And surprisingly, for the United Nations, this isn’t a conference on how to microfinance terrorism for fun and profit. That will have to wait till next year.
This year it’s a meeting do deal with financing terrorism in a genocidal country whose leader is under ICC indictment and which is listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.
On Sunday, the leading experts on terrorism finance in the Middle East and North Africa will convene for a five-day conference. The Financial Action Task Force is essentially the United Nations for combating terror finance, and MENAFATF ranks among its most important regional bodies. So why is the group meeting, in all places, in Khartoum?
Sudan was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 by the Clinton administration for providing support to a wide range of terrorist organizations. Sudan remained on the list because it provided a safe haven to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in the early 1990s.
While Washington successfully pressured Khartoum to purge al Qaeda from the country after the September 11 attacks, Sudan remains on the terrorism list today because, among other things, it provides financial, military and material support to Palestinian terrorist groups such as the Iran-sponsored Popular Resistance Committees, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hamas.
All this might be confusing if not for the fact that most of MENAFATF’s members support and sponsor some kind of terrorism. That’s not too shocking from a regional body whose members include Saudi Arabia, Lebanon (currently run by a coalition dominated by a terrorist group), Qatar (currently funding half the Islamist terrorist groups in the region) and Syria.
But don’t worry. MENAFATF also includes such fine upstanding nations as the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, one of the few nations in the world to have widespread slavery, and Libya, where entire cities are run by groups allied to Al Qaeda.
What would we ever do without the United Nations?