‘Pakistan-Bangladesh militant nexus smuggling grenades to India’

February 19th, 2008 - 3:22 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, Feb 19 (IANS) A cache of 41 live grenades recovered from an Islamist outfit over the weekend in Bangladesh’s south western Satkhira district was to be smuggled into India, a Dhaka newspaper said Tuesday. The Daily Star newspaper quoted an unnamed intelligence official as saying a nexus of Bangladeshi and Pakistani militant organisations is supplying explosives to Islamist militant outfits in India.

It said the investigation and statement of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) leaders arrested with the grenades suggested that Pakistan-based militant organisations had sent several consignments of grenades to Bangladesh.

“The ultimate destination of the grenades is the Indian Islamist militants,” the official was quoted as saying.

HUJI’s top leader Mufti Hannan had dispatched the grenades across the country through his network to carry out terror attacks, he added.

The official also suspected that a huge cache of grenades and firearms seized from Chittagong on April 2, 2004 had a destination other than a place in Bangladesh.

The newspaper quoted Jane’s Intelligence Review (JIR), a leading defence magazine worldwide, that in an investigative report on the April 2 arms haul said the shipment involved two key insurgent movements from India’s northeast - the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Isak-Muivah faction of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM).

India has, in recent months, alleged that the explosives found after bomb blasts in Hyderabad and Bangalore last year were traced to Bangladeshi militants working in collaboration with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

Bangladesh has denied the charge and sought evidence, deprecating Indian accusations and media reports as being based on hearsay.

Along with smuggling to India, there has also been an influx of explosives and grenades from India’s northeastern region into Bangladesh, according to the Bangladeshi official.

He said that Bangladesh’s banned Islamist groups have been using “personal contacts” to get grenades from militant groups operating in India’s northeastern region.

Bangladeshi intelligence officials suspect that militants, particularly those of the banned HUJI, smuggled in the Arges brand of grenades “and local criminals collected some of 36-MHE brand from separatists in India using their personal connection”, the newspaper said.

Intelligence agencies strongly suspect a large number of grenades are being kept hidden in places across the country as they have made seizures of abandoned grenades or arrested militants with them.

In the last five years, the law enforcers have seized about 130 grenades, most of which were found abandoned.

Bangladeshi authorities have been working on leads provided by nabbed militants and have linked the seizure of grenades to those used to attack a rally that former prime minister Sheikh Hasina addressed four years ago.

Moulana Tajuddin supplied grenades for the Aug 21, 2004 attack when 23 Awami League leaders were killed and hundreds injured.

Tajuddin is the brother of a former deputy minister in the Khaleda Zia government of 2001-2006, Abdus Salam Pintu, who is now detained in connection with the August 2004 grenade attack case.

Tajuddin is also a member of Pakistan-based militant organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the intelligence official said.

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