Sudanese rebel leader meets with Israeli spies

A powerful Sudanese rebel leader met secretly with top Israeli espionage officials in Israel earlier this month, Israeli defence officials said on Monday.

The officials would not disclose the substance of the talks between Abdulwahid Elnur of the Sudan Liberation Movement and officials from Israel’s Mossad spy agency. Israel claims weapons have reached Gaza Strip militants via Sudan and that Palestinian militants operate there.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of a security conference Elnur attended, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was confidential.
The Defence Ministry had no immediate comment.

Last year, Elnur’s group opened an office in Israel, which granted temporary residency status to 600 Sudanese who fled the massacres in their country’s vast western Darfur region.

“We must forge new alliances, no longer based upon race or religion, but upon shared values of freedom and democracy. This is why we opened a representative office in Israel,” he said at the time.

Elnur has said in the past that he favours establishing ties with Israel and opening an Israeli Embassy in Khartoum. Sudan considers Israel an enemy state and has no diplomatic relations with it. Elnur could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Elnur fled to France in 2007 and has lived in exile since.

The SLM was founded in 1992, three years after President Omar al-Bashir took power in a military coup, and took up arms in 2003, the year the war in Darfur began. Today it is the largest rebel group, though it has fractured into splinter movements.

The United Nations estimates 300 000 people have died in Darfur, directly from attacks or indirectly through starvation, and 2,5-million more have been driven from their homes.

The International Criminal Court, based in The Netherlands, is expected to decide soon whether to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir in connection with atrocities in Darfur.

Sudan’s government denies the war crimes and genocide accusations and has dismissed the court as a conspiracy against Sudan. It also says the UN death toll estimates are grossly inflated.—Sapa-AP

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