Sudanese Still Bitter Towards U.S.

By ANDREW ENGLAND, Associated Press

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) - When President Bush talks about punishing those responsible for this week's terrorist attacks, some Sudanese say they can't help but remember with bitterness the cruise missiles the United States sent in retaliation for the 1998 embassy bombings.

On Aug. 20, 1998, much of the El Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum was reduced to rubble by the missiles, which were fired to avenge terrorist bombings at U.S embassies in Kenya and Tanzania 13 days earlier that killed 231 people, 12 of them Americans.

``They bombed this factory because they got their facts wrong. It was not right,'' said Amir Mohammed Nuor, one of the security guards on duty the night El Shifa was bombed. ``At that time I hated America - the government, not American people.''

No one died in the attack on the factory - three of the five night guards were injured - but the blast shocked the Sudanese and planted seeds of hatred toward the United States.

Then-President Clinton  alleged that El Shifa was making precursors for chemical weapons, claims that were never substantiated. It was also alleged that the factory was connected to Osama bin Laden, who has been indicted by a U.S. federal court for masterminding the embassy bombings.

Bin Laden is also a prime suspect in Tuesday's attacks.

To the Sudanese, the bombing of El Shifa was an unwarranted act of aggression based on misinformation. The factory simply made pharmaceutical products for people and animals, they say.

In the early 1990s, Bin Laden was in Sudan - a predominantly Muslim nation and one of seven countries listed by the U.S. State Department as a sponsor of international terrorism - but he left for Afghanistan  in 1996.

U.S. officials in Washington said Friday they still suspect that bin Laden has training camps in Sudan.

``They are looking for a scapegoat, they are looking for a weak target,'' said Abdulrahman Ahmadsoun, news editor of a pro-government newspaper, Alwan. ``They can send cruise missiles here, and we cannot stop it.''

President Omar el Bashir's Islamic government - treated as an international pariah for the last 10 years - was quick to condemn the attack on the United States. A Foreign Ministry statement said Sudan ``rejects all kinds of violence.''

Most Khartoum papers have also adopted a sympathetic tone. Nuor, the security guard, said he also felt sorry.

``I like the American people, and I'm sorry for what happened .. it was terrible,'' he said.

But Sudanese say the United States should think carefully before attempting to take revenge.

``International terrorism cannot be eradicated by cruise missile attacks on Sudan, Libya or Afghanistan,'' said Ghazi Suleiman, the attorney of the owner of El Shifa. ``America has to help these countries establish transparent, democratic governments. That's the solution.''