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Sudanese factory destroyed by US now a shrine

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Ikram Ataib sees the ruins of Al Shifa every day that she goes to work at the furniture showroom across the street, where the plush, polished leather chairs and gleaming chrome and glass tables are a sharp contrast to the dun-colored ruins of Al Shifa.

Ms. Ataib was 9 years old when the attack took place. She heard the blasts at her family home a couple of blocks away, and said her pregnant aunt miscarried her unborn child at 5 months because she was so afraid.

"I am very, very affected," Ataib says. "Some people were angry. Some people were weeping. And the dead; until now this memory is with me. I remember the fire, the flames...."

One person died in the middle-of-the-night strike, and 10 were wounded. Afterward, then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen said that, before the strike, the US was unaware that the plant was making medicines, even though the plant had recently signed a large US-approved United Nations oil-for-food contract with Iraq.

"I blame the United States of America," says Ataib, as if the attack had happened yesterday. "Even if they apologize, it is nonsense, because they already did what was on their minds. Now it is like a tourist site."

'A terrorist act'

Hassan al-Turabi, the firebrand preacher and speaker of parliament at the time – now he is a fierce critic of the government – told the Monitor after the attack that "Islam is now entrenched" in Sudan.

"The [US] president wanted a target, and on his list Sudan was there," Mr. Turabi said in 1998. "This is a terrorist act against Sudan, a terrorist act."

The effort to neutralize Mr. bin Laden with missiles would instead "create 10,000 bin Ladens," Turabi predicted.

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