Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi

Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi was an Islamist Sudanese politician and a longtime advisor to incumbent Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.Lawrence Joffe, “Hassan al-Turabi obituary,” Guardian (London), March 11, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/11/hassan-al-turabi-obituary. Turabi advocated sharia (Islamic law) in Sudan and was linked to Osama bin Laden, inviting him in 1990 to relocate his terrorist network to Sudan. Turabi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan, and led several Brotherhood-linked political parties including the Islamic Charter Front (ICF), the National Islamic Front (NIF), and the Popular National Congress Party (PNCP).Lawrence Joffe, “Hassan al-Turabi obituary,” Guardian (London), March 11, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/11/hassan-al-turabi-obituary;
“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.
Turabi is also believed to have had connections with al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah. He died in March 2016.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.

Turabi was born in 1932 in the eastern Sudanese town of Kassala. He reportedly attended Islamic schools throughout his childhood before studying law in Khartoum, receiving a Master’s degree in London, and then a PhD at Sorbonne University in Paris.“Profile: Sudan’s Islamist leader,” BBC News, January 15, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3190770.stm. Following his schooling, Turabi became the dean of the School of Law at the University of Khartoum.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.

In 1963, Turabi and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan—which had formed in 1949—established the Brotherhood’s political party, the Islamic Charter Front (ICF). Turabi was soon elected secretary general of the party.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm. The ICF advocated an Islamist constitution and operated on university campuses in an effort to recruit younger, educated members.“Islamic Charter Front,” Oxford Islamic Studies, accessed October 11, 2016, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e1095.

Turabi’s ICF was dissolved in 1969 following a military coup led by socialist Nafar al-Numayri.“Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan,” Oxford Islamic Studies, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e1641;
“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.
Following Numayri’s rule, Turabi reorganized the former ICF leadership and formed a new political party, the National Islamic Front (NIF), serving as its secretary general. He was appointed Sudan’s minister of justice and attorney general in May 1988, and then minister of foreign affairs in December of that year. Turabi stepped down from these positions in 1989, when he refused to support a peace agreement that advocated secularism in the south Sudan region.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm. Turabi backed a 1989 military coup, which placed General Omar al Bashir in power of Sudan and in charge of the NIF.“National Congress Party (NCP),” Sudan Tribune, accessed September 30, 2016, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?mot137;
“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.
Turabi reportedly advised Bashir in his efforts to fashion a government in accordance with Islamic law.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm; “Profile: Sudan’s Islamist leader,” BBC News, January 15, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3190770.stm.

As Bashir’s right-hand man and advisor, Turabi was given the autonomy to advance the NIF’s Islamist agenda by establishing ties with a number of extremist individuals, most notoriously Osama bin Laden, who was married to Turabi’s niece. In 1989, Turabi reportedly invited bin Laden to “transplant his whole organization to Sudan,” according to findings released by the United States 9/11 Commission report.Greg Botelho, Sudanese Islamist leader, bin Laden ally Hassan al-Turabi dies,” CNN, March 5, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/05/africa/sudan-hassan-al-turabi-dies/;
Lawrence Joffe, “Hassan al-Turabi obituary,” Guardian (London), March 11, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/11/hassan-al-turabi-obituary.
Bin Laden accepted the invitation and promised to fight against Christian separatists in southern Sudan in exchange for safe haven.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.

Turabi was also linked to a number of extremist organizations. In 1991, Turabi founded the Popular Arab and Islamic Congress (PAIC), an annual conference that brought together global militant Islamist leaders. The PAIC congregations are believed to have hosted leaders and representatives from al-Qaeda, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas, and Hezbollah.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.

In addition to aligning himself with extremist groups, Turabi is believed to have carried out gross human rights violations, including the conscription of child soldiers. For example, in the 1990s, Turabi organized the “Civilization Project,” a program which indoctrinated youth to high-school-aged boys whom he forced to fight against the Christian population in southern Sudan.Ahmed Kodouda, “Sudan’s Islamist Resurrection: al-Turabi and the Successor Regime,” African Arguments, February 24, 2016, http://africanarguments.org/2016/02/24/sudans-islamist-resurrection-al-turabi-and-the-successor-regime/;
“Sudan’s Islamist Regime: The Rise and Fall of the ’Civilization Project’,” Democracy First Group, accessed November 3, 2016, http://www.democracyfirstgroup.org/sudans-islamist-regime-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-civilization-project/.
The program also included the purging of non-Islamists from government entities, including civil service, military, and security functions. Non-Islamists were reportedly subject to torture as part of Turabi’s push to implement sharia in Sudan.Ahmed Kodouda, “Sudan’s Islamist Resurrection: al-Turabi and the Successor Regime,” African Arguments, February 24, 2016, http://africanarguments.org/2016/02/24/sudans-islamist-resurrection-al-turabi-and-the-successor-regime/.

The partnership between Bashir and Turabi dissolved soon after Bashir reorganized the NIF to form the National Congress Party (NCP) in 1998. In December 1999, following a yearlong power struggle, Bashir stripped Turabi of his position of secretary general in the NCP.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm. Turabi then split from that party with a group of followers and formed the Popular National Congress Party (PNCP), which continues to denounce both secularism and democracy and promoted an openly Islamist agenda. The PNCP has since struggled to establish itself as a robust political party, winning marginal parliamentary seats each election cycle.Popular Congress Party, Popular National Congress Party (PNCP),” Global Security, accessed October 11, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/political-parties-pcp.htm.

Turabi was continuously arrested by the Sudanese government following his split from the NCP. He was arrested three separate times for coup allegations in February of 2001, March of 2004, and March of 2008.“Profile: Sudan’s Islamist leader,” BBC News, January 15, 2009, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3190770.stm;
“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.
Following his 2008 arrest, Turabi was imprisoned again in March 2010 for condemning the national elections as fraudulent.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.In Turabi’s final arrest, he was detained by Sudanese officials for several months, alongside eight other PNCP leaders, in January 2011 for encouraging an anti-Bashir uprising in Khartoum.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm

In March 2015, Turabi was reportedly hospitalized after collapsing in his office. A year later, Turabi died on March 5, 2016 from a heart attack. His funeral was reportedly attended by thousands of mourners who sympathized with his political and ideological views.“Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi,” Global Security, accessed October 7, 2016, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/sudan/turabi.htm.

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