Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sudanese Scholar Denies That He Spreads Terrorism

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sudanese Scholar Denies That He Spreads Terrorism

Article excerpt

HASAN TURABI has no official post. Yet dignitaries and ambassadors trek to his modest offices to hear his thoughts on what is happening in Sudan and how an Islamic revival will sweep the world.

To the West, he is the architect of a campaign by Sudan to spread terrorism by Muslim radicals. To many Arabs, he is a visionary thinker on the future of Islam. From either side, he is the most influential man in Sudan.

In an interview, the 62-year-old Turabi brushed aside questions about his own power in Sudan, a vast and arid African expanse that is one of the world's poorest countries. He focused instead on his view that "Islamic terrorism" has more to do with Western fears than with reality.

"The spreading of the Islamic revival has created a terror in the world," he said. "I care that the Islamic revival spreads, especially in the Arab world, because they are historically closer to the origins of Islam and can lead the international revival."

Turabi's power stems from his leadership of the National Islamic Front, which is in theory banned like other political parties but actually controls the government in this nation of 25 million people. Western diplomats say Turabi sets the tone for Sudan's rule but does not make all daily decisions.

The country is a pariah because of its backing for Iraq in the Gulf War and charges that it supports Islamic radicals who have caused havoc in Egypt and Algeria.

Sudan was put on the U.S. list of terrorist-sponsoring states last year after five Sudanese were charged among defendants in a plot to blow up New York landmarks. The United States and some Arab nations accuse Sudan of plotting with Iran and harboring radical groups like the Palestinians' Hamas and Abu Nidal.

Although a champion of Islam, Turabi is a contrast to the religiously educated leaders of Iran's Islamic republic. He studied in Britain and got a doctorate in law from the Sorbonne in Paris in 1964. He is a charismatic speaker who charms visitors in eloquent Arabic or fluent French and English.

He has been a political player in Sudan since 1965, holding posts under five regimes. His ability to survive is renowned. …

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