Sudan - Hassan al Turabi interview

Bin Laden burial at sea offensive, Sudanese Islamist Turabi says

AFP/Khaled Desouki

Sudanese opposition leader, Hassan al-Turabi, has slammed the US military for burying Osama bin Laden at sea and compared the al Qaeda leader to Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara. Turabi was freed from jail on the day of the raid in which bin Laden was killed.


“It angered many Muslims the way he was dropped in the sea just like that,” Turabi told RFI. “You know these funerals, these rituals of death are very important.”

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

Around 1,000 people gathered this week in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, to mark bin Laden’s death.

Turabi condemns the raid on a compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad and says bin Laden was killed in “an ugly manner”.

“Why should he be killed?” he asks. “They said he was not armed. And they were of course six, they could have taken him anywhere they like and put him into the due process of law. That was very ugly.”

Dossier: Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

Turabi, who leads the Islamist Popular Congress Party but also has supporters in the ruling National Congress Party, helped bin Laden settle in Khartoum in the early 1990s and then to resettle in Pakistan in 1996.

He remembers a “really quiet fellow, really quiet and gentle” but believes that bin Laden’s tactics were “counterproductive”.

They “cast a very bad image of Islam generally and then he provoked a lot of anger against Islam,” he says.

Al Qaeda’s opposition to Western policies on the Palestinian question, Iraq and Afghanistan has ”inspired actually many people in France, in England”, Turabi says. Supporters “were just inspired by the [bin Laden] myth like Che Guevara”.

But, he says, the uprisings in the Middle East and north Africa have nothing to do with the Islamist network.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

Turabi, who was a minister in President Omar el-Beshir’s government for 10 years, was arrested in January shortly after warning of a Tunisia-style uprising. After his release he again called for a revolution against corruption.

The Arab spring will probably lead to “a new Islamic wave”, he declares. “But it is more moderate, it’s more considerate, more constructive rather than destructive. It is not anti-Western just like that.”

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning

Keep up to date with international news by downloading the RFI app