Overview: The United States formally rescinded Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) on December 14. The Secretary of State designated Sudan as an SST in 1993 for supporting international terrorist groups, including the Abu Nidal Organization, Palestine Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hizballah, and al-Qa’ida. The rescission of the designation came after a political transition in 2019, when Sudan officially formed the civilian-led transitional government (CLTG) after a popular uprising ended the 30-year regime of former President Omer al-Bashir. Rescission of Sudan’s SST designation was a top priority for Prime Minister Hamdok and his cabinet, who have taken critical steps to work with the United States on improving Sudan’s CT efforts. Addressing a policy condition for rescission of the SST designation, the CLTG agreed to provide $335 million in compensation for victims of terrorism, to include victims of the 2000 USS Cole attack and the 1998 East African Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. As part of the SST statutory criteria, the CLTG also provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.
Following the 2019 revolution, in 2020 the CLTG prioritized CT operations, arrested terrorist suspects, and continued its CT cooperation with the international community. The CLTG has made significant steps forward in CT cooperation with the United States, including increased information sharing, and is working to build its capacity to identify terrorists and deny them safe haven. Despite the absence of high-profile attacks attributable to identifiable terrorist groups, ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and Harakat Sawa’d Misr continue to use Sudan as a facilitation and logistics hub. Lone actors and low-level violent extremists, who lack direction from senior leadership of identifiable terrorist groups, remain a potential threat.
A worsening economic crisis since 2018 compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic created a permissive environment for terrorist groups to exploit. The CLTG continues to view FTFs as the predominant threat, but local violent extremist sympathizers and self-radicalized elements remain a concern.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no confirmed terrorist incidents during the year.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: On July 13 the CLTG published amendments to the Criminal Law Act of 1991, the Criminal Procedure Act of 1991, and the National Security Act of 2010. Among these amendments, Sudan removed the arrest and detention authorities of the General Intelligence Service (formerly the National Intelligence and Security Service), banned torture and forced confessions, and repealed criminal law provisions that prevented cooperation with the International Criminal Court. Sudan is also working on amending its overarching CT legal framework — the Counter Terrorism Act of 2001 — to provide protections for witnesses and whistleblowers and clarify ambiguous statutory language.
In May, Sudan signed an MOU with the UN Countering Terrorist Travel Program to build Sudan’s capacities to detect and interdict terrorist travel in accordance with UNSCR 2396 (from 2017). Sudan is also working with UNOCT to operationalize “goTravel” at major Sudanese ports of entry for collecting and analyzing API/PNR data.
In 2020, Sudanese authorities successfully disrupted a significant number of terrorist plots, including the September arrest of 41 individuals for possession of explosive materials such as ammonium nitrate. Sudan also has increased its border security measures to track and interdict terrorist suspects traveling on fraudulent passports.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: In 2020 the CLTG developed an AML/CFT prioritization plan that includes legislative amendments to the 2014 AML/CTF law to ensure oversight of the financial sector, in line with FATF standards. Sudan is a member of MENAFATF and is preparing for its 2022 mutual evaluation. Sudan’s FIU has reached out to the World Bank and the IMF about ongoing AML/CFT assistance programs and potential for additional engagement, to include its National Risk Assessment toolkit, and taken steps to incorporate AML/CFT oversight of the real estate sector. The FIU remains a member of the Egmont Group.
Countering Violent Extremism: The CLTG continues to develop a unified National Action Plan on CVE. Previous government programs focused on the terrorist deradicalization and reintegration of individuals rather than preventing violent extremism and addressing the roots of terrorist radicalization. In 2020 the CLTG has broadened its relationships and engagement on CVE by seeking input from international bodies, civil society, and local experts.
International and Regional Cooperation: In 2020, Sudan continued to support CT efforts in regional and multilateral organizations. The CLTG has undertaken initiatives to bolster its CT capacity, including partnership with UNOCT to enhance border security and counter terrorist travel. Sudan is a member of the following groups which have CT equities: the United Nations (the UN Development Programme, or UNDP, and UNOCT); INTERPOL; the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies; and the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization.
State Sponsor of Terrorism: Rescission of Sudan’s designation as an SST was critical to bolstering Sudan’s ability to receive debt relief and addressed a major reputational impediment to international investment. It also means several related legal restrictions, including on certain U.S. exports of dual-use items to Sudan, no longer apply.