Ninety-fifth edition of the N&O column / Spooks newsletter

(Date: Fri, 03 Jun 2005 00:00:23 +0200)

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Intelligence profile: Sudan


Military regimes favouring Islamic-oriented governments have dominated national politics since independence from the UK in 1956. Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war for all but 10 years of this period (1972 -1982). The wars are rooted in northern economic, political, and social domination of non-Muslim, non-Arab southern Sudanese. Since 1983, the war and war- and famine-related effects have led to more than 2 million deaths and over 4 million people displaced. The ruling regime is a mixture of military elite and an Islamist party that came to power in a 1989 coup. Some northern opposition parties have made common cause with the southern rebels and entered the war as a part of an anti-government alliance. Peace talks gained momentum in 2002-03 with the signing of several accords, including a cease-fire agreement. In 2004 the war in Dafur escalated again.


Country name   Jumhuriyat as-Sudan (Republic of the Sudan)
Capital   Khartoum
Administrative divisions   26 states (wilayat, singular - wilayah);
A'ali an Nil, Al Bahr al Ahmar, Al Buhayrat, Al Jazirah, Al Khartum, Al Qadarif, Al Wahdah, An Nil al Abyad, An Nil al Azraq, Ash Shamaliyah, Bahr al Jabal, Gharb al Istiwa'iyah, Gharb Bahr al Ghazal, Gharb Darfur, Gharb Kurdufan, Janub Darfur, Janub Kurdufan, Junqali, Kassala, Nahr an Nil, Shamal Bahr al Ghazal, Shamal Darfur, Shamal Kurdufan, Sharq al Istiwa'iyah, Sinnar, Warab

Military branches

Sudanese People's Armed Forces (SPAF), Navy, Air Force, Popular Defense Forces.

Intelligence & security

The Office of State Security was established by decree in 1971 within the Ministry of Interior. The new agency was charged with evaluating information gathered by the police and military intelligence; it was also responsible for prison administration and passport control. The sensitive central security file and certain other intelligence functions were, however, maintained under the president's control. In 1978 the presidential and Ministry of Interior groups were merged to form the State Security Organisation (SSO). The SSO was dismantled in 1985.

In 1989 the government created a new security body, the Revolutionary Security Force (Amn Al-Thawra). It was under the direct control of a member of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (RCC-NS). Its purpose was to protect the regime against internal plots and to act as a watchdog over other security forces and the military. It quickly became notorious for indiscriminate arrests of suspected opponents of the regime and for torturing them in its own safe houses before turning them over to prison authorities for further detention. A similar organization, Youth for Reconstruction, mobilized younger Islamic activists. The Amn Al-Thawra does not exist anymore but it is likely that it has been replaced by a similar agency.

Information about the Sudanese intelligence organizations is scarce. I could however find some information of which I know that it is reliable. According to these sources today's intelligence services include the NSF which is composed of two branches, the Al Amn al-Dakhili (internal security) and Al Amn al-Khariji (external security); the Military Intelligence Service; the Popular Police; and the intelligence branch of the SPF.

Both the Al Amn al-Dakhili and the Al Amn al-Khariji report to the President via the Minister of Security. Al Amn al-Dakhili has several directorates that include a political and an economic directorate. Rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) hold 26% of the posts in Sudan's intelligence services following a peace agreement signed on 9 January 2005.

The Popular Police does not belong to the Sudan Police Force. It is a non-official security service consisting of Islamic volunteers. They are the ears and eyes of the NSF. The volunteers infiltrate into the refugee camps etc to get their information.


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