Overview: The October 25 military takeover that ousted former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the civilian-led transitional government (CLTG) halted Sudan’s democratic transition and stalled efforts to adjust domestic CT authorities.
However, even in the period since the takeover, under the authority of Sovereign Council Chair and Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) Commander General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan has continued to seek to strengthen CT cooperation with the United States, including through consistent information sharing and efforts to build capacity to identify terrorists and deny them safe haven within Sudan.
Despite the absence of any terrorist attacks in 2021, ISIS, al-Qa’ida, and Harakat Sawa’d Misr (HASM) continued to use Sudan as a facilitation and logistics hub. Terrorist groups in recent years have likely opted not to conduct attacks inside Sudan to preserve the country’s relatively
permissive environment, though this calculus could change as security forces place more pressure on terrorists. Lone actors and low-level extremists, who lack direction from senior leadership, remain a potential threat who could launch attacks in Sudan. The government continues to view FTFs as the predominant threat.
2021 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents in Sudan in 2021. However, on September 28, two General Intelligence Service (GIS) officers and three noncommissioned personnel were killed during a raid on an ISIS cell in the Jabra district of Khartoum, where GIS arrested 11 foreign terrorists of various nationalities. On October 4, one security forces officer was killed during a follow-on raid in the Jabra district on the ISIS cell.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Previous efforts by the CLTG to amend the overarching CT legal framework in Sudan have been stalled because of the military takeover. The military-led government granted security services — namely, GIS — additional authorities to target terrorists in late 2021. Otherwise, there were no significant developments regarding CT authorities in 2021.
Regarding law enforcement actions against terrorism, Sudanese security forces continue to actively target and interdict terrorist cells in Sudan. Sudanese security services, primarily led by the GIS, targeted ISIS cells in Khartoum and Omdurman for arrest operations during a series of raids from late September to early October. Separately, on October 3, security forces arrested eight foreign terrorists in Omdurman.
Sudan continues to focus on improving its border security measures to track and interdict terrorist suspects traveling on forged passports, which is particularly important given Sudan’s extensive and porous borders.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: There were no significant changes in 2021.
Countering Violent Extremism: Before the October military takeover, the CLTG was focused on broadening its relationships and engagement on CVE by seeking input from international bodies, civil society, and local experts. The CLTG and security services held numerous joint conferences, led by the Sudan National Commission for Counterterrorism (SNCCT), with local and international stakeholders to discuss various CVE initiatives. These efforts have largely stalled since the military takeover in October.
International and Regional Cooperation: Sudan continues to support CT efforts in regional and multilateral organizations. Sudan remains a member of the following groups which have CT equities: International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP); INTERPOL; and the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization. The UN Office of Counterterrorism (UNOCT) organized a large introductory workshop in October to focus on interagency coordination in counterterrorism in cooperation with the SNCCT. UNOCT maintains a small team in Khartoum to liaise with Sudanese authorities, UN entities (including UNDP, UNESCO, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission Sudan), and regional organizations (AU and IGAD) to share best practices for counterterrorism strategy, border security, Countering the Financing of Terrorism, and community policing.