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Cablegate: New Jem Videos Intended to Document Its Strength After

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DE RUEHKH #1771/01 3461557
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O 111557Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2513
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
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UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001771

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, AF/C
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PROP MCAP ASEC KPKO AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: NEW JEM VIDEOS INTENDED TO DOCUMENT ITS STRENGTH AFTER
OMDURMAN ATTACK AND THREATEN NEW ACTION

1. (U) SUMMARY: The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) recently
released three videos documenting a parade of several hundred armed
men riding in more than 80 military vehicles. Although the date of
the footage cannot be authoritatively determined, the speeches and
audio on the tape reference the first JEM attack on Omdurman and the
ICC indictment against Bashir, indicating that the films were shot
after the May 10 attack and the July 14 request for an ICC
indictment against President Bashir. In addition to displaying
JEM's renewed strength following the Omdurman attack, there are
multiple references throughout the videos to future attacks on
Khartoum, the need for regime change, and JEM's alleged superiority
to other rebel movements. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Within the last two weeks, JEM's website (www.sudanjem.com)
published links to three of its new videos posted on Google video.
(Note: In August 2008, Sudan temporarily blocked access to the
popular video sharing site youtube.com. On November 30, a selection
of the videos also was posted on YouTube by one user. According to
this YouTube member, the videos were filmed in late July, 2008. On
December 11, JEM's website was not operational. End Note.) The
three videos are entitled "Long Arm," a reference to JEM's code name
for the May 10 attack on Omdurman.

3. (U) The video begins with a hyper-dramatized overture (oddly
reminiscent of the music from the Matrix movie) and a series of
special effects. The title "Justice and Equality Movement - Long
Arm 2008" then appears on the screen first in English and then in
Arabic. The video then cuts to a mixture of footage of JEM leaders
and military equipment.

"THIS IS HOW WE ATTACKED THEM"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. (U) The video focuses primarily on a military parade with
approximately twenty men marching in unison in the desert. This is
followed by footage of JEM vehicles driving through an urban area
(ostensibly the outskirts of Omdurman in May 2008) with a crowd
spontaneously cheering them on with screams of "God is Great"
("Allahu Akbar"). The video then returns to the parade in the
desert, and shows a sequence of six different JEM units, each with
10-20 vehicles. Most of the vehicles appear to be modified Land
Cruiser "technicals," one-quarter of which are mounted with
anti-aircraft or heavy machine guns. The announcer (amplified by a
public address system) declares that "the groups that are before you
are a quick reaction force that will attack the cities. They are an
example of the soldiers that entered Omdurman. As you see them,
this is how we attacked." (Note: The announcer's words do not
appear to be a later dubbing, as his microphone picks up the
peripheral sounds of honking, screaming men, etc. End Note). The
announcer then praises the fighters saying "You are our heroes - you
have become accustomed to these difficult circumstances."

NUMBERS OF MEN AND VEHICLES USED IN ATTACK
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (U) Following the announcer's initial remarks, a military
commander presents himself to JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim and provides
a summary of the number of men and vehicles used in the three fronts
of the JEM attack on Omdurman. (Note: The commander does not use a
microphone and the audio is not clear. The commander initially
appears to say that JEM employed over 500 vehicles in the attack,
but then lists the three fronts as having 50, 202, and 44 vehicles.
End Note).

PRAISING JEM'S "HEROES" AND FOCUS ON WEAPONRY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. (U) Following the commander's presentation, the announcer then
returns to the parade. As the camera slowly pans across the "second
unit" of fighters, the announcer comments, "These are the heroes
that entered Khartoum in the daylight. These are the people that
have written history in the famous fight in Omdurman. They are
ready to change the government. They have fought for seven years in
the fight. They showed to the world that there is no government."
The announcer then comments on the fighters' weaponry including:
SPG-9 (a Russian tripod-mounted man-portable, 73 millimetre calibre
recoilless anti-aircraft gun,) a "doyshka," "garnov" and other
weapons. Pointing to one anti-aircraft gun, the announcer comments
"this is what downed the government's airplane."

"THIS IS ONLY A SMALL EXAMPLE OF OUR FORCE"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. (U) For approximately the next 20 minutes, the other two
videos provide ongoing footage of four additional military units.
The announcer repeatedly states before the arrival of each unit,
"This is only a select example of each unit and does not represent
the whole unit." The announcer leads the units in cheers, saying
that each unit has its own intelligence, air defense, and

transportation divisions. At one point the announcer comments,
"these men will help deliver Bashir to the International Criminal
Court." Later in the film, the announcer then nonchalantly
comments, "We will enter Khartoum a second time. Where are you,
Bashir?"

MOCKING OTHER MOVEMENTS AND PROMISING TO RETURN TO KHARTOUM
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8. (U) The announcer then chastises other rebel movements (and
perhaps the SPLM) by questioning, "Where are the other movements
that claim they are fighting for the marginalized of Sudan? Where
are they?" He then adds, "JEM is the only group that has a presence
in the field. JEM is also the only group that has a real political
program." The announcer also leads the soldiers in rhyming cheers
in Arabic throughout the movies including "Go forth, go forth -
Khalil. We are your troops for change!" or "All our force, [will be]
inside Khartoum!"

ASSEMBLY OF FORCE AND FOCUS ON ETHNIC DIVERSITY OF JEM
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9. (U) At the conclusion of the parade the camera pans across the
field of vehicles appearing to be more than 80 in number with
several hundred men. Khalil Ibrahim, escorted by bodyguards, then
walks in front of his men and a separate group of women. Ibrahim
returns to his shaded VIP area and one commander delivers a speech
focusing on the ethnic and geographic diversity within JEM (in order
to dispel the view that much of JEM's strength is Zaghawa-based).
"These fighters represent all of Sudan: The Nuba Mountains, the
Hadra region, Abyei, the North, and from all three Darfur states,"
says the commander. Continuing, he names over twenty tribes that
have members in JEM. Another commander follows by addressing
addressing Ibrahim: "We do not come from a single tribe. Your
troops are disciplined, organized, and cultured. They are
engineers, lawyers, and the elite." The video ends with another
mixture of footage from Omdurman and its residents greeting JEM,
images of JEM leadership, and the final credits attributed to "A JEM
media presentation."

OTHER VIDEOS
- - - - - - -
10. (U) Other videos also have been added to JEM's website in the
last month. In one video from JEM's "First Conference on IDPs and
Refugees" in July 2008, Khalil Ibrahim reflects on the May 10
attack, saying, "Our goals and yours are one. We have taken your
input. We did not hurt any innocent civilians [in the attack.] The
government knew we were coming and wasn't able to do anything about
it. We have learned many things from this attack. We entered
Khartoum and fought around Mogran point, around the U.S. Embassy,
and close to the presidential palace. God-willing the next trip
will be the final one for us." (Note: In fact, fighting did not
reach the U.S. Embassy or the presidential palace in Khartoum as the
rebels did not quite make across the Nile bridges. End Note.) JEM
Commander Suliman Sandal (at the same event in a video uploaded to
YouTube on October 30, 2008) notes "Our troops are organized. We
have decided to take control of this country and to get rid of
Bashir. It is time for the young people from the IDP camps to join
the movements. We will certainly enter Khartoum another time."

COMMENT:
- - - - -
11. (SBU) JEM is far ahead of other rebel movements in terms of
its relatively sophisticated use of the media, Internet, and overall
public communication strategy. These videos set JEM even farther
ahead, incorporating sophisticated editing and special effects,
dramatic music, and footage from several different events and time
periods. It is notable that the Government of Sudan has also
entered this online propaganda war. In one video on YouTube a
likely Government source (as some of the footage would have only
been available to a government official) posted a video showing "The
crimes of the Justice and Equality Movement in Omdurman with
evidence of the Chadian support." The video incorporates photos of
"evidence" collected from the Omdurman attack and claims that JEM
destroyed private property, historical buildings, mosques and
wounded innocent civilians. Although the medium of video gives
added credibility to these dubious sources, these videos clearly
manipulate images and distort facts.

12. (SBU) Comment continued: There is a wealth of information in
the lengthy videos that may disprove GoS claims of a significantly
weakened JEM. If in fact the videos were taken after May 10, the
fleet of vehicles, hundreds of men, and JEM's audacity in showing
its assets, demonstrate that JEM still remains a powerful force.
(Note: JEM however could remove the detailed videos from its
website given that they provide a wealth of information about JEM's
operational capacity but it is more likely that they seek to portray

themselves as stronger than they actually are. End Note.)

13. (U) Comment continued: The timing of these videos' release is
noteworthy. Although it could take weeks to get footage from the
field to the cities, and several more weeks for editing, this alone
does not explain the lag in their release. The release date of
these videos corresponds with rumored JEM activity in South Kordofan
during Eid al-Adha, possible negotiations between rebel groups and
the government in Qatar, and the possibility of an ICC indictment
against Bashir in the coming month. The videos' motivational
nature, show of military hardware, and criticism of other rebel
movements are intended to project JEM's military strength and
political goals within the context of all of the above.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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