- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 14, 2004

KASS, Sudan — Sudan’s government is training Arab Muslim militiamen, who have brought terror to western Sudan, at secret camps in preparation for guerrilla war if foreign peacekeepers are deployed here, according to an official.

“They say that they will fight the infidels just as the mujahideen in Iraq are doing. Iraq is their inspiration,” said a resident of Kass, a south Darfur market town surrounded by dozens of abandoned and burned ghost villages after a year of Janjaweed attacks.

Sudanese army officers are providing training for Janjaweed militia as part of clandestine efforts to integrate the militia into security forces in Darfur.

Camel-riding fighters have boasted to local residents that they are preparing to fight any “invaders” sent to restore order to a region where an estimated 50,000 black Africans have been killed and more than 1 million forced from their homes in a yearlong frenzy of ethnic cleansing by Arab militiamen.

The militia has kept a lower profile in recent days as international attention focused on Darfur, but local African tribesmen insist that many of the Arab herders leading camel trains across the scrub and heading into Nyala and Kass for the weekly livestock markets took part in the rampages.

The existence of the Janjaweed training camps in remote corners of Darfur was confirmed to the London Sunday Telegraph by a prominent politician from his own contacts within the regime.

Jaffer Monro is a member of parliament for the ruling National Congress in the one-party state, but he took the risk of breaking ranks with the government to condemn events in his home province.

“The Janjaweed are being given proper military training ready for a further escalation in the conflict,” said Mr. Monro, a member of the parliament’s human rights committee, who belongs to the Fur tribe. “They are being trained by the government authorities in case foreign troops are sent here.”

Two senior figures from the United Nations visited the region last week to assess options as the Aug. 30 Security Council deadline for the Sudanese government to rein in the Janjaweed or face sanctions approaches.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that his country would consider sending troops to Darfur as part of an international mission to restore security. Gen. Mike Jackson, the chief of general staff, indicated that up to 5,000 British troops could be made available.

The Sudanese government has flatly rejected calls for international intervention, particularly by Western countries, and has repeatedly claimed through the state media that Britain is leading efforts to turn Sudan into “another Iraq.”

President Omar Bashir, who declared “Long live the mujahideen” at a meeting of Janjaweed fighters in Nyala in May, intensified the anti-British rhetoric in a speech on Thursday.

“There is an agenda to seek petrol and gold in the region,” he said, singling out Britain as the old colonial power for particular opprobrium.

Muhammad Yacoub, a leading Arab sheik in south Darfur who was named in local government documents leaked to Human Rights Watch as an important militia chief, delivered his own warning to British forces in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph.

“Our friendship with the British is very old, but we do not need their interference,” said Mr. Yacoub, 62, the supreme leader of the Tarjum tribe who was dressed in traditional white robes and skullcap during an interview in his garden in Nyala. “This is our land and we would fight British troops if they came here. Please pass that message to Mr. Blair.”

He denied that there were any Arab militias. He said the Janjaweed were bandits taking advantage of the conflict, but he added that some Arab patriots had sided with government forces to fight last year’s rebellion.

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