Bombed Sudanese Plant Owner Files $50M Suit

ByABC News
July 27, 2000, 3:59 PM

W A S H I N G T O N, July 27 -- The owner of a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory bombed by the United States nearly two years ago for allegedly making chemical weapons filed a $50 million lawsuit today against the U.S. government.

U.S. lawyers for Salah Idris, owner of the El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Co. in Khartoum, argued in papers filed with the U.S. Claims Court that the plant made antibiotics, veterinary and other drugs and was bombed due to a terrible intelligence blunder by Washington.

The plant did not contain any facilities that could have been used to manufacture chemical weapons or any chemical components of chemical weapons, the court papers said.

President Clinton and senior officials said after the blast that the factory which was linked to Saudi exile and terrorism suspect Osama bin Laden was being used to make chemical weapons.

U.S. Stands by Bombing Decision

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker, when asked to comment on the suit, said the United States stood by its original decision on Aug. 20, 1998, to bomb the factory.

We have reliable information, this is nothing new, that Osama bin Laden was seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction for use against American targets, Reeker said.

Nearly two years since this attack, the evidence about the purpose of this chemical plant remains persuasive.

U.S. missiles hit the factory just two weeks after two bomb attacks at U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 211 people and injured more than 5,000. Bin Laden is wanted in connection with those blasts.

The lawsuit said there was overwhelming evidence that the factory was a commercial, pharmaceutical processing plant.

The aim of this lawsuit is two-fold. We want the plant rebuilt so that it can go into operation and we also want to clear Mr. Idris name, said Stephen Brogan, the lead lawyer in the case.

Idris, who lives in London but has Saudi and Sudanese citizenship, said in a statement he had always opposed the use of terror as a political action.