Sudan as an incubator of terrorism
Sudan was the incubator of the modern Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was formed by Osama bin Laden with the help of the US CIA as a vehicle for fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. After the collapse of the Soviets, the US withdrew funding. Bin Laden returned briefly to Saudi Arabia, and then moved his base of operations to Sudan, an authoritarian Islamic state "off the map" of the great powers. From 1991 to 1994 Bin Laden lived in Sudan and used this location to accomplish two things. He built Al Qaeda into a systematic recruiting, training, and action organization to carry out terrorist attacks on behalf of radical Islam, and he established a variety of businesses that provide continued financing to the network. Then in the late 1990s he began seeding his network into other parts of the world, extending from Sudan first into Somalia and other nations, establishing a major base in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and spreading cells into the United States and other target nations.
Sudan was thus the center from which the modern version of Al Qaeda radiated. It is almost certain that Osama bin Laden's businesses and other organizations are still operating in Sudan, providing financial and other services for the worldwide network. Sudan has become a kind of low-tech Swiss-banking center for criminal organizations, including Al Qaeda. For example, in September of 2002 The Washington Post reported that large quantities of gold had been transfered from Pakistan to Sudan by Al Qaeda.
Sudan: Closed society, weapons, oil, banking, terrorism and human rights abuse
Sudan is a closed society, censoring inbound and outbound communication, restricting movement and speech, and oppressing opponents of the government. This closed state makes it possible for Sudan both to harbor terrorists and their support services, and to abuse its people to the extent of carrying out a genocide that will very probably kill a million people.
It is difficult to pressure Sudan to open up. Sudan is protected by other nations that benefit economically from it. Sudan is fueled by oil riches, armed by Russia (which for example just sold a new shipment of MIG jets to Sudan), funded by China (who has established its Africa-wide oil services operation in Sudan), and linked to the world banking underground by way of Pakistan. Here is a link to a summary of the whole system.
Currently the United States is attempting to pass a UN Security Council resolution on Sudan that would pave the way for helping save more than a million potential victims of the genocide in Darfur. Blocking the resolution and protecting Sudan are Russia, China, and Pakistan.
So far the US government has not made much of this closed society/weapons/oil/banking connnection. Perhaps in part this is because the US maintains its own similar relationship with Saudi Arabia--another authoritarian state that is a breeding ground for terrorists including the 9/11 perpetrators.
I conclude that if the United States and other nations hope to be safe from terrorism, they must close down the terrorism incubators. These are authoritarian states that either tolerate terrorist bases, such as Sudan and the Taliban-era Afghanistan, or whose repressive poliicies combined with lax oversight of banks and other sources of assistance encourages terrorist organizations to form, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In either case the international community needs to accomplish two objectives: Stop the terrorists themselves, and open up these societies so that the world is aware of what is breeding within them. And this, in turn, will force us to address the tragic relationship of closed society, weapons, oil, banking, terrorism and human rights abuse.