Friday, January 20, 2012

Bangladesh security agency smash coup conspiracy

SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH SECURITY agencies have unearthed a conspiracy to overthrow the anti-Islamist government of Shiekh Hasina.

In a rare press conference hurriedly organized by the Bangladesh Army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) at it’s headquarter in the capital Dhaka on Thursday, said that they do not rule out any possibility of international links and foreign involvement in the foiled coup plot.

The statement read out by Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq claimed that some 14 – 16 former and in-service radical Muslim mid-level officers were involved in the conspiracy to topple a democratic government and install a hardliner Islamist regime.

Brig. Gen. Razzaq said retired Lieutenant Colonel Ehsan Yusuf and Major Zakir were placed under arrest on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government and that they "admitted their role in the plot".

However, the mastermind of the coup Major Syed Mohammad Ziaul Huq (a.k.a. Major Zia) remains a fugitive. The renegade officer has links to banned Islamist terror network Hizb ut-Tahrir, the spokesperson claimed.

The conspiracy came into surface on Dec. 26 and intelligence and security agencies kept the suspects of the coup plotters under surveillance and found that the fugitive officer maintained contacts with other disgruntled army officers by mobile phones, emails and social media Facebook.

Finally on January 10 – 11, Maj, Zia contacted the collaborators through mobile phones. The renegades wanted to know details of the execution of coup d’état and the suspected mastermind repeatedly urged to execute the plan, which flopped.

The spokesperson did not deny of any foreign country or international network’s involvement in the conspiracy. He said nothing can be dismissed, but quickly said to wait for the inquiry report.

Brig. Gen. Razzaq said after the probe, tough measures would be taken against the renegades. The suspects are being hunted and asked them to surrender.

Hasina’s father, Shiekh Mujibur Rahman, the pro-independence hero was assassinated in a military putsch in 1975, when her family members were also killed. Meanwhile, the security of the prime minister has been beefed up.

The news broke at the time when the pro-independence government after 40 years have began the trial of Islamist leaders for crime against humanity during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Hours after the army had gone public about a bid to topple the Sheikh Hasina led coalition government, a senior minister Syed Ashraful Islam and general secretary of ruling Awami League said public representatives must continue to call the shots and that the rule of law must be upheld.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes on Islamic terrorism, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile from Canada after return of democracy. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com