The conference was set up by Sudan's Hassan al-Turabi as part of his attempt to unite various constituencies from throughout the Islamic world into an anti-American, anti-Western front. The conference, as well as Turabi's Sudan in general, was a breeding ground for all sorts of relationships that we have been told couldn't exist. For example, the Iranian-controlled Hezbollah forged a lasting relationship with the Sunni al Qaeda in Turabi's Sudan. Both were represented at the conference Mr. Islam allegedly attended. The results of this terrorist cross-breeding were devastating. Hezbollah's chief terrorist, Imad Mugniyah, even taught al Qaeda's suicide bombers how to build sophisticated truck bombs. Some of the terrorists who received that training went on to destroy the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 - it was al Qaeda's most successful attack prior to September 11, 2001.
The PAIC made room for an odd collection of anti-American forces. In addition to Mr. Islam, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda, all of the following terrorist sponsors or terrorist groups were reportedly represented: the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Saddam's Baathists, Syria's Baathists, George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and various other terrorist groups with al Qaeda affiliations from Yemen, Pakistan, Algeria, and Syria. The list goes on and on.
These meetings certainly must have presented an interesting spectacle, to say the least. Someone should ask Mr. Islam for his recollections of the event. He should also be asked if he agrees with Turabi's view: “America incarnates the devil for Muslims. When I say Muslims, I mean all the Muslims in the world.” And, if he doesn't agree with that sentiment, then why did he attend a conference organized with that theme?
That question stands to this day.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.