Sunday, August 01, 2004

Sudan: US special forces hunting militants in the east (??)

The following is from today's Telegraph ...
American special forces teams have been sent to Sudan to hunt down Saudi Arabian terrorists who have re-established secret al-Qa'eda training camps in remote mountain ranges in the north-eastern quarter of the country.

The terrorists, who are thought to take orders from Saudi Arabia's most wanted man, Saleh Awfi, have taken refuge in at least three locations in the Jebel Kurush mountains, which run parallel to the Red Sea coast of Africa's biggest country.

[...] Western diplomats in Saudi Arabia said that the new Sudanese camps, which were established in the last nine months, have become a vital staging ground for al-Qa'eda. 'There is significant traffic from these camps to the peninsula across the Red Sea,' one said. 'There is no real Sudanese government or army control over the mountains. The terrorists slip through the cracks, up into the hills where they can train, rest and build up the spirit of jihad. With things getting hot over here, they can get organised over there.'

[...] Sudan has resisted western and Saudi Arabian pressure for it to deploy an army battalion in the Jebel Kurush, to flush out the al-Qa'eda presence. It has, however, allowed small teams of American soldiers to pass into the country as part of official visits, such as last month's trip by Colin Powell. A team of five special forces soldiers broke off from the Powell entourage for a week-long mission in the Kurush mountains, where aerial surveillance had established a list of villages where suspicious activity had been detected.1
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1: McElroy, Damien. (2004, August 1). US forces hunt down al-Qa'eda in Sudan. Telegraph.