WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Clinton administration will not challenge a lawsuit filed by a Saudi businessman, and has agreed to release $24 million in assets that the businessman, Mr. Saleh Idris, had deposited in U.S. banks.
On August 20 last year the U.S. launched cruise missiles at Mr. Idris' pharmaceuticals plant in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and a camp in Afghanistan after bombs exploded at U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The U.S. alleged that both targets had links to the man they blamed for the Kenya and Tanzania bombs, Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, and that the Al Shifa plant in Khartoum manufactured chemical weapons.
The Al Shifa pharmaceuticals plant made both medicine and veterinary drugs, according to U.S. and European engineers and consultants who helped build, design and supply the plant.
The strikes came on the day that Monica Lewinsky gave evidence on her affair with President Bill Clinton, and bore a much noted resemblance to the movie "Wag The Dog," in which a U.S. president diverts attention by starting a war.
Mr Idris was represented by John Scanlon of the Washington law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld, the same firm which employs Vernon Jordan, who gave evidence in defence of Mr Clinton in the Senate impeachment trial.
Mr. Idris had retained Kroll Associates, the world's leading firm of private investigators, to examine the evidence. Many of Kroll's
employees are former intelligence and law enforcement officials of the British
and American government, and it has also been hired by several governments,
including the U.S. reports The Independent.
A legal case could have had major implications for Mr Clinton and for U.S. foreign policy. Facing a deadline to respond to the suit filed Feb. 26, the Clinton administration chose not to contest it.
The Al Shifa plant had raised Sudan's self-sufficiency in medicine from 3 percent to over 50 percent and produced enough veterinary medicine for all of Africa.
Sudan has not been compensated for the deaths, lost jobs, and other financial losses resulting from lost production at the Al Shifa plant.
["Because of a cupful of soil, the U.S. flattened this Sudanese factory. Now one of the world's most respected labs, and some of Washington's most expensive lawyers, say Salah Idris wasn't making nerve gas for terrorists, just ibuprofen for headaches." -- Vernon Loeb, "A Dirty Business," Washington Post, July 25, 1999, p. F01]
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