Quietly nestled into news of activist protests in China (good for them), I noticed this random paragraph in the Washington Post:

Meanwhile, a day after Beijing revoked a visa for Darfur activist and former Olympian Joey Cheek, the U.S. Olympic team selected a Sudanese refugee to be the American delegation’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies, a move that will further highlight China’s role in the war-scarred region.

It makes me proud of the U.S. delegation and our athletes because the choice of a Sudanese immigrant to the U.S. (an African American) to bear our flag before the world highlights traditional American values of freedom and justice:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

America has long served as a sanctuary and a beacon of hope for those fleeing troubled nations. I’m glad that someone made the choice to signify that everyday U.S. citizens stand behind the people of Sudan and not behind a cruel, criminal regime as does the Chinese government. Without China’s purchase of Sudan’s oil and cooperation with the genocidal dictators there, things might be different in Sudan indeed. Oh and let’s not forget the same Sudanese government’s prior sympathetic support of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, shall we?

Are we as Americans against state-sponsored terrorism, no matter where it is found? Actions speak louder than words.

In the run up to the Iraq War, when I suggested to friends that — if we had to invade a country, we should be invading Sudan and not Iraq — people looked at me like I was crazy. Still knowledge is power, y’all. I’m reckoning that people have no idea how dangerous the people running Sudan currently are to Americans and the world at large. From the Council on Foreign Relations:

The State Department first labeled Sudan a sponsor of terrorism on August 12, 1993. Since then, the United States has accused Sudan of harboring members of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Abu Nidal Organization, Jamaat al-Islamiyya, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, each classified as a terrorist organization. In 1996, the UN Security Council placed sanctions (PDF) on Sudan for harboring suspects wanted for the attempted assassination of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. The same year, U.S. investigators linked two Sudanese diplomats to a terrorist cell planning to bomb the UN building in New York. In 1998, al-Qaeda operatives based in Sudan were allegedly involved in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Throughout the 1990s, Sudan was also accused of supporting local insurgencies in Uganda, Tunisia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.


Sudan does have a historic link with al-Qaeda. When al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden left Saudi Arabia in 1991, he moved to Khartoum, where he was protected by a Sudanese regime that had recently imposed Islamic law in Sudan’s northern states. While bin Laden was in Sudan, al-Qaeda was involved in a series of terrorist attacks. In 1992, the group bombed two hotels in Yemen, targeting U.S. troops en route to Somalia. In 1995, al-Qaeda took part in an assassination attempt against Egyptian President Mubarak.


But in 2006, bin Laden’s ties with Sudan resurfaced. After the United Nations proposed to send a peacekeeping force to the war-torn region of Darfur, bin Laden released a tape that told his followers to go to Sudan to fight UN troops. Similar messages were repeated the following year by bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and again by bin Laden himself.

The Sudanese government has opposed the presence of non-African UN troops in Darfur, but Sudanese officials have distanced themselves from bin Laden’s message. A spokesman for Sudan’s foreign ministry responded to bin Laden’s message by saying Sudan was “not concerned with any mujahadeen or any crusade or any war with the international community.”

Yeah, right. bin Laden looks out for his friends.

Connecting the dots here — thwarted in international troublemaking endeavors — the Sudanese government turned inward & started massive ethnic cleansing within their own borders where they reckoned, apparently correctly, most of the world would turn a blind eye. China’s support of what should be a pariah government does not speak well of Chinese authorities. Is the oil really worth it? I’ve lived in China and I know most Chinese people, if they fully understood what the Sudanese were up to, would shudder at their government’s support of Sudan. No one feels good about trading human lives for cheap oil.

The sooner strong multinational action is taken to clean up places like Sudan and Afghanistan/Pakistan, the sooner we will all be much safer.

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