Mapping Sudan’s Counter-Terrorism Terrain: Progress and Persistence

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Sudan continues to support counter-terrorism efforts in regional and multilateral organizations. In September 2019, Sudan officially initiated the civilian-led transitional government (CLTG) after 30 years under the administration of ex-President Omar al-Bashir. The CLTG has announced that it no longer supports any terrorist organization. Sudan has taken action to work with the US on counterterrorism. Despite political turmoil in 2019 that led to the removal of the former president and the building of the CLTG in September, the Sudanese government persisted in pursuing counterterrorism operations alongside regional allies, including operations to counter threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan.

Despite the absence of high-profile terrorist incidents, ISIS facilitation networks seem to be active within Sudan. The Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments under the CLTG also denied the existence of an official ISIS presence in Sudan but admitted that there were “extremists” linked to ISIS in the country.  

The Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments also stressed that his ministry would work on combating extremism, fighting terrorism, and reviving school curricula to promote tolerance.  The media reported that the CLTG was prepared to send back between 16 and 20 terrorists from ISIS and other groups to their nations of origin. The apprehended persons belonged to different ethnicities, including six Egyptians, one Tunisian, and six individuals from Chad and Nigeria.

Regarding law enforcement efforts against terrorism, Sudanese security forces continue to target and prevent terrorist cells in Sudan actively. Sudanese security services, primarily led by the GIS, targeted ISIS cells in Khartoum and Omdurman for arrest operations during a series of raids in 2021 And arrested eight foreign terrorists in Omdurman.

Moreover, Sudan continues to focus on enhancing its border security measures to track and prevent terrorist suspects traveling on forged passports, which is particularly important given Sudan’s extensive and porous borders. As part of the government’s counterterrorism strategy, Sudanese squads patrol the Sudanese‑Libyan border as well as the Sudanese-Chadian border to prevent the flow of suspected terrorists transiting through the territory and to prevent arms smuggling and other illicit activities. 

Concerning AML/CFT, Sudan remains a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force. It is a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body. The Financial Action Task Force and MENAFATF have nailed that Sudan’s AML/CFT regime adequately handles AML/CFT. Additionally, Sudan’s Financial Information Unit is a part of the Egmont Group and works regularly with other members on AML/CFT issues.

Furthermore, CLTG persists in developing a national strategy for countering terrorist radicalization and recruitment. Sudan’s current strategy combines administration and civil society resources and uses a social, economic, and religious procedure toward strengthening Sudan’s people against internal or external “extremist” influences. Sudan’s de-radicalization programs run together with the national strategy. De-radicalization agendas in Sudan focused on reintegrating and rehabilitating replaced FTFs and those espousing terrorist ideologies. Sudan rehabilitated a small number of women and children who are or had been linked with FTFs, mostly the spouses and children of ISIS fighters killed in Libya, and enrolled them in Sudanese rehabilitation programs.

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