Chittagong arms case: Nabbed Bangladeshi spies confess arms shipments to ULFA

May 22nd, 2009 - 2:42 pm ICT by ANI  

Dhaka, May 22 (ANI): Two former Bangladesh spy agency chiefs - Major General (retired) Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury and Brigadier General (retired) Abdur Rahim have reportedly told their interrogators that the huge cache of arms seized in Chittagong in April 2004 by security teams were meant for the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), an insurgent group operating in India’s northeast.

The two spies, who were nabbed on May 16, are in Dhaka for further questioning by their interrogators.

Unconfirmed reports said the two ex-army officers have also revealed the hand of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the arms siphoning operation.

Bangladesh’s New Age newspaper said the two former Bangladeshi Army generals, who oversaw the aborted operation, are still “tight-lipped” before their interrogators.

The daily claimed that ten truck-load of arms, purchased from China with the help of a United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based firm belonging to a Pakistani businessman, were brought on a ship owned by a lawmaker close to former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

The newspaper said the interrogators expect to get more information on the “involvement of foreign actors, including the embassy of a South Asian country and the Dubai-based business firm ARY (Aga Rahman Yusuf) Group owned by a Pakistani national and allegedly financed by an intelligence agency (read ISI).”

Quoting arrested former National Security Intelligence (NSI) director (security) Wing Commander (retired) Sahabuddin’s confessional statement, public prosecutor Kamaluddin told The Daily Star that Brigadier General (retired) Abdur Rahim held several meetings with ARY group representatives in both Dubai and Dhaka.

The Zia government suppressed the arms haul case, but the caretaker government that ruled during 2007-08 revived it.

All Bangladesh dailies have reported the fact that intelligence personnel have raided the Banani home of Brigadier General (retired) Rahim and seized “valuable documents” related to the Chittagong arms haul. The raid was conducted in Rahim’s presence.

Criminal Investigation Department sources, thereafter confirmed Rahim’s arrival in Dhaka from the Chittagong jail by road under police escort.

Major General (retired) Rezzaqul Haider, the other detained ex-NSI chief accused in the case, will be taken to TFI cell in Dhaka, said CID Chittagong divisional Special Superintendent of Police Mohammad Muslim.

Both the former NSI bosses were placed on a six-day fresh remand each on Wednesday.

Sources said during the interrogation at TFI cell the investigators would focus on extracting information regarding the origin, destination, buyers and financers of the 10 truckloads of arms and ammunition hauled at the jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Company Ltd (CUFL) in the early hours of April 2, 2004.

They said after the latest arrest of four NSI men including the two former chiefs and CUFL managing director and general manager (admin) the number of accused in the case rose to 51, including one deceased. Investigators have so far interrogated 43 of them.

Apart from the two ex-NSI chiefs and one former director, others are accused of helping transportation of the illegal consignment. So, they did not have any knowledge about the suppliers and buyers of the arms and ammunition.

But, being the then NSI chief, Rahim would surely be able to give details on everything and identify everyone involved in the smuggling, sources said.

Rahim and Rezzaqul were arrested on May 16 at their residences in Dhaka following the confessional statement of former NSI director (security) Wing Commander (retired) Sahabuddin made before a Chittagong court on May 15. In his statement, Sahab implicated the former NSI chiefs.

The CID arrested Rahim at his residence at DOHS and Rezakul at his Dhanmondi house in Dhaka.

The Chittagong arms haul case refers to police seizing 4,930 different types of firearms, 27,020 grenades, 840 rocket launchers, 300 accessories of rocket launchers, 2,000 grenade launching tubes, 6,392 magazines and 11,40,520 bullets, when the weapons and ammunition.

They were being loaded on 10 trucks from two engine boats at the jetty of Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Limited on April 2, 2004.

The case, filed with the Karnaphuli police station. (ANI)

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