Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Since Sudan came off the U.S. blacklist for terrorism last week, lawmakers have reinstated Sudan's legal immunity except for cases involving the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
U.S. lawmakers passed the legislation Monday to restore Sudan's sovereign immunity with an exemption to allow ongoing lawsuits filed by families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to go forward, Al Jazeera reported.
The move follows the Unites States officially removing Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism designation last week and a $335 million settlement with the victims of al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.
The momentum to remove Sudan from the terrorism list, which it had been on since 1993 when al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden lived there, picked up last year after uprising of ousted longtime President Omar al-Basir, who is accused of crimes against humanity.
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok hailed the removal of the designation last week since it opens up the opportunity for the government to receive international debt relief and financing. The restoration of sovereign immunity opens up the opportunity for foreign businesses to also invest in Sudan amid the country's financial turmoil, according to the Qatari state-owned news channel.
"Sudan is finally open for business," Jalelah Sophia Ahmed, a Sudanese-American and co-chair of the Sudan Policy Network and lobbying group, told Al Jazeera. "With the sanctions that were in place and the SST designation, companies could be held liable for doing business with Sudan. With legal peace granted, we will see business come to Sudan and invest in Sudan. That would create employment, reduce inflation."
Relatives of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks praised the agreement allowing their lawsuits to go forward despite opposition from the Trump administration and the Sudanese government, The New York Times reported. Sudan's leaders had demanded the sovereign immunity as part of its larger deal to normalize relations with Israel, which President Donald Trump announced in October.
"The White House has been working all year to trade away our rights, in an apparent effort to secure an unrelated diplomatic win," Terry Strada, whose husband, Tom Strada, was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York, told The New York Times. "We can now return to our quest for justice and accountability against those who enabled the murder of our loved ones."
As part of the settlement to remove Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, victims of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania will soon receive up to $150 million in payouts in addition to previous $335 million settlement for a total of up to $485 million, The New York Times also reported.
"Finally, I can turn the page and get on with the rest of my life," former Commerce Department employee Ellen Bomer, who was blinded and has experienced post-traumatic stress from the 1998 blast at the embassy in Kenya, told The New York Times. "I believe that justice prevails."