Foreigners in Sudan may be targets if ICC lays charges: media
KHARTOUM (AFP) — The head of Sudan's powerful intelligence agency has warned that foreigners could be targeted by radicals if the world court indicts President Omar al-Beshir, state media reported on Sunday.
Spymaster Salah Gosh, who heads the National Security and Intelligence Service, was widely quoted as telling senior Sudanese journalists that reactions would be difficult to predict to any such indictment.
Judges at the International Criminal Court may decide as early as this month whether to issue an arrest warrant for Beshir, accused by the court's chief prosecutor of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
"The reactions of unruly persons cannot be predicted who may target some foreigners," Gosh was quoted as saying by Sudan's state news agency, SUNA.
Gosh denied any presence in Sudan of international terror network Al Qaeda, whose mastermind Osama bin Laden was accorded shelter in Khartoum in the 1990s after being ejected from Saudi Arabia, but conceded there are some extremists.
"Al Qaeda is not an organization but ideas, and ideas cannot be treated with guns and measures," he was quoted as saying by SUNA.
"He (Gosh) could not predict what kind of reaction outlaws could undertake if the ICC issues a resolution. He suspects they may possibly target some aliens," wrote the Sudan Media Centre, considered close to the spy agency.
"(Gosh) denies the existence of Al Qaeda elements in Sudan. However, he said there are some extremists," it said.
The independent English-language Sudan Tribune website translated Gosh's Arabic words more specifically as saying that "Westerners" could be targeted by "radical groups."
Sudan has conducted a so far futile diplomatic campaign to convince the three Western permanent members of the UN Security Council, Britain, France and the United States, to stall any legal proceedings against Beshir.
Gosh described the ICC as an instrument of pressure to weaken the Sudanese government and branded its chief prosecutor a "political activist".
US diplomats warned last week that Sudanese protesters demonstrating against Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip called for attacks on Westerners.
The security chief was quoted as vowing that the security service would work to "secure the country against any violations".
Sudan does not recognise the ICC and has refused all cooperation with the body, whose judges in 2007 indicted a militia chief and a now cabinet minister over alleged atrocities committed in Sudan's Darfur region in 2003 and 2004.