"In spite of the odds, the Christians [of Sudan] are 'doing something'
about their situation, they are standing up against the evil of Islam. . .
not only fighting for survival, but fighting to win back that nation for
Christ." - Derek Hammond, missionary affiliated with South African
pro-apartheid group, Frontline Fellowship
Part I:Sudan 'Anti-slavery' campaign is outgrowth of pro-Israel lobby
Part II:Christian 'slave redeemers' linked to pro-apartheid
Part III:American Muslims in false dilemma over Sudan war
Iviews.com has learned that Christian "slave redeemers" who are allied
with Sudanese rebels have close links to militant South African missionary
groups with ties to the former apartheid government of South Africa.
Swiss-based Christian Solidarity International (CSI) is one of the most
prominent missionary groups involved in the Sudanese war. CSI portrays the
conflict as a war imposed by the Muslim and Arab North to forcibly convert a
black African Christian South. "The Government of Sudan is waging a 'Holy
War' to Islamize by force the ethnically and religiously diverse country,"
reads CSI literature. Experts say that while religion plays a role in the
conflict, this view of the war is narrow and simplistic.
The dominant rebel Sudanese militia is the Sudan People's Liberation Army
(SPLA). The SPLA claims to be defending the population of South Sudan from
Khartoum's army and from Islamization. "Though its members claim to be
'Christians' resisting Islamization, they have behaved like an occupying
army, killing, raping and pillaging," wrote the New York Times.
CSI has publicly embraced the SPLA. In March of this year, the United
Nations stripped CSI of its UN accreditation after the group invited SPLA
commander John Garang to represent it in a meeting before the UN Commission
on Human Rights. Garang gave what the U.S. representative called "an
intemperate speech" about military matters, then distributed his remarks on
CSI "allowed themselves to be used as a Trojan horse for a group that
expresses very different goals than the United Nations," a UN source told
Using money raised by Charles Jacobs' American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG)
and others, CSI sends its activists to South Sudan to pay for the release of
South Sudanese civilians captured by militias allied with Khartoum. It calls
the practice "slave redemption." The operations are organized and protected
by the SPLA.
CSI says that to date it has paid for the release of 11,147 Sudanese. The
tactic has been condemned by UNICEF and others, who say buying captives does
not address the roots of the problem and actually encourages the taking of
slaves as a profit-making venture.
Some observers suggest that the money raised in the United States for
"slave redemption" may help finance members of the SPLA. Charles Omandi, an
official of the Sudan Catholic Information Office of the Sudanese Diocese of
Rumbek, told iviews.com:
"...the whole thing is organised by the Sudan People's Liberation Army
(SPLA). One long serving European priest, who did not want to be named for
security reasons said: 'How can the CSI be sure that the SPLA officials are
not manipulating them for selfish ends when even the translators who help
them transact the deals are given to them by the movement?'"
One of CSI's top officials is Gunnar Wiebalck, a white South African in
charge of disaster aid at the group's international headquarters in
Switzerland. Along with CSI activist John Eibner, Wiebalck is a high-profile
participant in CSI's "slave redemption" missions.
Wiebalck is also the former executive secretary of South Africa-based
United Christian Action (UCA). UCA is an umbrella body of militant
right-wing Christian groups that defended white minority rule during the
apartheid era. A secret South African army document revealed in 1997 before
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified UCA as a covert
propaganda project of the Apartheid government's security apparatus. UCA's
main role was to combat anti-apartheid activism.
UCA zealously attacked all activities that it saw as threatening to the
apartheid system. The group demonstrated when Archbishop Desmond Tutu became
the first black primate (title for a ranking clergy member) of the Anglican
Church of South Africa. UCA demanded that security forces arrest a group of
white anti-apartheid Christian activists who defied official segregation by
traveling to a black township for Bible study. The activists had tried, with
the trip, to break down social and psychological barriers created by
And when it was rumored that the government was contemplating the release
of jailed anti-apartheid leader (and future Noble Peace Prizewinner and
South African president) Nelson Mandela, UCA circulated 12,000 flyers
demanding he be kept in jail. "Time is short. Mandela could be released
before Christmas," UCA warned.
Asked whether Wiebalck should repudiate his pro-apartheid past, CSI's
American spokesman said he disagreed with iviews.com's characterization of
Wiebalck is only one player in a web of support by veteran South African,
pro-apartheid activists for Sudan's rebels.
CSI directs reporters to the web site http://vitrade.com for more information about
the evils of Western companies that invest in the country. The site says it
is operated by ViTrade Research, a "non-affiliated, non-religious,
independent financial risk analysis and research company with global
expertise as international commodity traders, fraud investigators,
economists, bank regulators and examiners, and global risk managers and
In reality, there is no corporate record of the existence of a "ViTrade,"
other than a California firm that lost its corporate status in 1993. The
Indian Ocean Newsletter says the site "functions, in fact, thanks to
gifts from a few individuals."
Vitrade.com is operated by Dennis Bennett, a former banker and financial
risk analyst. He is credited with being a driving force behind a campaign to
force American pension funds to sell their holdings in the Canadian oil
company Talisman Energy Inc., which invests in Sudan. Bennett helped compile
the list of pension funds holding shares in Talisman.
Bennett is also a leader of In Touch Mission International (ITMI), a Christian missionary group based in
Tempe, Arizona. Bennett told iviews.com he is project director of ITMI's Blue Nile Project, which he says
delivers bibles and hymnals to southern Sudan.
ITMI is the American arm of the South Africa-based ultra-right missionary
group Frontline Fellowship.
Frontline Fellowship activists have made dozens of trips to South Sudan,
where they say they "smuggle Bibles" to Christian Sudanese. ITMI collects
money for Frontline Fellowship and serves as its U.S. base of operations
(Frontline Fellowship lists ITMI's phone number on its web site in its
contact information, and ITMI solicits donations for the group on its web
The chairman of Frontline Fellowship is Peter Hammond, a former South
African army sniper and intelligence officer. Hammond, the son-in-law of
ITMI president Bill Bathman, formed Frontline Fellowship on a South African
military base in Namibia, drawing on ex-Rhodesian commando units for
members. Frontline Fellowship literature called the South African army und,er
apartheid a "missionary force" which must be supported. He is also the
current director of UCA (of CSI's Gunnar Wiebalck), of which Frontline
Fellowship has been a member since the 1980s.
"If you believe Christ wants a holy war to preserve apartheid, the
Reverend Peter Hammond is your general, his Frontline Fellowship your army,"
wrote the National Catholic Reporter in 1989.
The Indian Ocean Newsletter reported in February that moderate
Christian relief agencies delivering aid to South Sudan such as Church
Ecumenical Action in Sudan (CEAS) "say the Fellowship understands
the southern Sudanese conflict in purely religious terms and therefore only
heightens opposition between Christian and Moslems there." CEAS also
"criticizes the Fellowship's strong-arm tactics, the presence of mercenaries
in its ranks, and the fact it allegedly offered military equipment to the
southern Sudanese rebels."
The government of Sudan charges that Frontline Fellowship is running
weapons to the SPLA. Hammond denies this, but his group has a history of
Kathi Austin, a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Center for
African Studies and a former researcher for Human Rights Watch, told
iviews.com she took photographs of military equipment Frontline Fellowship
smuggled into Mozambique in support of South African-backed rebels--under
the cover of smuggling religious material.
Ian Gray, an Australian who was recruited in 1986 for missionary work by
one of the many supposedly religious groups associated with the Mozambique
rebels, soon found himself tasked with carrying military messages for the
insurgents. Gray said in a 1988 interview that Hammond was involved in more
According to Gray, Hammond was often surrounded by former South African
military men, whom he described as being more military than missionary. Gray
said that whenever Hammond arrived at the rebel base, "there were other guys
that were with him that were involved in military activities." He said he
doubted their claim to be missionaries because "a lot of them even had
Hammond's brother Derek runs a missionary group called Faith in Action, also known as Love in
Action. The group, according to its web site, is affiliated with Frontline
Fellowship. Derek Hammond describes the Sudanese conflict as the fault of
"the anti-Christian religion of Islam." But, says Hammond, "in spite of the
odds, the Christians are 'doing something' about their situation, they are
standing up against the evil of Islam. . . not only fighting for survival,
but fighting to win back that nation for Christ."
Bennett's public relations work for Frontline Fellowship and the SPLA's
cause is extensive. In addition to serving as Webmaster for vitrade.com (the
phone number listed for ViTrade in its Internet site documentation is ITMI's
Tempe office), both the Frontline Fellowship and In Touch Mission
International web sites are registered to him.
Bennett's publicist, McGlothlin & Associates, ensures he is a regular
on the right-wing talk radio circuit. McGlothlin also does public relations
work for Frontline Fellowship's Hammond, Ed Cain (UCA's former president),
and various Midwestern militia groups.
Another US-based associate of Hammond is Brad Phillips, director of the
Virginia-based, Christian, patriot organization, U.S. Taxpayers Alliance
(USTA). Phillips runs the Persecution Project for the alliance, which
promotes the fight against Christian persecution.
Phillips' group has produced a video version of Hammond's book "Faith
Under Fire," called "Sudan: The Hidden Holocaust." USTA promotional material
says the video "reveals the unknown struggle of the African Christian tribes
of central and southern Sudan who are presently engaged in a life-and-death
battle against radical, Moslem invaders from the north." When customers buy
the video, they rece,ive Persecution Project's "special report," "Sudan: The
Cross vs. The Crescent."
The video was produced on-location with Hammond by Jeremiah Films, a
company best known for such controversial documentaries as "The Clinton
Chronicles" and "The God Makers II." The latter depicts Mormons as Satan
worshippers, homosexuals, child abusers and murderers. (The film was
condemned by the National Conference of Christians and Jews.)
Like Charles Jacobs of the American Anti-Slavery Group, Phillips slams
the anti-apartheid movement. "The hypocrisy of the antiapartheid movement
always upset me," he told Insight on the News. "That crowd never
cared about blacks mistreating other blacks. They just cared about whites
mistreating blacks. Thus they went after Rhodesia. Thus they went after
Howard Phillips, father of Brad Phillips and the founder of the U.S.
Taxpayers Alliance, was a staunch advocate of the apartheid regime during
In a 1988 "geopolitical/financial tour" organized by Phillips, one of his
aids encouraged the assassination of anti-apartheid activist Archbishop
Desmond Tutu. "The least you can do is remove the idiot's passport and not
let him travel over to our country, and somebody might want to even shoot
him," the aid told an audience of Durban businessmen.
Veteran advocates of South African government causes have also been
associated with the government of Sudan, although their support is much less
Bruce Fein, a lawyer from northern Virginia, actually wrote the
constitution that South African-backed Renamo rebels in Mozambique wanted to
replace that country's constitution with. The Embassy of Sudan employed Fein
as a lobbyist until the United States implemented economic sanctions against
Khartoum that prevented him from receiving money.
So what does all this mean? For the answer to that question, read the
analysis of the facts of these relationships in Part III of this
investigative series, American Muslims in false dilemma over Sudan
Ismail Royer is the iviews.com Washington Bureau Chief
1Time, December 21, 1998 pg. 44
2On one trip in January of this year Wiebalck was
accompanied by SPLA Executive Council Member Arthur Akuien Chol, John
Garang's minister of finance and economic planning. See The Indian Ocean
Newsletter, April 26, 1997
3 United Press International October 30, 1989
4 Mail and Guardian (Johannesburg), September 23,
1999. The document referred to was reproduced
in: Mail and Guardian (Johannesburg) September 19, 1997
5 Financial Times (London), September 8, 1986
6 Time, March 28, 1988; also, The
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) March 19, 1988
7 Chicago Sun-Times 12/11/1987
8 The Indian Ocean Newsletter, November 27, 1999
10 Mail and Guardian (Johannesburg), September 23, 1999
11 The Arizona Republic, 10/29/1989 Page A14
12 Mail and Guardian, September 23, 1999
13 Africa News, November, 1989
14 Mail and Guardian, September 23, 1999
15 Africa News, November, 1989
16 For example: "Militia Leaders Propose Solution to End
Montana Standoff," PR Newswire, May 23, 1996
17 The Nation , 9/26/88, Pg. 228