Khartoum’s central role in the assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, October 3, 2001

The Government of Sudan played a critical role in the assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, June 25, 1995). This terrorist act should serve to remind us why the United States must be exceedingly skeptical in assessing the terrorist “intelligence” now expediently coming from a fearful Khartoum. U.N. records, transcripts, and resolutions make clear—as do US intelligence sources—that responsibility for this terrorist act belongs to the National Islamic Front regime. This regime is the present Government of Sudan; and it is composed of the same cast of vicious characters implicated in this highly significant terrorist event. Obviously whatever they are offering in the way of “intelligence” will have been fully purged and sanitized—perhaps voluminous, but surely expedient.

Eric Reeves, 3 October 2001
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

On June 25, 1995, a very well-planned and ambitiously organized assassination attempt was made against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a summit of the Organization of African Unity. (Ethiopia shares a very significant border with Sudan.) Evidence of the Government of Sudan’s complicity was clear and overwhelming from the beginning. This evidence would lead to a unanimous U.N. Security Council Resolution (No. 1044, adopted in January 1996) imposing diplomatic sanctions on Sudan for its failure to cooperate in the investigation of the assassination attempt.

The reason the Government of Sudan—the National Islamic Front regime—did not cooperate in the investigation is clear: it was responsible for supporting the assassination and for providing a means of escape to the assassination operatives who survived and managed to flee back to Sudan.

How great was their responsibility? At the time, U.S. representative to the U.N. Edward W. Gnehm declared: “[in passing Resolution 1044] the [U.N. Security] Council recognized Sudan’s complicity in supporting and sheltering those who plotted the attempted assassination of the Egyptian President and the Sudanese Government’s sponsorship of terrorism as part of its foreign policy” [text from U.N. Press Release, April 26, 1996].

The key language here is the Government of Sudan’s “supporting and sheltering” the terrorists who attempted to assassinate Mubarak. Also of note is the language: “the Sudanese Government’s sponsorship of terrorism as part of its foreign policy.”

Gnehm went on to say: “The claims of the Government of the Sudan that it had tried to locate the three wanted suspects had no credibility. Sudanese authorities had been aware of the location of the three before, during and after the assassination attempt, and after the extradition request from Ethiopia was received. Such actions were only part of a broader pattern of Sudanese support for terrorism, which equally demanded action by the international community” [text from U.N. Press Release, April 26, 1996].

What are the implications of a United States representative to the U.N. declaring that the Government of Sudan, the National Islamic Front regime, knew the location of the assassination operatives “before, during, and after the assassination attempt”?

They are obvious: the United States knew at the time, as it did when it recently abstained in a UN resolution lifting sanctions against Sudan, that the Government of Sudan was deeply complicit in the Mubarak assassination attempt. It knew and knows, in other words, that some of the members of the National Islamic Front, which continues to constitute the Government of Sudan, are the same men responsible for the assassination attempt against Mubarak. How likely is it, then, that we can expect from Khartoum any truly useful “intelligence” on the Mubarak assassination attempt—or on any other terrorist act in which Khartoum itself has been complicit?

In fact, there is very particular intelligence about just who in the National Islamic Front regime was responsible for the terrorist attempt against Mubarak. According to an informed and exceedingly well-placed source in Washington, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, now first Vice President of the Government of Sudan and the real power in the regime, was one of those behind the assassination. Even more damning, Ghazi Salahdin—now senior advisor to President Omar Beshir—was not only behind the assassination attempt, but is authoritatively reported to have provided transport and passports to the assassination operatives who escaped from Ethiopia, enabling them to move on to Afghanistan. Others figures complicit in the assassination attempt include Nafi Ali Nafi, then Chief of External Intelligence (now another senior advisor to General Beshir), and Qutbi al-Mahdi, perhaps the most virulently anti-American member of the National Islamic Front.

The evidence, both from the U.N. and from intelligence and regional sources, makes clear that the Government of Sudan—the National Islamic Front—was deeply complicit in the assassination attempt.

The Government of Ethiopia, on whose territory the attempt took place, also made clear that it knew the Government of Sudan—the National Islamic Front—was responsible for the assassination attempt. The Ethiopian representative to the U.N. Security Council declared: “Evidence unearthed by his Government implicated the Government of the Sudan in the assassination attempt against President Mubarak of Egypt, clearly illustrating a threat to the peace and security of the region” [text from U.N. Press Release, January 31, 1996].

According to U.N. transcripts, Ethiopia went even further, with much greater particularity, in revealing its findings about the role of the National Islamic Front in the assassination attempt: “According to Ethiopia’s investigation, those involved in the assassination attempt were members of a terrorist organization called Al-Gama’a-Islamia. The two main leaders were based in Khartoum. The terrorists in custody admit that: their leaders live in Khartoum; the plot was hatched in Khartoum; their mission to assassinate President Mubarak was given to them in Khartoum; and the weapons intended to be used in their mission were flown into Addis Ababa by Sudan Airways from Khartoum. Moreover, the passports they possess, in virtually all cases, were prepared for them in Khartoum” [text from U.N. Press Release, January 31, 1996].

All this is common knowledge among U.S. government officials who are now dealing with a Sudan repeatedly described as “cooperative.” Such characterizations clearly imply a willingness to bury the inconvenient facts of recent history, including the Mubarak assassination attempt—along with many other terrorist activities in which Sudan is, and continues to be, complicit.

Given this willful obscuring of Sudan’s past, it is worth quoting another comment from the U.N. transcript, revealing what U.S. government views were at the time of this extraordinarily significant assassination attempt. (If Mubarak had indeed been assassinated, the consequences for the region would have been immensely consequential, and potentially deeply destabilizing; an Islamist “uprising” was to have been triggered in Egypt by the assassination):

[U.S. representative to the U.N. Edward W. Gnehm ]: “Sudan’s efforts to export terrorism [have] even reached the United Nations. Two employees of the Sudanese Mission had been active accomplices in the plot to assassinate President Mubarak during a visit to New York, and to blow up the United Nations. [Representative Gnehm] provided details of the plots and said his statements were not just allegations, but were part of the public records of the courts in New York. He elaborated on other support by the Sudan for terrorists, including the use of its airline and financial resources” [U.N. Press Release, April 26, 1996].

That was then; this is now, in the horrific wake of the events of September 11th. So, how expedient a deal is the US willing to cut with Sudan for “intelligence” so expediently offered? How willing is it to overlook Sudan’s terrorist past? its terrorist present? (September 24, 27, and 28, 2001 analyses of this latter subject are available upon request from this source).

And most consequentially, how willing is the US to cut a deal with a regime that continues a massive campaign of terror against its own people—the people of southern Sudan and other marginalized areas? Are we willing to abandon these peoples to ongoing genocidal destruction in our pursuit of all possible “intelligence” from Khartoum? Are we willing to become as expedient as our adversaries in this fearsome new “war on terrorism”? Some terribly disturbing answers are emerging.


[All U.N documents, including Security Council Resolution No. 1044, can be found on the U.N. Website: search under: Murbarak+Sudan+assassination at:]