Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reflections on Past Assassination Attempts on Bangladesh Prime Minister

Last Wednesday my attention was drawn to an article -- The plan to assassinate Bangladesh Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina Wajed: How LTTE deal was blocked, suicide bombers failed to explode – published in a Sri Lankan virtual library (http://www.lankalibrary.com/pol/hasina.html). It provided an interesting reading on a subject of immense interest to anyone who grew up in Bangladesh. This concerns assassination attempts in 1996-2000 on Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the Awami League and daughter of Bangabandhu, and the current Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The plotters included the killers that had killed her father, and are reportedly aided by the Pakistani intelligence agency - ISI. The news report is from Sri Lanka, a country that has defeated the independence seeking Tamil Tigers only recently. I don’t know how authentic the information is; it doesn’t name the author; but I won’t be surprised learning about possible manipulations from intelligence groups like the Indian RAW to twist and exaggerate facts, at the expense of the ISI, to appear as the good guys here. The reporter seems to have quoted an unnamed RAW officer profusely, which substantiates my observation here. Lest we forget many of the reporters in South Asia are on the payroll of foreign intelligence agencies, including the Israeli Mossad and the Indian RAW.

After reading the piece, it seems Bangladesh has become a major arena for activities of foreign intelligence groups like the RAW, ISI and Mossad. The report alleges ISI-involvement in failed attempt to kill Sk. Hasina during her first premiership. While I could rationalize the ISI’s indirect role, if any, to kill Bangabandhu Sk. Mujib in 1975 (after all, by then Bhutto’s Pakistan had not recognized the new nation), I am at a loss to understand its motives to go after Sk. Hasina. A likely explanation may be that Sk. Hasina is viewed more pro-Indian, and as such detrimental to Sino-Pakistani interest for the region. But the plot looked so weak and given all the publicity from the Indian government as to how efficient the ISI has been in carrying out its deadly plans inside India, as a neutral and objective observer, I have problem placing the ISI with such a stupid plot in the post-1996 Bangladesh. However, as we know, sometimes most stupid things making the least sense do happen in our world.

The report said, “In 1997, the Mujib killers tried to get their accomplices, Lt. Col. Syed Farook Rahman and Maj. Bazlul Huda, freed by hijacking a Bangladesh Biman aircraft, with ISI support. But India’s RAW got to know about the plan after they tapped a conversation between an ISI operative and Lt. Col. (dismissed) Khondakar Abdur Rashid. RAW sent an emergency note to the Bangladesh aviation ministry and the Bangladesh Biman chief in Kolkata after they found out that the plotters were planning a hijack from Kolkata. In early 1998, 11 Arabs were arrested from the Kolkata airport on their way to Bangladesh. These Arabs were suspected to be accomplices of the Mujib killers, but were later found to be operatives of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, which was trying to infiltrate Bangladesh fundamentalist groups lending support to their counterparts in Palestine and West Asia. This alerted the plotters and they dropped their hijack plan.”

This is an interesting revelation, which confirms previous allegations that Mossad often recruits Arabs to do its dirty works and to even penetrate violent groups (something that we knew from some suicide-bombing acts inside the Occupied Territories). The report suggests that those Arabs were recruited by the Mossad to work with fundamentalist groups inside Bangladesh. For quite some time many analysts have suggested that the terrorist organization HuJi (Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami) was funded by the Mossad, while the JMB, another banned terrorist outfit, a RAW creation. This report, if authentic, does suggest that Mossad may be using some of these extremists as patsies. The published reports in the Internet have shown that some Zionist activists like Richard Benkin have been keeping in touch with a fundamentalist political group like the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) of Bangladesh, which now includes rank and file of the HuJi. It is worth noting here that in early November of last year Sheikh Abdus Salam, head of the IDP and founder and former chief of the banned HuJi, which has been accused of carrying out the deadly grenade attack in the capital that wounded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2004, and left more than 20 people dead including the wife of current Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman, was detained by police and remanded in custody for questioning over the grenade attack. For quite some time, Benkin has been also promoting the cause of pro-Israeli journalist Salauddin S. Chowdhury of the Weekly Blitz in the western world while fomenting an anti-Bangladesh image in the West. (Interestingly, Benkin was retained as a consultant by the BNP administration. Probably, the ex-State Home Minister Babor can explain the reason!)

If we are to put the pieces of the puzzle together, a very disturbing image emerges: Israel and Mossad’s plan remains dangerous and destabilizing the government of Bangladesh with support from its patsies within Bangladesh. One may recall that Chowdhury, accused of writing under the pseudonym of Sunita Paul, was exploiting the BDR tragedy with conspiracy theories that suggested that many within the ruling Awami League, including Sajeeb Wajed Joy – Prime Minster’s son, Sohel Taj – ex-State Minister for Home Affairs, Barrister Taposh (late Sk. Moni’s son), MPs Nanak and Azam, were part of the criminal nexus that conspired to kill Army officers on deputation to the BDR. Were these -- yellow journalism and the carnage itself -- all part of a sinister plan to start a civil war inside Bangladesh, bringing about the demise of the new regime?

The report mentions the involvement of (Retd.) Col. Munirul Islam Chowdhury Munna, ex-son-in-law of Tajuddin Ahmed as a co-conspirator to assassinate Sk. Hasina. He has been living in the USA for nearly three decades. While I never met (Retd.) Col. Munir, who is actually divorced from his wife Sharmeen Ahmed (not mentioned in the report) -- an honorable Bangladeshi expatriate living in the greater DC area, I remember seeing his interview on global politics on an American TV channel in the 1980s. He appeared very well informed, articulate and was a smart individual. I was also told that he came close to President Ershad during his rule. I am shocked to read in the report that, accompanied by killer Rashid, he “went to Europe and got in touch with a French contract killer, Alain Deloin, who demanded $5 million for the job.” The report says that he was also involved with a second plan to kill Sk. Hasina in 1999, which included payment of $10 million to LTTE terrorists: “The payment to the LTTE was routed by a former military officer, Col. Munirul Islam Chowdhury “Munna”, who now runs a software company in North Virginia in the US. The deal was simple: Munna would ‘buy’ software from the Kolkata-based computer major and pay in dollars. The owner of the Indian firm would be paid well in excess of the value of the purchase with clear instructions to pass on $10 million to the LTTE contacts through another ‘over-invoicing deal.’” If true, I don’t know if these revelations had anything to do with Mr. Munir’s divorce from Sharmeen, who remains a strong supporter of the Awami League government and its leadership.

The report claims that the money from Mr. Munir never reached the desired computer company since its owner died mysteriously in a road accident. Are we to assume here that since RAW had kept a vigilant eye on the said person, they were the ones that caused that road accident? The report says that when the “money” did not reach LTTE, they backed off from the operation to kill Sk. Hasina. However, as a backup plan, the report says, the ISI had engaged the Harkat-ul-Jehad, which planted 76 kg of RDX only 100 yards from a dais from which Sheikh Hasina was supposed to address a public meeting at Kotalipara in Gopalgunj district in August of 2000. But the bomb was discovered by the public an hour and a half before the meeting. The rest is history! Sk. Hasina miraculously also survived the 2004 grenade attack that killed many of her party leaders and workers.

As we can see political assassination attempts in Bangladesh since Bangabandhu’s murder seem connected with foreign spy agencies. Outside the old players – the CIA, SIS/MI6 and FSB (former KGB), one way or another, three new players – the RAW, ISI and Mossad seem highly engaged in Bangladesh. Of these, the role of Mossad remains rather sinister, especially given the fact that Israel is not part of South Asia. On January 19, just a month ago, its agents, using British, Irish, German and French identities, assassinated a Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room in Dubai.

Mossad has been accused of infiltrating and funding Muslim extremist religious groups in many parts of our world. Many of the sensational early executions inside Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hossein bore their marks. Some of the foreign fighters, recruited by the CIA, that fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan are believed to have become - either knowingly or unknowingly - Mossad patsies, which have been playing destabilizing roles in the countries where they settled. The report above and other collaborative information on HuJi/IDP activities inside Bangladesh once again give credence to such theories. We may never know if last year’s BDR carnage had anything to do with another failed attempt against Sk. Hasina, but it is high time for Bangladesh government to closely monitor the activities of foreign agents, foreign embassies and NGOs to avoid a repeat of such tragedies.

We should never allow political assassinations to succeed. Such crimes should never be condoned, let alone rewarded. As such, by executing the killers of Bangabandhu, Bangladesh government has taken the right step to curb future crimes of this nature from happening. It was a delayed justice but a sweet one to the families of the victims. As the Mahajote government tries to book the criminals that were responsible for the 1975 November Jail killings and the plotters and assassins that tried to kill Sk. Hasina in 2000 and 2004, due care must be taken so that the trial process is a transparent, fair, just and judicious one, failing which it may plant the very seeds of future assassination attempts.

References:
http://www.defence.pk/forums/world-affairs/14658-mossad-floats-islamist-political-party-bangladesh-raw-aggrieved.html ; http://ibnlive.in.com/news/terror-group-huji-forms-political-party-in-bangladesh/74081-3.html
http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest+News/Asia/Story/A1Story20091103-177661.html
For citations see, this author’s blog: http://drhabibsiddiqui.blogspot.com/ for the months of March-July 2009; see also: http://www.bangladeshihindu.com/an-india-israel-united-states-alliance-the-last-great-hope-for-humanity/, http://www.idsa.in/idsastrategiccomments/HUJIasaPoliticalParty_AKumar_201008 ; many of Dr. Benkin’s hateful writings against Muslims are archived in the site: http://www.bangladeshihindu.com/author/richard/
http://shafiur.i-edit.net/?p=123
Sunita Paul’s unsubstantiated articles in the American Chronicle were also translated into Bangla in the Daily Amar Desh, that is owned by a BNP stalwart. Its assistant editor was invited in the milad mahfil of IDP: http://islamicdemocraticpartydhakacitybranch.blogspot.com/2009/09/iftar-mahfil-of-islamic-democratic.html
For citations see, this author’s blog: http://drhabibsiddiqui.blogspot.com/ for the months of March-July 2009.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7029155.ece. Political assassination of Palestinians has been widely practiceed by Mossad since its creation. For a list of Mossad-assassinated individuals, see, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Israeli_assassinations

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