The Guardian reports:
A US federal judge blamed Sudan for the first time yesterday for the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole in 2000 that killed 17 seamen. The judge, Robert Doumar, said there was "substantial evidence" to support the claim.
The accusation comes at a time when relations between the US and Sudan are already strained over the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
The USS Cole was attacked when it was in port in Yemen. Al-Qaida operatives rammed a small vessel loaded with explosives into the destroyer, blasting a hole in its side.
Families of those killed have filed a lawsuit against the Sudanese government. The hearing began on Tuesday in Norfolk, Virginia, home port of the USS Cole. The Sudanese government tried to prevent the case being heard, saying that too much time had passed between the bombing and the demand for $105m (£53m) in damages.
Although Sudan provided a safe haven for Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, he had left the country two years before the USS Cole bombing and set up camp in Afghanistan.
Specialists in counter-terrorism provided testimony to the court that Sudan allowed al-Qaida to run training camps and provided its members with diplomatic passports for travel and to smuggle explosives in diplomatic pouches.
Judge Doumar said: "There is substantial evidence in this case presented by the expert testimony that the government of Sudan induced the particular bombing of the Cole by virtue of prior actions of the government of Sudan." He is to elaborate later in writing.
The terrorism experts, including James Woolsey, the CIA director from 1993 to 1995, testified that al-Qaida could not have carried out the attack without the help of Sudan.
Mr Woolsey said: "It would not have been as easy - it might have been possible - but it would not have been as easy."
In its annual report last week the US state department, which still categorises Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, described attacks on civilians in Darfur as genocide and blamed the government.
The US launched a cruise missile attack on Sudan in the 1990s but the target turned out to be a dried milk factory.
But there is a reluctance in the US government, enmeshed in Iraq, to open a new front elsewhere, including Sudan, other than new sanctions.
Lawyers for the families claim Sudan's military provided al-Qaida with at least four crates of weapons and explosives for use in Yemen. They allege in court papers: "Sudan's material support ... including continuous flow of funding, money, weapons, logistical support, diplomatic passports and religious blessing, was crucial in enabling the attack on the USS Cole."
Shalala Swenchonis-Wood, whose brother died, told the court yesterday: "Words can't express the loss my family has gone through. It's not financial, it's not material, it's always the things, the little things, you don't see."