The money behind Sudan’s most powerful militia
In April 2019, Sudan’s social and political upheaval resulted in the removal of President Omar al-Bashir after nearly 30 years in power. Sudan has now entered a new period, where civilians share power with the Sudanese military in the ruling Sovereignty Council.
A militia named the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is the most powerful paramilitary force in Sudan. At the head of the RSF – and vice chair of the Sovereignty Council – stands a man named Mohammed ‘Hemedti’ Hamdan Daglo.
Hemedti first rose to prominence in 2003 as one of the leaders of the Janjaweed, a paramilitary force deployed in Darfur which killed scores of civilians.
More recently, numerous witnesses accuse Hemedti’s RSF and Sudanese police of massacring pro-democracy demonstrators at a sit-in in Khartoum on June 3rd, 2019, with human rights groups reporting over 100 people killed. These killings fit a pattern of human rights abuses committed by the RSF and their predecessors, the Janjaweed, in Sudan’s western region of Darfur (see more below). Hemedti has denied the RSF was involved.
Now, an apparently genuine cache of leaked documents obtained by Global Witness show the financial networks behind Hemedti and the RSF. Not only have they captured a large part of the country’s gold industry through a linked company, but the leaked bank data and corporate documents show their use of front companies and banks based in Sudan and the UAE.
Some of the bank and corporate documents were originally published by satirical Sudanese online channel Al Bashoum, while others were obtained by Global Witness in the course of our investigation.
Global Witness has verified the documents using interviews, corporate records, and open source investigative methods including analysis of website infrastructure information.We have concluded that the leaked documents are, in our opinion, likely to be genuine. In part 2 of this investigation we will publish more information about how we reached that conclusion.
A leaked RSF spreadsheet also published by Al Bashoum reveals how they bought a fleet of almost one thousand Toyota pick-up trucks – easily converted into highly mobile ‘technicals’ with mounted machine guns – which have been used by the militia to suppress popular uprisings around the country for over a decade.
Video footage taken a few hours before the 3rd June massacre show large numbers of police and RSF militiamen arriving in Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux vehicles. While we cannot be certain that the vehicles uncovered in this new evidence were the same ones used by the RSF and police on 3rd June, Global Witness has found dozens of videos on social media of similar vehicles – including from earlier shipments – being used to suppress demonstrations, beat and arrest protestors and to indiscriminately shoot in civilian areas.
This briefing provides a rare glimpse into the finances of the RSF, an organisation whose military power and financial independence poses a threat to a peaceful democratic transition in Sudan.
read more at: globalwitness.org
photo: globalwitness.org, GETTY IMAGES