Su­dan deal over com­pen­sa­tion for ‘USS Cole’ bomb

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Su­dan’s tran­si­tional gov­ern­ment said it has signed a deal with the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims of the 2000 bomb­ing of the USS Cole in Aden, Ye­men, meet­ing a key con­di­tion for re­mov­ing the coun­try from Wash­ing­ton’s ter­ror­ism black­list.

Su­dan’s jus­tice min­istry said an agree­ment had been signed with the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims of the at­tack, but it did not spec­ify the amount of com­pen­sa­tion agreed.

“As part of the tran­si­tional gov­ern­ment’s ef­fort to re­move Su­dan from the ter­ror­ism list, a deal has been signed on February 7 with

the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims of the USS Cole in­ci­dent,” the min­istry said.

“The deal clearly spec­i­fies that the gov­ern­ment of Su­dan was not re­spon­si­ble for the in­ci­dent or any such ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent and it is do­ing this deal only to ... ful­fil the con­di­tion put by the Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­move Su­dan from its ter­ror­ism list.”

The US has set bench­marks Su­dan has to meet to be re­moved from the list, which in­cludes North Korea, Iran and Syria. Com­pen­sat­ing the vic­tims of the USS Cole at­tack was a con­di­tion im­posed by Wash­ing­ton.

On Oc­to­ber 12, 2000, a rub­ber boat loaded with ex­plo­sives blew up as it rounded the bow of the guided-mis­sile de­stroyer, which had pulled into Aden for re­fu­elling.

Seven­teen Amer­i­can sailors were killed as well as the two per­pe­tra­tors of the at­tack claimed by Al Qaeda.

A US court ruled that Su­dan, where the bombers were trained, was re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack – a claim Khar­toum al­ways de­nied.

In 2012, a Wash­ing­ton judge or­dered Su­dan to pay more than $300 mil­lion (Dh1.1 bil­lion) to the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies. Other judges went on to order cer­tain banks to make Su­danese as­sets avail­able to start pay­ing the sum.

But in March last year the US Supreme Court over­turned on pro­ce­dural grounds a lower court’s rul­ing or­der­ing Su­dan to pay da­m­ages to the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims. In 1993, Wash­ing­ton listed Su­dan on its ter­ror­ism black­list for its al­leged sup­port of ex­trem­ist groups. Al Qaeda’s founder Osama bin Laden lived in Su­dan from 1992 to 1996.

Su­dan’s new au­thor­i­ties have pri­ori­tised hav­ing the coun­try re­moved from the black­list, which of­fi­cials in Khar­toum say has stunted the coun­try’s eco­nomic re­vival.

In Oc­to­ber 2017, the US lifted its decades-old trade em­bargo on Su­dan.

In an­other step restor­ing the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tional stand­ing, Khar­toum said this week it had agreed to hand Al Bashir to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court to face trial on charges of war crimes and geno­cide dur­ing the fight­ing in the western Dar­fur re­gion.

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