Su­dan seeks to end ter­ror des­ig­na­tion in USS Cole set­tle­ment

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - WEATHER - By Noha Elhennawy

CAIRO >> Su­dan’s tran­si­tional gov­ern­ment said Thurs­day it has reached a set­tle­ment with fam­i­lies of the vic­tims of the 2000 at­tack on the USS Cole in Ye­men, a key step in hav­ing the U.S. re­move Su­dan from its list of state spon­sors of ter­ror­ism so it can re­join the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity af­ter years of ex­clu­sion.

Copies of the agree­ments ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press show that $70 mil­lion will be split among fam­i­lies of 17 people killed, as well as 15 sailors who were in­jured and two of their spouses. In the agree­ment, Su­dan makes no ad­mis­sion of wrong­do­ing.

The an­nounce­ment was the lat­est in a series of ef­forts by the in­terim gov­ern­ment to close the book on for­mer Pres­i­dent Omar al-Bashir, whose three decades of iron-fisted rule was brought to an end in pop­u­lar protests last year.

Al-Bashir’s Is­lamist gov­ern­ment pro­moted poli­cies that en­sured Su­dan re­mained a pariah to much of the world. The In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court has ac­cused him of geno­cide for his lead­er­ship of a scorched-earth cam­paign in the south­ern area of Dar­fur in re­sponse to a rebel in­sur­gency there. Up to 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 mil­lion were driven from their homes.

But in re­cent weeks the tran­si­tional gov­ern­ment has sought to erase rem­nants of al-Bashir’s rule so it can heal the coun­try’s bat­tered econ­omy. On Tues­day, it said it would hand him and other Su­danese of­fi­cials over to the court in The Hague to be tried for war crimes.

Set­tling the case of the USS Cole would be an­other big move in Su­dan’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

On Oct. 12, 2000, two sui­cide bombers in a boat det­o­nated their ex­plo­sives along­side the USS Cole as the U.S. Navy de­stroyer was re­fu­el­ing in the Yemeni port of Aden. The blast killed 17 sailors and wounded more than three dozen oth­ers.

Su­dan was ac­cused of pro­vid­ing sup­port to al-Qaida, which claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack. Un­der al-Bashir, the coun­try was des­ig­nated by Wash­ing­ton as a “state spon­sor of ter­ror” for host­ing the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, in the early years of his mil­i­tant move­ment.

DIM­ITRI MESSINIS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Ex­perts in a speed boat ex­am­ine the dam­aged hull of the USS Cole at the Yemeni port of Aden af­ter an al-Qaida at­tack that killed 17sailors on Oct. 15, 2000.

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