The Supreme Court of the United States grants a victory to the victims of the 1998 attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. These attacks by Al Qaeda against the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania left 224 people dead. Since 2001, nearly 600 people have demanded that Sudan pay damages because at the time Khartoum had harbored members of the Islamist movement as well as Osama Bin Laden. The case had gone as far as the Supreme Court, which had confirmed that Khartoum should pay.
Almost 20 years after the attacks, the victims are now certain to receive compensation. The whole debate revolved around an American law of 2008, which regulates the payment of damages, particularly from a foreign country.
In 2017, a United States appeals court ruled that the Sudan did not have to compensate the victims because the attacks had taken place before the vote on the text. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the law was retroactive, and did apply to the 1998 attacks. The case will therefore go back to court to determine an amount.
The challenge in this case is enormous, as the United States refuses to remove Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism until such compensation is paid. However, because it is on that list, Khartoum is cut off from part of the international financial system, which aggravates its already delicate economic situation.
Another issue is the amount of damages, which could reach several billion dollars. The Sudanese Ministry of Justice told that it would “work to normalize relations with the United States in order to free the Sudanese from one of the heaviest legacies of the former regime”.