Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Sudan Found Liable in Terrorism Trial in the Bombing of the USS Cole
A federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia today found the government of Sudan liable of terrorism for the Oct. 12, 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen.

"There is substantial evidence in this case presented by the expert testimony that the government of Sudan induced the particular bombing of the Cole by virtue of prior actions of the government of Sudan," U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar said.

(Full disclosure: I gave a deposition as an expert witness supporting the victims' charge in the Sudan case).

This was a little noticed but important trial for the issue of material support for terrorism. The families of the 17 people killed in the al Qaeda bombing of the USS Cole sued the government of Sudan for offering the support that made the attack possible.

It is extremely important, in the ongoing battle with Islamists, to establish clear legal culpability, and the families in the Cole case did that. The judge's decision, not expected for several days, seems to bear out how overwhelming the evidence was.

Another indication is that, unlike the trial for Sudan's responsibility in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. Embassies in East Africa, the government of Sudan, run by hardcore Islamists who gave al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden shelter and support, did not take, according to its attorneys, any position on the material facts of the case.

This case is important because, rather than simply isolating an individual act of terrorism, these cases attempt to go to the broader Islamist structure that underpins these attacks and makes them possible. The same is true for the 9/11 victims' lawsuit mired down in the legal system in New York.

It also eventually wears away the legal technicalities and smokescreens these groups continue to throw up to hide their true agenda of recreating the _caliphate_ and imposing Islam on the world.

Sudan has played, and likely continues to play, a crucial role in the support network that makes Islamist terrorism possible.

This includes many of the Islamist banks that allow money to flow through them, businesses that run by _jihadists_ and all the other components that make possible the river of money flowing to the spread of _wahhabist_ theology.

Ultimately, until that river of funds that passes from Saudi Arabia through Sudan and elsewhere, is cut off, the enemy has an uninterrupted supply line to replenish and arm itself.

It only asked that the case be dismissed because it was filed too late, a motion the judge summarily dismissed.

The ability to inflict monetary damages on state sponsors of terror is significant, if very difficult to achieve because the states are usually able to move most of their assets beyond the reach of the law.

But what is more significant is to hold these states (and non-state groups) publicly accountable, to use the discovery process to better understand the systems they so desperately try to obscure, and to build an clearer understanding of the scope of the Islamist groups that want to kill us.

Sudan has been utterly ruthless in its support not just of bin Laden but of the _janjaweed_ and their unspeakable atrocities in Darfur. Those responsible in that case are starting to be named and shamed by the slow process of the International Criminal Court.

The Cole case is one more piece in the accountability puzzle. I hope the families get the money they deserve, as nothing can replace the lives of those lost.

Beyond that, I hope the standard of proof of culpability for Sudan's infamy will serve as a catalyst to take a broader look at those who aid and abet groups whose basic understanding of their religion is that we all must die.

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