Washington DC — Ahmed Mohamed Harun, former Minister for Humanitarian Affairs under the Al Bashir regime, was designated under the War Crimes Rewards Program (WCRP) yesterday by the US Department of State. Harun is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur between 2003 and 2004.
The WCRP offers rewards of up to US$5 million for information that leads to the arrest or conviction in any country or international tribunal of designated foreign nationals accused of war crimes, genocide, or crimes against humanity.
Harun is accused of 20 counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, persecution, forcible transfer of population, rape, inhumane acts, imprisonment or severe deprivation of, and torture. He is also accused of 22 counts of war crimes including murder, attacks against the civilian population, destruction of property, rape, pillaging, and outrage upon personal dignity.
The US State Department also noted his participation in recruiting, mobilising, funding, and arming the Janjaweed militia, a precursor to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). “It is critical that Harun be found and that he appear before the ICC to face the charges against him,” said the statement, noting that “lasting peace in Sudan requires justice for victims and accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses and violations, both past and present.”
The statement drew similarities between the atrocities committed by the Janjaweed militia in Darfur between 2003 and 2004, and the violence in Darfur today. “We are seeing some of the same perpetrators victimising some of the same communities in ways that are an ominous reminder of the horror unleashed 20 years ago,” it said.
The US Department of State also welcomed the ICC Prosecutor’s announcement that he is investigating the ongoing violence. The statement urged “all states to cooperate with the ICC in its Darfur investigation.”
The ICC issued arrest warrants against Harun in 2007, along with former Darfur janjaweed leader, Ali Muhammad Ali Abdelrahman, known as ‘Ali Kushayb’. Kushayb was transferred to the ICC’s custody on June 9, 2020, after surrendering himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic.
Harun, and three other former Islamist leaders of the Al Bashir regime (1989-2019), have sought refuge in Kassala since they escaped from Kober Prison in Khartoum North end April. Kassala is considered one of the former regime’s centres of influence.
Following their escape, they called on all political parties to stand with the army. In July, Professor Siddig Tawir warned that Islamist hardliners “are using the army to pass their political agenda. They are seeking opportunities to return to power on the back of a tank”.
On September 28, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken commented that former Al Bashir regime officials are not only obstructing efforts to reach a ceasefire between the SAF and the RSF but are also “mobilising forces to enable continued fighting”.
At the time, the US imposed new sanctions on Ali Karti, head of the Islamic Movement in Sudan, and two companies affiliated with the RSF, one of which is based in Russia. The US State Department also imposed visa restrictions on Islamists and former regime officials because they “undermined the transition to democracy in Sudan”.