The Arrival of Islamic Fundamentalism in Sudan – by Lorenzo Vidino

Most studies analyzing the history of al‐Qaeda have focused on the importance of Afghanistan which, under Taliban rule, became the quintessential sanctuary for a terrorist organization. Yet it can be argued that Sudan had an almost equally important role in al‐ Qaeda’s formation. During the first half of the 1990s, when al‐Qaeda was still taking shape, the organization’s center of gravity was in Sudan and linked to the powerful Sudanese cleric and religious leader Hasan al‐Turabi.  In fact, from April 1991 to May 1996, Osama bin Laden, along with hundreds of al‐Qaeda members, lived in Khartoum laying the foundations for his formidable organization.  Although their time in Africa was beneficial to al‐Qaeda, for Sudan it bore heavy economic and political costs.

Lorenzo Vidino, Fletcher MALD 2007, is Deputy Director at The Investigative Project on Terrorism and author of the book Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad (Prometheus, 2006). He is a second year student at The Fletcher School.

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