U.S. President Donald Trump says the United States will remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism after the country follows through on an agreement to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to U.S. terror victims and families.
Trump tweeted Monday: “GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to U.S. terror victims and families. Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!"
The move would allow Sudan to once again receive international loans and aid that are needed to boost the country’s economy.
It could also pave the way for Sudan to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, as the Trump administration seeks to broker deals for Arab countries to recognize Israel. The administration has facilitated such agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok thanked Trump in a tweet Monday, saying the terrorism-sponsor designation has seriously harmed Sudan. He added that the Sudanese people have never supported terrorism, and that the U.S. move is a strong support for the country’s transition to democracy.
The $335 million that Sudan has agreed to pay to Americans is for victims of al-Qaida attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and for the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 in a Yemeni port. U.S. courts have found that Sudan was complicit in those attacks.
Sudan Terror Victims, an advocacy group for the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing victims, said Monday that the majority of victims issued a statement reiterating their rejection of Sudan’s settlement offer.
The group said the proposed settlement payments prioritize American-born victims and give substantially less money to victims who are naturalized U.S. citizens not born in the United States. It says more than 500 of the 700 U.S. Embassy bombing victims have signed a letter rejecting the settlement terms.
Edith Bartley, spokesperson for the families of the Americans killed in the embassy bombing in Nairobi, thanked the U.S. State Department and the new government in Sudan for securing compensation for the victims.
A lawyer representing the families of victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania expressed fears that the Sudan agreement, and potential subsequent action by Congress to restore the country’s sovereign immunity, could endanger those families’ ability to seek their own compensation.
"The 9/11 families are counting on Congress to reject Sudan's plea that our pending lawsuits be wiped out and they insist it do nothing that would undermine them,” said Jack Quinn, who represents 2,500 families in a lawsuit against Sudan.
Sudan was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 over U.S. allegations that Sudan’s then-leader Omar al-Bashir was supporting Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups. Bashir was removed from power last year.
If Sudan is removed from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, only three countries would remain – Iran, North Korea and Syria.