Sudan Remains on List of State Sponsors for Terrorism Despite Facts Suggesting Otherwise

Late last week the United States Department of State released its list Country Reports on Terrorism 2010. This document is an annual report submitted to Congress detailing the terrorist activities of countries and group designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism or Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

Prior to the released of this report many believed that Sudan would be released from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Unfortunately for Sudan, that was not the case. Moreover, it is unclear why they remain on the list as the information regarding Sudan in the report does not denote any sponsorship of terrorism and if anything shows that Sudan is working with the U.S. on a number of counter terrorism efforts. For example, the report indicates that, “The Sudanese government has taken steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist groups within Sudan and has worked hard to disrupt foreign fighters’ use of Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for violent extremists going to Iraq” and that “Sudan was generally responsive to the international community’s concerns on terrorism and was generally supportive of international counterterrorism efforts.” Regardless, the report noted, “elements of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, including al-Qa’ida inspired terrorists, remained in Sudan, as gaps remained in the Sudanese government’s knowledge of and ability to identify and capture these individuals as well as prevent them from exploiting the territory for smuggling activities.” In other words, the State Department maintains Sudan on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism because although they are cooperating and working hard to counter terrorist efforts, they do not have sufficient ability to identify and capture terrorists that remain in their country. I am not a terrorist expert by any stretch of the imagination, however, that sounds less like sponsorship and more like ineptitude. I am not entirely clear how Sudan’s inability to capture terrorists in their country correlates to their sponsorship of such terrorists. I would be happy to hear from anyone who can maybe clear this up for me.

So what does this mean for those dealing with Sudanese sanctions administered by the United States Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)? First, those that thought the current limitations in transacting with Southern Sudan would dissipate upon the removal of Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, are in for a longer wait then initially anticipated. As such, strict compliance programs for those transacting in Southern Sudan are still a must.

Second, those who have been holding off on filing license applications to transact with Sudan in hopes that they would be removed from the list and relieved of the burden of sanctions, should reconsider their strategy. Despite reports to the contrary, it seems that the U.S. Government is committed to keeping Sudan on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism for the time being. Thus, it seems any hopes of sanctions being removed against Sudan are premature at this time.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or

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