Congress to pass Sudan legislation preserving 9/11 terrorism claims


The House and Senate are expected to approve legislation restoring Sudan’s sovereign immunity as part of its removal from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

The “Sudan Claims Resolution Act” is included in a massive end-of-year spending bill. It caps more than a year of fraught negotiations between the White House, State Department and Congress over finding a solution to support Sudan’s revolutionary democratic government, while preserving rights for victims of terrorism, including victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Lawmakers came to an agreement to preserve legal avenues for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks to continue to pursue lawsuits against Sudan in the U.S. for Khartoum’s alleged role.

The legislation will also allow for the release of $350 million to American victims of the 1998 twin embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that Sudan agreed to pay as part of settling legal claims over Khartoum’s role in those terrorist attacks.

Lawmakers additionally included a provision to provide $150 million to African victims of the embassy bombings, who later became U.S. citizens, to settle their outstanding claims against Sudan. That sum is expected to be taken from the State Department’s emergency funding “and other matters,” according to text of the legislation.  

The bill is also likely to ensure that Sudan moves forward with opening relations with Israel that were brokered by the U.S. under the banner of the Abraham Accords. Signed in September, the Accords established diplomatic ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. 

The passage of the Sudan Claims Resolution Act reflects bipartisan support for Sudan’s fragile democratic government, which came into power in April 2019 after a grassroots revolution overthrew the 30-year dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir.

The rescission of Sudan’s terrorism designation was the first step in trying to help the country step back from the brink of economic collapse, a situation that has worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic, devastating natural disasters and a flood of Ethiopian refugees escaping fighting in that country.

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