This post contains graphic descriptions of violence, including torture. Reader discretion is advised.
Sudanese politician Hassan Abdallah al-Turabi has spent his life trying to take Sudan back to the 7th century… not that Sudan’s really come very far since that era. A strict Islamist, al-Turabi has spent plenty of time behind bars when the political winds shifted unfavorably. Though al-Turabi’s stated stances are fairly progressive when it comes to sharia, when he was in power, the outcome was anything but.
Among the punishments implemented while al-Turabi served as Minister of Justice were amputation and hanging. Though al-Turabi said he opposed the death penalty for apostasy, the regime he served wasn’t so lenient. During al-Turabi’s tenure as Attorney General, a man was executed for apostasy without any resistance from al-Turabi. After the regime was ousted in a coup, another coup happened a few years later resulting in the rise of Islamist Omar al-Bashir, the man behind the genocide in Darfur. al-Turabi supported al-Bashir’s coup. Once al-Bashir came into power, he purged hundreds of intellectuals and high-ranking military personnel. al-Turabi was safe because he doesn’t fall into either of those categories.
al-Turabi continued serving under al-Bashir, working to gradually Islamize Sudan’s laws. And what could be more Islamic than torture? According to a human rights report, “Non-Muslim women were raped, their children taken from them; paper bags filled with chili powder were placed over men’s heads, and some were tied to anthills; testicles were crushed and burned by cigarettes and electrical current.”
Though he wasn’t personally involved in the torture, al-Turabi was aware of it. Instead of making people suffer, he spent his time trying to encourage jihad. He founded the Popular Arab and Islamic Conference, an annual meeting of numerous jihadist groups including Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The goal of the Conference was to unite Sunnis and Shiites against common enemies – the kuffar, particularly Israel and the US. In 1992, jihadists had agreed to lend their material support for jihad attacks against the US. Shortly thereafter, many Conference members traveled to Iran to learn how to blow stuff up.
After getting elected to another political office and subsequently being put in jail because other politicians didn’t agree with him, al-Turabi did what tons of other Muslims do – he joined an Islamist group. After the group attacked the capitol, Khartoum, al-Turabi was arrested. However, without sufficient proof of his involvement, he was released.