Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bangladesh uncovers Pakistan’s role in Arming India’s North-East rebels

Islam,Terrorism and Jihad
21 May 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com

Bangladesh uncovers Pakistan's role in Arming India's North-East rebels

INVESTIGATIONS into the 2004 Chittagong arms haul have taken a sensational turn with the revelation by a former Bangladesh intelligence chief that a Dubai- based business house owned by a Pakistani, and the high commissioner of an " unnamed country", (obviously Pakistan) smuggled 10 truckloads of arms for the Ulfa into the country through a government- owned jetty. They did this with the connivance of high officials of the Bangladeshi intelligence and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's son. -- Mail Today Bureau in New Delhi

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Backgrounder

Pakistan shifts proxy war to India's east

The ISI built up a substantial presence in several areas of Kolkata and almost all districts of the state bordering Bangladesh - with the Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district in the north receiving particular attention. All this was dramatically brought to light in January 1999, when Delhi police arrested Syed Abu Nasir, a Bangladeshi who had crossed over from Bangladesh to bomb the US Embassy in Delhi and the US Consulate General in Chennai. He reportedly revealed during interrogation that he and his team of nine had gathered in Kolkata in December 1998. From there, the three Indian members had been sent to Siliguri to establish a support base in collaboration with ISI agents stationed there, while the six "Afghans" - a generic term used to signify Afghans as well as various Arab and other terrorists trained in Afghanistan by al-Qaeda - went to Chennai. The three Indians who went to Siliguri were subsequently arrested while the six "Afghans" managed to disappear.

The ISI's activities in the area attracted further attention during the Kargil war when a blast in a train in North Jalpaiguri station on June 24, 1999, directed at a group of soldiers travelling to Kashmir, killed two of them and injured 16. There were several other attempts to sabotage the movement of troops and equipment from north-eastern to north-western India. These incidents clearly underlined the reason for the ISI's activities in Siliguri. North-eastern India's sole direct land link with the rest of the country passes through the subdivision, particularly the narrow Siliguri-Islampur corridor.  -- Sultan Shahin in Asia Times Online on February 6, 2002

URL of this page: http://www.newageislam.org/NewAgeIslamArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1419 

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Pakistan's role in weapons for Ulfa revealed

By Mail Today Bureau in New Delhi

 

INVESTIGATIONS into the 2004 Chittagong arms haul have taken a sensational turn with the revelation by a former Bangladesh intelligence chief that a Dubai- based business house owned by a Pakistani, and the high commissioner of an " unnamed country", smuggled 10 truckloads of arms for the Ulfa into the country through a government- owned jetty.

 

They did this with the connivance of high officials of the Bangladeshi intelligence and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's son.

 

It takes little imagination to understand that the "high commissioner", the designation for the ambassador of a fellow Commonwealth country, belonged to Pakistan.

 

New Delhi has long charged that the Pakistani Inter- Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate has been involved in destabilising India's insurgent- ridden North- East by providing funds and weapons to the guerrillas.

 

In addition, the ISI uses Bangladesh as a stepping stone for sending terrorists across the poorly policed Indo- Bangladesh border. The Bangladesh investigation, made possible only by the return of the government of Sheikh Hasina earlier this year, could provide detailed confirmation of the nefarious activities of Pakistani diplomats in our neighbourhood.

 

The Bangladesh police and coastguard had stumbled across a mammoth consignment of sophisticated illegal weapons — some 1,200 sub- machine guns, 300 rocket launchers, 2,000 rockets, 25,000 hand grenades, nearly two million rounds of ammunition — when they raided the government- controlled Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd jetty on April 2, 2004. The mystery behind this seizure has been exposed only now when retired wing commander Sahabuddin Ahmed, a former director of the Bangladesh National Security Intelligence ( NSI), was arrested and spilled the beans in his confessional statement.

 

Ahmed reportedly confessed that the ARY Group, that operates out of Dubai and is owned by a Pakistani, had funded the shocking arms smuggling attempt with help from the erstwhile NSI director, Brig- Gen.

 

Abdur Rahim, who has been in custody since Wednesday. The CID, investigating the case, has moved court seeking his 10- day remand. Rahim's successor, retired Maj- Gen. Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury, too, has been arrested in the case.

 

The weapons and explosives had been shipped to Chittagong in two fishing trawlers, MV Khwaja and FT Amanat. The police and coastguards intercepted the consignment when about 150 labourers were openly unloading it on the banks of the Karnafully river. These weapons were to be shipped to a place called Haluaghat in north Bangladesh's Mymensingh district.

 

The NSI's job was to ensure this went through smoothly.

 

A report in the Dhaka daily Prothom Alo has given damning details of Ahmed's confessional statement and said Rahim, Ulfa leader Paresh Barua, ARY Group managing director Salman Yusuf Rahman and the high commissioner of an " unnamed country" had worked together to sneak in the enormous arms consignment consisting of guns, rockets, grenades and ammunition purchased from China.

 

The daily quoted the confession to say Rahim held a string of meetings with the ARY Group's managing director in Dubai and Dhaka, at least two of which were attended by then Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's son, Tarique, who was widely known as the pointman for key government decisions.

 

Ahmed, who was picked up from his in- laws' home in Dhaka's Green Road area on the night of May 2, reportedly told interrogators that as NSI director, he had developed a rapport with diplomats of many foreign missions. He was particularly close to the counsellor and defence attaché of a particular mission [ read Pakistan] and had introduced his director- general Abdur Rahim to the high commissioner and defence attaché of that country.

 

Thereafter, Ahmed said, director- general Rahim during one of his Dubai tours, also met the intelligence chief of the " unnamed country". Ahmed also provided details of meetings in Dhaka, many of which were attended by the ARY chief, the unnamed high commissioner and Paresh Barua. Some of these sessions were held at Dhaka safehouses.

 

Once the ARY managing director left, Ahmed said, directorgeneral Rahim held a meeting with his lieutenants, Brig. D. S. Shaukat Reza, Maj. Liaquat and him. The NSI boss told them the high commissioner of " a country" had approached him with some requests, but entertaining these would be impossible without the nod from the highest quarters of the government.

 

One of these apparently was to shift Ulfa leader Anup Chetia from the Dhaka Central Prison to Mymensingh. The ultimate intention reportedly was to help him escape.

 

Ahmed claimed that the director- general had summoned him to his room and in the presence of other NSI officers, told him that ARY would finance the shipment of some arms to Bangladesh and that appropriate arrangements should be made for this. He had subsequently met the ARY boss and the high commissioner for a number of times.

 

The news report says Ahmed has confessed to having a hand in getting the shipment over, but has consistently refused to name the country involved.

 

In February 2004, Ahmed claimed, an ARY Group director and two other company officials flew down to Dhaka. An NSI officer, Maj. Liaquat, received them at the airport and the director general met the team at Dhaka's upscale Sonargaon Hotel.

 

Tarique Zia apparently attended this meeting.

 

The director- general subsequently instructed his officers to look for trustworthy people to handle the consignment and Akbar, a field officer, was picked for the task.

 

Akbar had deep links with Ulfa operatives, for it was his responsibility to shield them from law enforcement agencies. He was, on the instructions of the director- general, made to put in a leave application and sent to Chittagong.

 

Akbar, who has been arrested, has confessed that Sahabuddin Ahmed had ordered trucks to be rented for transportation of arms after those had been offloaded at the jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Ltd.

 

Ahmed said he and his fellow officers were aware that ARY was funding the consignment and one of his colleagues, Maj.

 

Anjaam, was asked to ensure there was no police interference during the transportation of the consignment to Mymensingh.

Source: mailtoday.in

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Pakistan shifts proxy war to India's east

 

By Sultan Shahin

 

February 6, 2002

 

NEW DELHI - The Indian government is gradually coming round to the view that the attack on policemen guarding the American Centre in Kolkata on January 22 marks the shifting of the theatre of Pakistan's proxy war.

 

Though official spokespeople continue to claim that militant infiltration in Kashmir is continuing on the previous scale, a feeling is growing that the focus of Pakistan-sponsored terrorist activities is now moving to India's east and northeast, as Pakistan may not be able to defy strong international pressure to close shop in Kashmir.

 

A realization is gradually dawning upon India's security officials that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has been preparing for such an eventuality for a long time. As well-informed analyst Hiranmay Karlekar writes in his column in the Pioneer newspaper (January 25): "The ISI, in collaboration with sections of Bangladesh's intelligence outfits and fundamentalist Islamic organizations, has been training and supporting northeast Indian insurgent outfits like the United Liberation Front of Asom [Assam] (ULFA), both Khaplang and the Isaac Swu-Thuingaleng Muivah groups of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), Bodo rebels in Assam and tribal insurgents in Tripura for years.

 

"Its plans include the separation of the whole of north-eastern India from the rest of the country and the creation of an autonomous Islamic state in the northeast comprising parts of Assam, Nagaland and Myanmar. Should it ever come close to success in implementing its plans, trouble in the Siliguri-Islampur corridor, hampering movement of troops and supplies to the north-eastern states, would be of critical advantage to it."

ISI objective in Bangladesh is intelligence encirclement of India

According to Indian government sources, the basic objective of the ISI in Bangladesh is intelligence encirclement of India. It uses the strategy of supporting and fomenting insurgency in India's northeast and encouraging militants of various shades in different parts of India. It makes direct use of Bangladesh territory to infiltrate its agents and saboteurs across the border.

 

Of particular advantage to the ISI is the long and porous India-Bangladesh border which makes crossings either way easy, particularly when there are elements all along it to facilitate the process. According to reports in the Pakistani media, India has recently moved more forces to the India-Bangladesh border. This may be part of an effort to stop or at least reduce infiltration of militants from this border.

 

The recent incident in Kolkata is not the first of its kind in West Bengal. On December 22, 1994, two boys in Domkal in West Bengal's Murshidabad district discovered several bombs very near a temporary dais from which Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, now chief minister of West Bengal and then an important minister, was to address a public meeting on December 24 along with other functionaries of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M).

 

ISI has been preparing for such an eventuality for a long time

This may explain why Bhattacharjee has gone out of his way in condemning and acting against the latest terrorist outrage, though his colleagues in the party were not inclined initially to implicate Pakistan or the ISI. CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury had indeed accused Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani as having "jumped the gun" in pointing fingers at the ISI without adequate information.

 

Having investigated the Domkal incident, reports Karlekar, India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) concluded that an organization called Ahl-e-Hadith (AeH) was involved. The same organization, it further believed, was behind five explosions that occurred on trains in different parts of India on December 6, 1993, the first anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Mosque, and 42 others - not including the serial bomb blasts in Bombay on March 12, 1993 - in various parts of the country from 1988 to 1993.

 

One reason for this conclusion was that the explosives used in the Domkal bombs were the same as in the five train and 42 other blasts. The Domkal bombs also had the same kind of timers the five railway bombs had. Besides, the other 42 blasts had occurred in areas marked by acute communal tension where they could have triggered riots. Murshidabad district had been such an area for quite some time then. The CBI also believed that three of the five people sought for questioning in connection with the blasts were hiding in West Bengal.

 

Yossef Bodansky confirms in "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America"

The CBI was convinced that the ISI was behind the bombs. The conclusion is corroborated by Yossef Bodansky in his book Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America. "The ISI actively assists bin Laden in the establishment of an Islamic infrastructure in India ... The primary venues for the distribution of Islamic literature and incitement material are the institutions run by the Ahl-i-Hadith religious charity which is associated with Lashkar-i-Toiba, an Islamist Kashmiri organization." Under the command of Abdul Karim Tunda, the Lashkar-i-Toiba is already responsible "for several bomb explosions".

 

Thus by the end of 1994, according to Karlekar's information, the ISI, which had started operating with the utmost freedom in Bangladesh after Begum Khaleda Zia became prime minister in 1991, had already established a significant presence in West Bengal and was even in a position to shelter wanted persons from other parts of India in the state. Using Bangladesh as its springboard and aided by West Bengal state government's complacency, it extended its network far and wide in the state in the next few years, using it as a staging area for its agents entering from Bangladesh to carry out terrorist acts in other parts of India and for sending people from different parts of India to Bangladesh for onward journey to Pakistan and Afghanistan for training as agents. It established "safe houses", planted "sleepers" - agents who merged with the local people and remained dormant for long periods before acting - and centers for recruiting agents.

 

The ISI built up a substantial presence in several areas of Kolkata and almost all districts of the state bordering Bangladesh - with the Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district in the north receiving particular attention. All this was dramatically brought to light in January 1999, when Delhi police arrested Syed Abu Nasir, a Bangladeshi who had crossed over from Bangladesh to bomb the US Embassy in Delhi and the US Consulate General in Chennai. He reportedly revealed during interrogation that he and his team of nine had gathered in Kolkata in December 1998. From there, the three Indian members had been sent to Siliguri to establish a support base in collaboration with ISI agents stationed there, while the six "Afghans" - a generic term used to signify Afghans as well as various Arab and other terrorists trained in Afghanistan by al-Qaeda - went to Chennai. The three Indians who went to Siliguri were subsequently arrested while the six "Afghans" managed to disappear.

 

Kargil war

The ISI's activities in the area attracted further attention during the Kargil war when a blast in a train in North Jalpaiguri station on June 24, 1999, directed at a group of soldiers traveling to Kashmir, killed two of them and injured 16. There were several other attempts to sabotage the movement of troops and equipment from north-eastern to northwestern India. These incidents clearly underlined the reason for the ISI's activities in Siliguri. North-eastern India's sole direct land link with the rest of the country passes through the subdivision, particularly the narrow Siliguri-Islampur corridor.

 

Indeed, according to Indian intelligence sources, the ISI has long been providing assistance to insurgents in the northeast in a variety of ways, including helping them run their training camps in Bangladesh. After the installation of the Awami League government in Bangladesh in 1996, the Indian insurgent groups were asked to leave Bangladeshi soil. But dominant groups such as the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isaac Swu/Muivah (NSCN-I/M), ULFA, All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) and National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) continued to function in that country in a more covert manner by forging local-level links with Bangladeshi security forces.

 

Initially, in March/April 1997, Indian intelligence sources perceived some decline in insurgent activities and the militants, mainly belonging to ULFA and NSCN-I/M, had started winding up their overt activities and shifting their camps temporarily to Myanmar. But through support from such parties as the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) and Freedom Party (FP), the militants started reorganizing themselves and re-established their camps in Bangladesh.

 

A rather intricate network in Bangladesh

The ISI has managed to establish a rather intricate network in Bangladesh, thanks to the presence of the residue of pro-Pakistan sympathizers after 1971 and the influence it wielded between 1975 and 1996 when the Awami League was out of power. The period from 1991 to 1996, when Khaleda Zia was prime minister of the BNP government, proved particularly fruitful. During this period the ISI was not only able to subvert various local agencies, including the army, but also ran training camps for northeast Indian insurgents with the consent of the government.

 

After the Awami League government took power in June 1996, there was a review of government policy and official patronage of such anti-India activities was withdrawn. However, on account of loyalties built up over the years, and religious indoctrination and rampant corruption in the ranks of both Indian and Bangladeshi security forces, networks continued to facilitate movement of Indian insurgent leaders and also supply these groups with arms.

 

The ISI obviously realizes the importance of mobilizing anti-India and pro-Pakistan political elements in Bangladesh and bringing them to power with a view to securing state patronage. It has therefore nurtured the BNP while in and out of power, shoring it up up politically and financially. It has done the same with various rightist parties such as the FP and JEI. More recently the ISI has been playing a leading role in patching together an alliance between these rightist parties and assisting them in devising and launching a strategy to dislodge the Awami League from power.

 

After June 1996, on account of an unfriendly party being in power in Bagladesh, the ISI has had to give up its earlier brazenness and work covertly through various channels. While some operations are still controlled from the local Pakistani mission - where the ISI unit was said to be headed by A H Qureshi, a minister-rank official - a larger part of anti-Indian activities are conducted through various mosques, madrasas (seminaries) and attached training camps across the country, and through Pakistani agents and facilitators placed in various private organizations and political parties. There has also been liberal use of the country's press for anti-India propaganda with communal overtones. The aim is to keep anti-India feelings high so that no government is ever in a position to accede to Indian requests for information about north-eastern militants, and to stalemate Indian influence in Bangladesh.

 

The ISI makes use of prominent Bangladeshi names and institutions

The ISI makes use of prominent Bangladeshi names and institutions for its purposes. Indian officials cite the example of the Beximco Group - which employs about 600 Pakistanis and whose owners, Sohel and Solman Rahman, are alleged to have pro-Pakistan sympathies. Beximco Group has been allegedly used as conduit for funds to the BNP. Prominent local politicians Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, Syed Iskander (brother of Khaleda Zia) and Anwar Zahed, who are ensconced in the BNP, are alleged to have a well-documented history of indulging in arms trafficking into India's northeast.

 

A number of other commercial establishments, namely Ibnesina, Islami Bank, Habib Bank, Pak Land and Lever Brothers, with known Pakistani links, and front organizations of fundamentalist parties like the JEI, Tablighi Jamaat, Jamaat-e-Tulaba and Jamaat-ul-Mudarreseen, allegedly serve the interests of the ISI. Moreover, Pakistan sympathizers within the army, various intelligence agencies and the bureaucracy continue to aid the ISI.

 

Indian officials allege that apart from intelligence operations conducted by Pakistan's mission in Dhaka, agents are being sent directly from Pakistan for specific tasks such as training, briefing, supervising, providing funds, and meeting with militants. Some people collaborate with the ISI for political and religious reasons. Salahuddin Qader Choudhary and his brother Giasuddin Choudhary - both BNP leaders and alleged arms smugglers - are actively involved in abetting fundamentalists, militant groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad, and rightist political parties such as JEI and IOJ. Notorious terrorist Abdul Karim Tunda from Chittagong, and Pakistan-trained alleged terrorist Asif Khan, who visited India to foment trouble during the last general elections, fall into this category.

 

ISI connections with NGOs

The ISI is also said to have connections with non-governmental organizations such as Islamic Relief Organization and Junudul Muqawat Al Islamiya, as well as with madrasas such as Rabeta in Ramu, Cox's Bazaar. The latter is a nerve center of all ISI operations in Greater Chittagong. Pakistani agents regularly visit and hold meetings there with Indian outfits like ULFA, NSCN-I/M, NLFT, and All Tripura Tiger Force.

 

The ISI's intelligence operations include provision of funds to political parties - Gholam Azam of JEI and Salahuddin Qader Choudhary of BNP are allegedly to have received huge amounts for fomenting agitations - and militant outfits on Bangladesh, India and Myanmar. It also organizes recruitment and dispatch of potential mujahideen from madrasas and the youth wings of JEI, Shibir, IOJ etc, for induction into Indian territory to create disturbances.

 

Even greater challenges for Indian security agencies

If Indian apprehensions are correct, the east and northeast may present even greater challenges for Indian security agencies than does insurgency in Kashmir. If reports of India having increased its strength along the border with Bangladesh are correct, it may mean that India is already conscious of the dangers represented by ISI networks and its ambitions in the area. Since Pakistan does not have a border with India in the east, India may not even be able to denounce this in the familiar terminology of cross-border terrorism.

((c) 2002 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd.

 

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