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Sudan's former spymaster sanctioned by US for alleged torture

Salah Gosh was once viewed by Gulf monarchies as a worthy successor to ousted president Omar al-Bashir
Sudan's former spymaster and his family are banned from travelling to the US (AFP)

A former Sudanese spymaster once touted as a possible successor to deposed president Omar al-Bashir has been sanctioned by US authorities for alleged involvement in torture.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced the designation of former intelligence chief Salah Gosh, barring him and his family from travelling to the United States.

"Today, the United States designated Salah Abdalla Mohamed Mohamed Salih, known as Salah Gosh, the former director general of Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services ... due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights," Pompeo said.

"Specifically, the department has credible information that Salah Gosh was involved in torture during his tenure."

A senior Sudanese military source told Middle East Eye earlier this year that Gosh, 63, met with the head of Israel's Mossad at the Munich Security conference in February as part of a plan, spearheaded by powerful Gulf monarchies, to elevate him to the presidency once Bashir was ousted from power.

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The source said Gosh met Mossad chief Yossi Cohen in a meeting arranged by Egyptian intermediaries with the backing of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the source told MEE.

"Gosh has strong links with the Saudis, the Emiratis and the Egyptians. They want Bashir out, and they want their man in his place," the source said.

Instead, facing public pressure, Gosh was forced to resign his position after a military coup forced Bashir from office in April.

This brought an abrupt end to a career spanning four decades in Sudan’s intelligence services in which he would become a powerful player alongside former Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in a regional intelligence network. But allegations of torture have dogged him along the way.

Rights group Amnesty International urged the military council to examine the actions of Gosh during a deadly crackdown against protesters during the final weeks of Bashir's rule.

"It is crucial that Sudan's new authorities investigate Salah Gosh's role in the killings of scores of Sudanese protesters over the past four months," Amnesty's regional director Sarah Jackson said in April.

The designation comes as the US continues to pressure Sudan into seeking a civilian-led transfer of power.

"I join the Sudanese people in their call for a transitional government that is truly civilian-led and fundamentally different than the Bashir regime, especially as it relates to its human rights record and abuses implemented by Gosh and other officials," Pompeo tweeted.