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Sunday, 23 September, 2001, 19:13 GMT 20:13 UK
Bin Laden's Sudan links remain
Osama Bin Laden used to live in the capital Khartoum
By Andrew Harding in Khartoum

Sudan is one of seven countries still accused by the United States of sponsoring international terrorism.

Osama Bin Laden lived in the country for five years in the early 1990s but now Sudan's government insists it is co-operating fully with the United States in its campaign against terrorists.

Sudan map

Osama Bin Laden's old house still stands in a suburb of Khartoum.

The armed guards have long gone and a new family has moved in, but journalists are not allowed close.

The Sudanese authorities are understandably keen to play down their links to the world's most wanted man.

Asked to leave

In the early nineties, though, Bin Laden was a prominent guest here.

He owned construction and trading companies, he built bridges and roads all over the country.

A jet plane that he once brought from America still sits on the tarmac at Khartoum airport.

The government insists he was simply an investor who was asked to leave in 1996, but a former associate told an American court that Bin Laden was busy training terrorists here and even trying to buy material for a nuclear bomb.

US investigations

Today Sudan says it is co-operating fully with the United States.

American investigators have been allowed to work here for more than a year already, trying to learn more about Bin Laden's network.

Remains of Khartoum factory hit by US missiles
Sudan has been hit by US missiles before

A senior foreign ministry official, Chol Deng Alak, said his country is now more determined than ever to prove that it is not a safe haven for terrorists.

Diplomats here privately agree that Sudan has made significant progress, but it is hard to be sure whether or not Bin Laden still has money or supporters hidden here, and for the moment US sanctions remain in place.

Changing country

Only three years ago American missiles destroyed a factory on the outskirts of Khartoum.

Washington said it was making chemical weapons. Sudan denies it.

Few people here seem to expect any new strikes.

Sheltering from the scorching heat in an air-conditioned internet cafe, a group of students said their country was changing, becoming more open and less authoritarian.

All condemned the attacks in the United States, but many people in Khartoum seem willing to believe a popular conspiracy theory - that Israeli or American agents were responsible and not Osama Bin Laden.

See also:

23 Sep 01 | Americas
Clinton ordered Bin Laden killing
31 Aug 98 | Africa
Sudan denies Bin Laden links
18 Sep 01 | Africa
Sudan 'safe from US attack'
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
22 Mar 01 | Americas
'Bin Laden associate held in secret'
29 May 01 | Middle East
Timeline: Sudan
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