Sudan produces 70 percent of the world's gum arabic and through an exemption in President Clinton's tough sanctions, sacks of the amber- colored or clear gum nuggets are still arriving in U.S. ports. Now many are scrambling to defend the imports, from the nation's companies that bring in hundreds of tons each year to the members of Congress who hope to extend gum arabic's exemption from the list of barred Sudanese goods into the next century.
That report is "outdated now," said a State Department official, explaining that bin Laden divested himself of all holdings in 1996 when he was kicked out of Sudan and moved to Afghanistan. Another State Department official said bin Laden and his cronies tried to take over all the gum arabic crop in the early 1990s "but failed in their attempt."
"Osama bin Laden does not have any involvement in cultivating trees to produce gum in any form or involved in the processing of gum inside Sudan or outside Sudan," D. Musa Mohamed Karam, the company's general manager, said in an interview in the firm's Khartoum office. "Nor does he have any stake or shares in the Gum Arabic company. Nor is he providing financing to the gum business inside Sudan or facilitating the export of gum from Sudan. That's for sure."
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