THE HEAD OF HAMAS'S POLITBURO in
Damascus, Khalid Mash'al, recently telephoned Sudanese President Omar Hassan
al-Bashir and denounced the International Criminal Court's accusations against
him, according to an article that appeared on the Palestinian Maan News Agency website.
The "armed wing" of Hamas also proclaimed Bashir's innocence on their
Without addressing the allegations,
Mash'al decried the submission of international organizations to U.S. pressure.
He confirmed Hamas's solidarity with Sudan, its leadership and people "in
confronting this new conspiracy targeting Sudan through its head of
The Islamic Republic of Iran also
defends Bashir. Last year, as international pressure mounted over the slaughter
in Darfur, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described Sudan as a second home full of
"dear, pious and revolutionary brothers."
Iran and Hamas like to cast
themselves as defenders of "resistance." Indeed, both claim to fight
for justice and the downtrodden. How can they defend mass murder?
The story begins in1989, when an
Islamist-inspired coup brought Brigadier Omar al-Bashir to power. Within
months, Islamists tied to the National Islamic Front (NIF) held key posts in
the government, security services, and other important sectors. As journalist
Judith Miller noted, Sudan became "the only Sunni Arab state to have
embraced absolutist, militant Islamic rule." Weapons and oil supplies
began to arrive from Iran. The two states, despite the Sunni-Shiite divide,
became fast allies.
Allegations soon surfaced regarding
Sudanese support for terrorism. To the consternation of the West, Sudan
provided shelter to the infamous terrorist Carlos the Jackal, and also allowed
Osama bin Laden and his nascent al Qaeda organization to train and operate out
of Sudan for the first half of the 1990s.
In November 1991, Bashir banned
mixed dancing and required women to dress according to Islamic standards.
Transportation was also segregated. Finally, the government instated the
Islamic hudud penalties (stonings, amputations, lashings, and even
In December 1991, Iranian President
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani paid an official visit to Khartoum, accompanied by
more than 150 Iranian officials. "The Islamic Revolution of Sudan,"
he proclaimed, "alongside Iran's pioneer revolution, can doubtless be the
source of movement and revolution throughout the Islamic world." Iran
pledged $17 million in financial aid to Sudan, and arranged for an additional
$300 million in Chinese weapons to be delivered there. Iran further pledged one
million tons of oil each year.
Next, it was reported that Iran sent
up to 2,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Sudan. Iran's Defense Minister, Ali
Akbar Torkan also met with the commander of the Sudanese armed forces to
discuss assistance and personnel exchange. By the end of 1992, Sudan's Popular
Defense Forces were unveiled. Sudan modeled its army after Iran's Revolutionary
Guards, who had trained them. Like their Iranian counterparts, the PDF marched
with guns while reciting the Koran.
The West grew increasingly nervous
over reports of terrorist training in Sudan. It was estimated that there were
at least 10 paramilitary training camps in Sudan providing training to
Palestinian Hamas and other Iran-backed terrorist groups. In 1993, the U.S.
Department of State named Sudan a state sponsor of terror for, among other
things, harboring bin Laden, and training Hamas with Iranian backing.
In November 1995, a military
delegation from Iran visited Khartoum in order to make a new assessment of
Sudan's military needs, yielding Sudan a windfall of armored cars, heavy
artillery, and radar equipment. In May of the following year, the two countries
signed an agreement to broaden the scope of their cooperation.
The key broker for this relationship
was an Islamist ideologue named Hassan al-Turabi. As one analyst noted,
"the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Sudan is Turabi and Turabi is the
movement." By the late 1990s, however, Bashir removed Turabi from office
in a power struggle.
While the West held out hope that
Sudan was about to turn a corner, Bashir reiterated his commitment to sharia.
As one academic observed, "the Islamist agenda has been pursued farther in
Sudan than in many of the better-known examples of contemporary Islamic
Today, the U.S. State Department
maintains that Sudan is a state sponsor of terrorism. Khartoum maintains close ties with Iran. But, the chief reason for
designation is support for Hamas.
The three-way ties over nearly two
decades explains the current Hamas and Iranian support for Bashir, and why they
ignore the incontrovertible evidence of genocide. This yields two key
First, both Sunni and Shiite
Islamists are hypocritical and inconsistent when they proclaim that they seek
More broadly, the Islamist support for the
Darfur genocide reveals much about the dangers of Islamism, and must not be