyed
by the US strikes, but he retains the capability
to retaliate through his International Islamic Front, unveiled in Khost
in May this year.

"His followers in the Middle East can act without any clear orders from
bin Laden," said the editor of the Pakistani
Urdu-language daily newspaper Ausaf, Mr Hamid Mir, who is writing a
biography of the militant Muslim leader.

Mr Mir believes bin Laden will continue to enjoy Afghanistan's hospitality
under the Taliban's supreme leader, the
one-eyed recluse Mullah Mohammed Omar. "They share similar ideas about
America and the international situation. In
fact, Mullah Omar is even more extreme than bin Laden," he says.

Efforts by the Taliban leader to placate Saudi Arabia, which bank-rolls
his movement and wants bin Laden silenced, by
gagging his turbulent "guest" were overruled by Afghanistan's Shariat
court, based in the southern city of Kandahar, Mr
Mir said.

Pakistan's moderate Islamic Government is also walking a tightrope,
condemning the American air raids to outflank
rising fundamentalist outrage.

Defence analysts say the time when a Muslim fundamentalist assumes control
of the armed forces is not far off.

"All the younger officers have been radicalized by the Afghan war, and
every time the Government chooses a new
army chief, the pool of educated, Westernized officers from which to
choose gets smaller," a former defense attache
in Islamabad said.

A former Pakistan Army chief, General Mirza Aslam Beg, believes the
US air strikes can only accelerate the process.
"Ultimately there will a convergence of views in Afghanistan and Pakistan
that we are facing one common enemy: the
US and its allies," he said.

MEANWHILE, Osama bin Laden - deprived of his Saudi citizenship but now
elevated to the status of folk hero in the
minds of many Muslims - appears secure in his Afghan fastness, promising
to answer Mr Clinton "in deeds, not words"
and keeping in touch with his international network by satellite fax
and phone.

He remains a tempting but dangerous target for the long arm of the US.

"If the US military strikes continue, the fire will spread in the whole
Islamic world. Even if they kill bin Laden, 100 others
will rise to take his place," said Mr Mir, the renegade millionaire's
biographer.

But others believe America's new international enemy number one can
be stopped. Professor Ehud Sprinzak, a
professor of political science at the Hebrew University in Israel,
told a meeting of the US Institute of Peace in
Washington this week: "If the Taliban and the Pakistanis decide tomorrow
that the fellow hurts their interests
significantly, they can solve the problem in a very, very short time."

From Reuters: Decision to bomb Sudan purely political.



U.S. Wanted Excuse To Bomb Sudan Factory - Clark
 ReutersSept. 21, 1998
 wire service
 U.S. Wanted Excuse To Bomb Sudan Factory - Clark 
Reuters  7.32 p.m. ET (2333 GMT) September 22, 1998 

 NEW YORK — Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark said Tuesday the U.S. government had
 wanted an excuse to strike at Sudan last month and the decision to bomb a pharmaceutical plant there
 was strictly political. 

 Clark made the accusations to reporters after returning from Sudan, where he led a delegation from the
 International Action Center on a fact-finding mission to the El Shifa pharmaceutical factory, which was
 destroyed by U.S. cruise missiles on Aug. 20. 

 According to some administration officials, the factory was attacked in the belief that a soil sample taken
 from outside the plant revealed the presence of EMPTA, a key ingredient in deadly VX nerve gas. 

 "It is absolutely absurd to believe that they scooped up some dirt and found nerve gas on the outside of
 the plant,'' Clark said, adding there were some four million people living in the Khartoum area and that
 any nerve gas would have affected local residents. 

 The plant was destroyed a week after bomb blasts at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 260
 people. 

 Clark said the factory had produced 90 percent of Sudan's major pharmaceutical needs. "This was a
 pharmaceutical plant. There was no nerve gas. It would have been absolutely maniacal for them to put it
 there,'' he said. 

 Instead Clark said the United States "merely wanted an excuse to hit Sudan. The way the target was
 chosen was purely a political decision.'' 

 The New York Times Monday quoted unnamed senior administration officials as saying the U.S.
 government had relied on inferences to conclude the factory produced chemical weapons. The paper
 reported that some State Department and CIA officials believed Washington could not justify its actions.

 It quoted one official saying he was "not convinced of the evidence'' and that the United States may
 have made a mistake. 

 Clark produced documents from the United Nations Security Council approving the shipment from the
 factory in Sudan to Baghdad of antibiotics and medicines used in the treatment of malaria, tuberculosis
 and diarrhea. 

 He said that all workers at the factory had been doing was ''mixing up (medicinal) powder into tablet or
 capsule form and packaging it into bottles or foil.'' 

 "It is a crime under international law'' to deprive a populace of medications required to meet its health
 needs, he said, arguing the United States should compensate Sudan for the damage caused by the
 strike. 

 "You can't expect them to become whole without compensation from Washington,'' Clark said.  "You can't expect them to become whole without 
compensation from Washington,'' Clark said. 




I told you so!

US admits Sudan bombing mistake

London Independent via WordNetDaily
May, 1999 Andrew Marshall

US admits Sudan bombing mistake

London Independent

UK News

May, 1999

By Andrew Marshall in Washington

In an admission that last year's missile attack on a factory in Sudan was a mistake, the US has cleared the man who owned the plant of any links to terrorism.

The embarrassing reversal means that the US has virtually no evidence to support its claim that the missile attack was a strike against terrorism. Most of those who have investigated the case have concluded that the US acted on faulty intelligence and that key procedures were overridden by officials in the White House. The affair is already the subject of congressional inquiries and may result in the departure of some senior White House officials.

America launched cruise missiles against targets in Afghanistan and Sudan in August last year after bomb attacks on it embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. It blamed the bombing on Osama bin Laden, the former Saudi who it accuses of backing many attacks on US targets. It said that the pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum was linked to Mr. bin Laden and was used to produce chemical weapons.

The US was forced to admit within hours that the plant was not a Sudanese government facility, but a private factory belonging to Salah Idris, a Saudi businessman. But it then said that Mr. Idris was himself linked to terrorism and to Mr. bin Laden. It froze all of his bank accounts, including money held at Bank of America in London. Yesterday, with no public announcement or fanfare, it unfroze accounts, admitting that no evidence existed to accuse Mr. Idris.

Mr. Idris hired Akin, Gump Strauss, Hauer & Feld, a top Washington law firm, to press his case. He sued Bank of America and the US government, and hired Kroll Associates, the top private investigators, to clear him. Kroll found no evidence of any links between Mr. Idris and Mr. bin Laden. Yesterday, the US was due to reply to Mr. Idris's law suits, but instead chose to retreat and unfreeze the accounts. "Today's order lifting all restrictions on the Bank of America accounts also effectively removes any suggestion that Mr. Idris has, at any time, maintained a relationship with Osma bin Laden or any terrorist group or organization," said Akin, Gump in a statement.

Spokesmen for Mr. Idris said they were "jubilant" but that there could still be a law suit to recover compensation.

"I am grateful that the United States has taken the honourable course and has corrected, in part, the serious harm that has been done to my family and our good name," said Mr. Idris yesterday from Sudan. "While I understand that the United States must wage a vigorous fight against terrorism, in this case a grave error has been made."

Britain never supported the idea that Mr. Idris had links to Mr. bin Laden, and he was permitted to enter and leave London (where he maintains a flat) freely.

The widespread view outside the US was that the White House had insufficient evidence for the attack.

HOW THE WORLD SEES THE ATTACKS

Cited under "fair use" for educational purposes

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