Sudan: Prominent Islamist hardliners escape Kober Prison

Former Presidential Assistant Nafi Ali Nafi (L), former Vice-President Ali Osman Taha (C). and former Minister of Defence Abdelrahim Hussein (R) (Photo: supplied)


Ahmed Harun, a former official in the ousted regime of Omar Al Bashir, reported yesterday that he has been able to leave Kober Prison in Khartoum North, together with a number of other Islamist hardliners, including Ali Osman Taha, Awad El Jaz, and Nafi Ali Nafi.

Harun (also written Haroun), who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, said in an audio statement broadcast by Tayba Satellite TV on Tuesday, that he and a number of other former officials are ready to appear before a judge.

He said that the inmates in Kober Prison in particular feared the bombardments, amid repeated power and water outages since April 15, when fierce fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted in the country.

The political advisor of the RSF accused Military Intelligence of being behind the release of “the symbols of the former regime” which was done, he said in a statement yesterday, in coordination with other Islamists.

“Removing the symbols of the former regime from prison is part of the army’s plan to return the Islamists to power,” he claimed.

The SAF has denied being behind the escape of the former officials who were very close to Omar Al Bashir during his 30-year dictatorship (1989-2019) and were detained following the 2018 Revolution.

The mainstream Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC-Central Council) reacted to the news by saying that the Islamist affiliates of the ousted Al Bashir regime aim “to restore the tyrannical junta to power through this war” and warning for more fighting.

The alliance described Harun’s statement as “evidence that members of the deposed regime are behind the current war”.

Press reports published on Saturday spoke of an RSF force launching an attack on Kober Prison on Tuesday, on the side where the leaders of the former regime are being held.

Al Bashir, indicted by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and several of his senior aides, including former Interior Minister Abdelrahim Hussein, also wanted by the ICC, were transferred from Kober Prison to a military hospital in Omdurman last week, allegedly based on medical recommendations.

Ahmed Harun, Ali Osman Taha, Awad El Jaz, and Nafi Ali Nafi, known as Islamist hardliners (referred to as kezan in Sudanese slang), have all served as ministers during the Al Bashir regime.

* Kezan, or kizan, is a pejorative nickname used by many Sudanese to refer to Islamist loyalists to the regime of Omar Al Bashir (1989-2019) and who enjoyed far-fetching privileges during his rule. The word is the plural of koz which means ‘wooden or iron mug’. The nickname is based on a description the Muslim Brotherhood called themselves, when the founder of the group, the Egyptian Hasan El Banna, said “Religion is a sea, and we are the mugs that draw from it”.