Bin Laden refused

By Mohamed OSman and Alfred de M THE Associated Press

KHARTOUM, Sudan – Sudan dismissed Osama bin Laden’s renewed calls for “jihad” in its troubled Darfur region, saying yesterday that it will not harbor terrorists or allow foreign interference in the country.

But outside experts said the chaos in Sudan – already spilling over to troubled neighbors like Chad – is exactly the kind of place al-Qaida has successfully exploited in the past and might again.

In a tape issuing more threats against the West on Sunday, bin Laden urged followers to go to Sudan to fight a proposed U.N. peacekeeping force for Darfur. Muslims must “get ready to conduct a long war against the crusader plunderers in western Sudan,” he said in the audiotape, broadcast on Arab TV.

The call made headlines in most of Sudan’s newspapers yesterday, but Khartoum’s leadership seemed eager to dissociate itself from bin Laden, who was based in the country through much of the 1990s but thrown out in 1996.

“We are not concerned with such statements, or any other statement that comes from foreign quarters about the crisis in Darfur,” Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Jamal Eldin Mohammad Ibrahim was quoted as saying by the Al Sahafa newspaper.

Sudan will cooperate with the international community to solve the ongoing humanitarian crisis “and we will not host any terrorist,” the spokesman said.