Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sudan Update: Weapons convoy bombing incident clarified. "U.S.A. didn't do it. It was the Israelis!"

Updates March 28-31, 2009

Information about the ‘UFO incident’ over Sudan is becoming somewhat clearer now. Apparently CBS News was not the original source but the new Egyptian newspaper named Al Shorouk (Hat tip to The Arabist for being on top of the breaking news story from the very beginning).

According to updated reports from the New York Times, The Lede blog at the New York Times, and reports from Israel’s Haaretz Newspaper ‘the Israelis done it!’ The Pentagon and the White House have yet to (officially) comment on the incident but Israel’s outgoing president Ehud Olmert has more-or-less confirmed that it was the IAF in a speech he gave on Thursday (source: Haaretz Newspaper):

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hinted on Thursday at Israel's suspected role in an air-strike that reportedly hit a convoy of arms smugglers as it drove through Sudan toward Egypt in January. "We operate everywhere where we can hit terror infrastructure - in close places, in places further away, everywhere where we can hit terror infrastructure, we hit them and we hit them in a way that increases deterrence," said Olmert, speaking at a conference in Herzliya.

End excerpt___

Time Magazine (TIME.com) has one of the best updated reports that I have read on the raid over Sudan. According to Time.com sources this is what really happened:

TIME.com (Time Magazine)
How Israel Foiled an Arms Convoy Bound for Hamas
March 30, 2009

Israeli fighter-bombers, backed by unmanned drones, were responsible for a mid-January attack on a 23-truck convoy in the Sudanese desert carrying arms to Hamas militants, two highly-placed Israeli security sources revealed to TIME. The attack was a warning to Iran and other adversaries, showing Israel's intelligence capability and its willingness to mount operations far beyond its borders in order to defend itself from gathering threats.

The sources revealed exclusive details about the bold air attack on what they said was an Iranian weapons convoy, which had been transporting rockets and explosives destined for Gaza during the Israeli assault on the small Palestinian territory. They denied earlier news reports that U.S. aircraft had been involved in the attack on the arms convoy as it crossed at night through the Sudanese desert heading for Egypt's poorly guarded border. "The Americans were notified that Israel was going to conduct an air operation in Sudan, but they were not involved," a source said. He denied prior claims by a U.S. television network that a ship and a second convoy were destroyed. "There was only one raid, and it was a major operation," he said, adding that "dozens of aircraft" were used.

F-16 fighter-bombers carried out two runs on the convoy, while F-15 fighter planes circled overhead as a precaution in case hostile aircraft were scrambled from Khartoum or a nearby country. After the first bombing run, drones mounted with high-resolution cameras passed over the burning trucks. The video showed that the convoy had only been partially damaged, so the Israelis ordered a second pass with the F-16s. During the 1,750-mile (2800 km) journey to Sudan and back, the Israeli aircraft refueled in midair over the Red Sea.

The bombing raid came after an intelligence tip-off. In early January, at the height of Israel's assault on Gaza, Israel's foreign intelligence agency Mossad was told by an informant that Iran was planning a major delivery of 120 tons of arms and explosives to Gaza, including anti-tank rockets and Fajir rockets with a 25 mile range and a 45 kg warhead. With little time to plan the operation, naval vessels and helicopters were rushed to the Red Sea in case Israel had to rescue a downed pilot, and the plan was rushed through. "The Israelis had less than a week to pull this all together," a source said.

The Iranian shipment was bound for Port Sudan. From there, according to the security sources, the Iranians had organized a smuggler's convoy of 23 trucks that would take the weapons across Egypt's southern border and up into the Sinai. Hamas would then take charge of the weapons and smuggle them into Gaza through the tunnels unscathed by Israeli bombardments.

It was a route used occasionally by Hamas, but never before on such a large scale, sources said. "This was the first time that the Iranians had tried to send Hamas a shipment this big via Sudan — and it is probably the last," he said. Several Iranians were killed in the raid, along with Sudanese smugglers and drivers, the source claimed. "No doubt the Iranians are checking back to see who might have leaked this to the Israelis," he said.

End excerpt___

American government officials who asked to remain anonymous spoke with The New York Times earlier this week about the air raid in Sudan. Here is how the New York Times describes the incident:

The New York Times
U.S. Officials Say Israel Struck in Sudan by Jeffrey Gettleman and Michael R. Gordon – March 26, 2009

Israeli warplanes bombed a convoy of trucks in Sudan in January that was believed to be carrying arms to be smuggled into Gaza, according to American officials.

Israeli officials refused to confirm or deny the attack, but intelligence analysts noted that the strike was consistent with other measures Israel had taken to secure its borders.

American officials said the airstrike took place as Israel sought to stop the flow of weapons to Gaza during the weeks it was fighting a war with Hamas there.

Two American officials who are privy to classified intelligence assessments said that Iran had been involved in the effort to smuggle weapons to Gaza. They also noted that there had been intelligence reports that an operative with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had gone to Sudan to coordinate the effort.

But one former official said that the exact provenance of the arms that were being smuggled via Sudan was unclear.

Although the airstrike was carried out two months ago, it was not publicized until Sudanese officials said Thursday that a convoy of trucks in the remote eastern part of Sudan was bombed by what they called “American fighters,” killing dozens. The strikes were first reported on several Internet-based news sites, including CBSNews.com.

End excerpt____

AFRICOM, the new U.S. Africa Command (based in Germany), issued the following statement via their spokesman Vince Crawley (source: The New York Times)

Vince Crawley, a spokesman for the United States Africa Command, said American forces had not bombed Sudan. “The U.S. military has not conducted any airstrikes, fired any missiles or undertaken any combat operations in or around Sudan since October 2008, when U.S. Africa Command formally became responsible for U.S. military action in Africa,” he said.

The American officials who described the Israeli role declined to be identified because they were discussing classified information and were not authorized to speak for the Obama administration. One American military official said the January strike was one of a series of Israeli attacks against arms shipments bound for Gaza.

End excerpt____

If it is true that Iran sent operatives to Sudan to facilitate the smuggling of short-range missiles and sophisticated armor-piercing munitions to Hamas in Gaza, then Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his regime have a helluva lot more to worry about than an ICC arrest warrant for his war crimes against the people of Darfur.

Why didn’t Sudan’s air force and navy detect and engage (intercept) the squadrons consisting of numerous Israeli fighters and bombers entering Sudan airspace. Was it cowardice (most likely) or did the Sudanese military simply not see these aircraft on their sophisticated new defense radar systems? What about the hundreds of Chinese and Russian military advisors running around the country, they must have seen something? Non? Nichts?

It is no wonder that Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak didn’t bother to share the stage with Sudan’s president and Libya’s leader Muammar el-Qaddafi at the Arab League Summit in Doha (Qatar) this week. Sudan is on the road to perdition under this regime, and so is anyone who is foolish enough to back them, including their ‘brothers-in-arms’ at the Doha Summit.

Related articles and resources

TIME.com (Time Magazine International edition)
How Israel Foiled an Arms Convoy Bound for Hamas 03/30/09

The New York Times
Often Split, Arab Leaders Unite for Sudan’s Chief 03/30/09
U.S. Officials Say Israel Struck in Sudan 03/26/09

The Lede: the New York Times’ news blog
Qaddafi Erupts, on Schedule 03/30/09
Sudan Airstrike Mystery Update 03/27/09

Haaretz.com (Israel)
Sudan says Israel 'most probably' behind attack (text and video) 03/27/09
'Egypt boosts Sudan border troops over Gaza smuggling' 03/27/09
IAF Sudan strike / Olmert: Israel will target threats near and far 03/26/09
ANALYSIS : In bombing Sudan, Israel sends message to Iran by Amos Harel 03/26/09

The Arabist (Cairo, Egypt)
Qadhafi never disappoints (Libya's leader at the Arab Summit in Doha) 03/31/09
The Prince of Hyperbole 03/29/09
ABC News: Three Israeli attacks on Sudan, not just one 03/28/09
Things to remember about the Sudan air strike 03/27/09
Mubarak will not go to Doha Arab summit 03/27/09
On al-Shorouk (interview with the author of The Arabist) 03/27/09
CBS says Israel, not US, behind Sudan strike 03/26/09

Spiegel Online International (Germany)
Al-Bashir Arrest Warrant: Qatari Emir Warns of 'Chaos' in Sudan 03/28/09
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine interviews the Emir of Qatar re: Sudan’s President al-Bashir and the ICC arrest warrant before the Arab League Summit in Doha

The Washington Post
Sudan Alleges Foreign Airstrikes Near Border With Egypt 03/27/09

The Christian Science Monitor
Will Arab leaders discuss Israeli airstrike in Sudan? 03/29/09

Foreign Policy Magazine
FP Blogs: Mark Lynch – author of the Abu Aardvark Middle East blog
The Doha Summit: A user's guide

The Arab League Summit (Doha, Qatar) – March 30-31, 2009

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Sudanese Guardian said...

hi there,
This is my first time in your blog and it is nice to see that you are blogging about Sudan and clearing out the truth to people. as a Sudanese I feel that a lot of Sudanese people should blog about Sudan and the situation over there to show the world and to show the million of Sudanese who live abroad and INSIDE SUDAN about their country situation especially the peace process and the Darfur issue, today we live in a globalized world where an economic problem that happens in Europe can affect the middle east and visa-versa. I personally was keeping track of the Sudanese channel when this incident of bombing happened. The interesting point is that sudan national tv did not mention anything about this and the funny thing is that the Sudanese people who ware in sudan know about this before the news paper in sudan started to talk about it. How did they know, they know by generous people like you, bloggers who blog about sudan and help the people to understand what is happening outside. I wrote a blog about this in my blog about how Sudanese government want to limit journalist right to write what they wish to write in this blog post (http://sudaneseguardian.blogspot.com/2009/05/stop-censorship-sudan-government-tries.html) please check it if you have time. When I ask about how did some of my friend knew about this bombing they said the internet. What is ludicrous about this situation is that there is some censorship on some site in Sudan but Sudan government cannot block all site. So while the Sudanese government was not broadcasting this bombing incident in the news the whole nation knew about it. The second point is WHY IS THE SUDANESE GOVERNMENT GOING OUT AND SENDING THESE WAPON WHEN THEY HAVE A PROBLEM AT HOME THEY NEED TO SOLVE ARE THEY LOOKING FOR MORE TROUBLE. I know I have typed a lot but thanks for your post and it was nice to read your blog
Sudanese Guardian
http://sudaneseguardian.blogspot.com/ (welcome to my blog anytime)

Mahid said...

hi, by the way there is a new update about this news, the Sudan Tribune website has an article that is updating what happened at that time. here is the link to the article http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article31278. what is funny is that they're saying they didn't want to talk about this incident because they didn't want to in danger the good relationship that they have with their neighbors. I do not know what neighbors are they talking about but I'm sure it is not chad.
Here is the article link