By Muawad Mustafa Rashid
Armed conflict in some neighbouring countries and domestic tribal fighting has led to the phenomenon of illegal arms trade and smuggling, a phenomenon which constitutes a real threat to national security and an incentive for foreign aggression.
The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) take the issue very seriously in order to minimize and eventually fully eradicate it.
Since July 2012, NISS formed special committees to monitor and track down arms trade and transportation from conflict areas to Kassala, where the arms dealers, smugglers, and financiers are centered.
In coordination with the Ministry of Justice, the ministry set up a centralized legal committee to investigate the reports of arms trade and transportation and to set-up centralized trials for these offenses in Khartoum through the judiciary.
A security conference was held in eastern Sudan in the same year, attended by central security leaders, as well as those from the three states of eastern Sudan, to combat arms trade and transportation. It agreed to widen the scope to include Kordofan and Darfur states.
These measures had a remarkable effect in combating arms trade and smuggling due to deterrent punishments, which were publicised and security efforts in the capital and different states.
In addition to combating operations, efforts are made to dry up the financing of trade and smuggling operations which focus on intermediaries, transporters, and bank transfer links.
The security measures used to combat arms and trade and smuggling operations varied according to the variety of ways used in smuggling. Different combating operations were conducted on highways, desert areas and Nile islets and isles using 4-wheel drive vehicles, speed boats and aircraft.
Reliant on its intelligence gathering, NISS has recently been able to bring about breakthroughs in intervening weapons assembly, gathering and sale centres in North Darfur and greater Kordofan. The results of these efforts are represented in the capturing of the most dangerous weapons traders and smugglers who are currently serving time in jail.
All the evidence and circumstances indicate that arms trade and smuggling are not intended for political or military gains, but rather for quick material gain.
The operations conducted to combat arms trade and smuggling are not limited to tracking, apprehending and trying the culprits, but also extend to tracking and blocking the financial movements of funds gained from this illegal trade through banks and exchange bureaus in order to carry on such trade.
The government exerts massive efforts through its security and justice agencies to combat the arms trade and smuggling in all parts of Sudan employing excessive will and determination to apprehend culprits and suspects under legal supervision and to file criminal cases against them in the justice system which in turn allows these defendants to stand trial with full rights and avails them the opportunity to go through all the phases of the justice system which, if found guilty, are met with decisive and deterrent sentences.
The Counter-Terrorism Court in Khartoum had, in the past period, handed down deterrent sentences against those found guilty of illegal arms trade and smuggling. The decision of the justice minister to form a special committee to handle and track illegal arms trade and smuggling contribute largely to confining and minimizing the phenomenon in coordination with the different security agencies where a number of cases were filed against arms traders and smugglers. These cases resulted in deterrent sentences against those convicted of illegal arms trade and smuggling.