Nabbed official tried to send arms to militants in India: Dhaka

May 4th, 2009 - 11:59 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, May 4 (IANS) Bangladesh authorities have nabbed a former senior official of the National Security Intelligence (NSI) agency and charged him with providing transport and equipment for an illegal arms consignment meant for militants in India’s northeastern region.
Sahab Uddin’s arrest Sunday followed a confessional statement by NSI’s field officer Akbar Hossain Khan who is being questioned for his role in the off-loading of a large arms cache that arrived in Chittagong April 2, 2004.

The consignment was stored at the warehouse of a state sector firm, allegedly for transporting it across the Bangladesh-India border.

The aborted attempt to smuggle arms had hit media headlines and caused concern in Dhaka and New Delhi. Then government of prime minister Khaleda Zia denied any role.

India has for long complained that militants from its northeastern region operate from Bangladeshi soil to carry out their attacks. Dhaka denies the charge.

Sahab Uddin, a wing commander of Bangladesh Air Force who joined the NSI on deputation, took voluntary retirement soon after the arms haul, The Daily star newspaper said Monday.

Sahab Uddin was taken to Chittagong, the port town in southern Bangladesh, Sunday to be presented before a court.

Khan, in a confessional statement before a magistrate Saturday, said he hired seven trucks and a crane from Greenways, a transport agency, for carrying the arms and ammunition on orders of Sahab Uddin.

In the seven-page confessional statement to Metropolitan Magistrate Mahbubur Rahman, Khan said the trucks were supposed to carry the consignment up to Moulvibazar border while the crane was required for offloading those at Chittagong Urea Fertiliser Company Ltd (CUFL) jetty.

Khan said he sensed that the trucks and crane were needed to offload and carry something illegal but he could not imagine that it might be a huge consignment of illegal firearms and ammunition, the newspaper said quoting unnamed CID sources who cited the confessional statement.

Media reports have said the source of the arms and ammunition was not known. But they were transported in a vessel belonging to a private shipping company owned by Salahuddin Qader Choudhury, a confidante of Zia and a senior lawmaker belonging to her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

NSI is one of the five top organisations engaged in intelligence work in Bangladesh and is known to be concerned with domestic intelligence.

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