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Leaders of local Arab militias are responsible for many atrocities in Darfur and have close ties to the Sudanese government. War criminals, like Ali Kushayb, are responsible for brutal rapes, tortures and murders in Darfur.

Ali Kushayb is one of the leaders in the Wadi Salih in West Darfur. About 50 years old, he is referred to as “Aquid al Oqada,” (“colonel of colonels”) as well as Emir of Mujahideen (“leader of religious fighters”). Not only does Kushayb command thousands of Janjaweed militia men in the southwestern part of West Darfur, but he holds an officer's rank in the Sudanese military.

Kushayb's leadership shows how leaders of the Janjaweed work with the Sudanese government to carry out genocide in Darfur through murder, rape and torture.

Militia and Government Cooperation

Kushayb met frequently with government minister Ahmad Harun (Darfur Security Desk Minister). The two men met in the town of Mukluk in August 2003 and Harun provided Kushayb with weapons and money for the militia. Whatever Harun expected of Kushayb, he clearly believed that it required government backing.

At this meeting, Harun delivered a speech intended to inflame racial hatreds. In his words, “Since the children of the Fur have become rebels, all the Fur and what they had, had become booty for the Mujahideen.”

Harun acknowledged that the Janjaweed were somewhat undisciplined, but he said that they should attack with the military and that “they were ready to kill ¾ of Darfur in order to allow ¼ to live.”

Kushayb took Harun at his word, and in the attack on Bendesi, Kushayb lead the Janjaweed militia wearing a military uniform.

Racism, Rape and Torture

As with other attacks, the attacks lead by Kushayb were suffused with racial epithets. On the attack on Bendesi, attackers shouted “Nuba, Nuba” and said that they were sent to “kill every black thing.”

One eyewitness estimated that 150 people were killed, including 30 children, within 90 minutes.


As with other attacks, Kushayb's attack on Bendesi used rape as a way to terrorize and degrade women, not because they were rebels, but because of their race. According to an eyewitness:

While carrying out the rapes, the attackers were saying, “We have taken Tora Bora’s wives, praise be to God.” At least one of the women who was raped bled in the course of the assault. When this happened the rapists shot their weapons in the air and announced, “I have found a virgin woman.”

Kushayb was not simply a bystander to the rapes. In another attack there is also evidence that Kushayb participated in the rapes.


Within a day or so of the attack on Bendesi, Kushayb lead his forces to nearby Mukjar. In a legal brief to the ICC, the prosecutor describes the experience of one witness:

The witness … knew about a mass detention at the new police station…. He had been arrested by members of the Armed Forces and Militia/Janjaweed … shortly after his arrival in Mukjar, and he was being held by members of the Armed Forces in a room with about sixty other men. All of these men were restrained in different ways. Some of them … had been tied and suspended in the air.… His arms were held wide apart and tied to a plank of wood on the ceiling, while his legs were also held wide apart and tied to objects on either side … a stove was left burning between his legs…. All the men had whip marks on their bodies and their clothes were torn and blood-stained… He had been repeatedly beaten, called “Tora Bora” and deprived of food…. Two other men … had been badly beaten and their fingernails and toenails had been forcibly removed.

Bottom Line

Eye-witness testimony of refugees who survived the genocide in Darfur provide a damning picture of Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb. With government backing, Kushayb used racism to motivate the rape, torture and murder of the people of Darfur.

Data and Methods:


Hagan draws from two data sources:

  1. Survey data gathered by the Atrocity Documentation Team commissioned by the U.S. State Department in 2004 from Darfurian refugees in ten camps and nine settlements in eastern Chad from July through August 2004. Researchers gathered information from 1,136 randomly selected refugees using a semi-structured interview protocol.
  2. A survey based on news and NGO reports of deaths in attacks on 101 villages. Andreas Höfer Petersen and Lise-Lotte Tullin, The Scorched Earth of Darfur: Patterns in Death and Destruction Reported by the People of Darfur, January 2001-September 2005, (Copenhagen, Bloodhound).

Funding Source:

? unknown--ask Katie to track down

Full Text Availability:
Text not yet available

Hagan, John. Forthcoming. "The Rolling Genocide." Chapter 6 in [name of book].

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