N.Y. Bomb Plot Renews Charges of Sudanese Terrorist Ties

Article excerpt

THE arrest of five Sudanese passport-holders Thursday in a plot to bomb several targets in New York City has raised questions anew about Sudanese involvement in international terrorism.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Hussein Abdel Saleh on Saturday roundly denied any official involvement in the alleged plan to bomb the United Nations headquarters and two New York commuter tunnels and to assassinate prominent political figures.

"Sudan denounces all kinds of terrorism," he said in Cairo. "The US has to prove that this plot is by the Sudanese government and people."

But Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, said to be the terrorists' ringleader and a Sudanese national who came to the United States several years ago, reportedly boasted that he had "connections" in Sudan's UN delegation. The US government has long maintained that the militantly Islamic Khartoum regime, which took power in a 1989 coup, exports terrorism.

A recent trend in Sudanese foreign policy to placate Western powers, for instance by allowing Western aid agencies access to famine-stricken regions, would suggest that President Omar Bashir would have no interest in an outrage bound to provoke Washington's ire. Differences within the Sudanese government, however, allow the possibility that some members of the regime might have encouraged the plotters.

The inclusion of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali - an Egyptian - on a hit list that police found in last week's raids could also indicate official Sudanese involvement. Relations between Khartoum and Cairo have soured in recent months over Egyptian claims that Sudan harbors radical Islamic guerrillas belonging to Egypt's Gamaa Islamiya (Islamic Group).

The Gamaa Islamiya, dedicated to overthrowing Mr. Mubarak's government, regards Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman as its spiritual leader. The sheikh preaches at a New Jersey mosque where several of the arrested men prayed. …