Are terror groups finding a haven in Bangladesh?

Police have uncovered South Asian terror operatives in the country. Reports allege that Bangladeshi and Pakistani intelligence services are involved.

A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

Osama bin Laden may be laying low in Pakistan. But many of South Asia's terrorists have a new hideout: Bangladesh.

In recent days, Bangladeshi police have been hot on the trail of disturbing developments: they've uncovered a plot that used Bangladesh to transit thousands of weapons to an Indian separatist group, and followed up by arresting key members of that group in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, reports The Times of India.

Around the same time, police arrested a fugitive hit man working for Daud Ibrahim, one of South Asia's most notorious terrorists. While in custody, the assassin divulged that 150 of Mr. Ibrahim's operatives are stationed in Bangladesh, according to The Daily Star, a leading English-language newspaper based in Dhaka.

Ibrahim's network is said to span Al-Qaeda, Bollywood, and the organized crime world of Dubai. India authorities blame him for masterminding several bomb attacks inside India, according to Foreign Policy.


The news is deeply unsettling for Bangladesh, a poor, Muslim-majority nation of 150 million that is struggling to put democracy back into place following two years of military-backed rule, according to BDNews24, a Bangladeshi news service:

Local government minister Syed Asharful Islam said ... Bangladesh would face the fate of Pakistan if the country was not prepared to tackle the growing spate of terrorism.
Talking to reporters in the capital he said Bangladesh needed to work seriously to tackle the issue since terrorism is a global phenomenon....

Ashraful's remarks echoed US ambassador James F Moriarty's comment that Bangladesh still faced threat of militancy.
About terrorism, Moriarty said at a Meet the Press at Dhaka Reporters Unity that recent seizure of weapons in Bhola and continued arrest of suspected ... militants demonstrate that "terrorism remains a concern" in the country.
He said Washington got "disturbing indications" of terrorist threat in Bangladesh."

The arms case is particularly disturbing because of the alleged role of Bangladesh's intelligence service. The Daily Star reports that two former intelligence chiefs have admitted to collusion in the deal, which consisted of more than 20,000 grenades. The arms were intended for the Indian separatist group United Liberation Front of Assam, or ULFA.

The Indian Express newspaper has also pointed out that Pakistan's security service, the ISI, was allegedly involved:

Retired Wing Commander Shahabuddin, an ex-director of the National Security Intelligence told investigators that detained suspects of the haul had several talks with ISI officials working with Pakistan's High Commission in Dhaka, Pratham Olo said quoting officials familiar to the probe.

The revelations are shocking because they have confirmed allegations that India has leveled at Bangladesh for years, says Diganta Sarkar, a blogger originally from West Bengal in India, on his blog The New Horizon.

India has long been accusing that Bangladesh has been used for anti-Indian activities, especially with ULFA. Bangladesh has so far denied all these. However, if this confession statement is true, the allegations would be difficult to deny. [Bangladeshi Prime Minister] Sheikh Hasina has promised the countrymen that they will free Bangladesh from any traces of terror. If she is sincere to her promise, ULFA is going to face tough time ahead. As we can see, the ball-game has already changed.
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