Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Highlights 17th May 2006



Indonesian security forces may have foiled terrorist attacks on last weekend’s summit of Muslim leaders and the famed Borobudur temple complex, the country’s police chief said. Gen Sutanto told parliament Monday that police received the information during interrogations of suspected militants arrested in last month’s raid on the hideout of Noordin Top, believed to be a key leader of the Al Qaeda-linked group Jemaah Islamiyah. “It could be the targets of their bombing was the D-8 (Developing Nations) meeting,” which brought together heads of state, prime ministers and government ministers from Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, Turkey, Malaysia, Egypt and Bangladesh, he said.Another possible target was a Buddhist religious ceremony held over the weekend at the ancient Borobudur temples in Central Java province, he told the parliament’s legislation commission.........More

By all means, have favourites, those whose political attitude matches ours, for example, Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh, the democratic opposition in Burma, the liberal politicians in Nepal, the moderate Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, and so on, but that cannot mean hostilities against Begum Khalida, or helping the Sri Lankan gunboats run out the LTTE, conspiring against Gyanendra. Until we get to a position to customise the neighbourhood environment, we have to exist and befriend all the elements, except those who threaten our internal order and integrity, the Maoists, for example, or even the LTTE. With them our actions must stamp our determination to protect our interests, what they do elsewhere should concern their own national governments more.....More


The US State Department apologised to Bangladesh's national carrier, Biman, after a flight was barred from landing at New York's JFK Airport at the weekend, an airline spokesman said. The flight from Dhaka with 257 passengers onboard was forced to divert and land in Montreal on Saturday after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) refused it entry into American airspace citing security reasons. "This was a mistake," Stephen C. Engelken, a director of the State Department's bureau of South and Central Asian affairs, told the Bangladesh embassy in Washington. Engelken also conveyed his "deep apology" for the discomfort caused to the passengers, according to a faxed message, a copy of which was seen. The airline said in a statement that it would seek compensation for the financial losses it suffered due to the FAA decision. The cash-strapped carrier SDAY said it had already decided to suspend its unprofitable route from Dhaka to New York, which loses 80,000 dollar each trip. Officials said the company was set to incur more losses in the current financial year because of increasing jet fuel prices and a jump in the cost of fleet maintenance......More

The government has in principle approved purchase of 28 main battle tanks (MBTs) worth Tk 448 crore for the army under a five-year procurement plan with Tk 90 crore to be spent in the next fiscal year, highly placed sources said. This procurement plan is in addition to the plan to upgrade the army's existing 232 old tanks under two projects. The upgrading will cost nearly Tk 1,000 crore. The government has primarily decided for a Tk 350 crore Chinese soft loan to finance one of the two projects while financing for the other project has not yet been decided. Side by side, Bangladesh Navy is also procuring two US-made maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) at a cost of Tk 130 crore. Singapore-based King Air is supplying these aircraft....More

Advocate Alena Khan, who led an investigation into Nasreen's death, filed a general diary (GD) with Tejgaon Police Station on Monday after three unknown people called on her cellphone and spoke incoherently and inconsistently. In the GD Alena, executive director of the Bangladesh Society for Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR), mentioned that the three unknown people called her from four different numbers which were unknown to her, police said. "The callers asked me about my whereabouts and wanted to meet me in person but as I asked them about the purpose of the meeting, they hung up". She said nobody answered the phone when calls were made to those numbers from her office. "Sensing something fishy I decided to file a GD on Monday evening," she added........More

Shipowners have been warned to be vigilant after a spate of pirate attacks in the Bangladeshi port of Chittagong, an international watchdog said.The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recorded at least 18 attacks since January 28 this year, the head of the Malaysia-based Piracy Reporting Centre, Noel Choong, told AFP on Tuesday. "Basically there have been 18 attacks in Chittagong since 28 January 2006, but we believe many more may have gone unreported," said Choong. "We believe that there are groups of pirates operating in the area. We are warning ships that enter the area to be extra vigilant. We are concerned about the high number of attacks in that location."........More

The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) arrested one person at the Khulna city on Sunday night and seized a CD and a catalogue on uses of uranium, basic element used in nuclear bombs, from his possession. Acting on a tip-off, the members of Rab-6 arrested Kartik Chandra Saha, 42, at a residential hotel in the city. He was allegedly looking for a buyer to sell the 14-page catalogue containing particulars about uses of uranium and the CD containing a recorded speech of some people on how and from where to get the highly explosive substance, sources said. Assistant Director of Rab-6 FM Badruzzaman lodged an FIR in Khulna Sadar Police Station the same night as complainant SI Rafique has been assigned to investigate the case. Kartik Saha hails from Mathurapur village under Satkhira Sadar upazila and is a shrimp trader by profession. He has fallen sick due to intense interrogation by Rab before being handed over to Khulna police. He will be further interrogated after being taken on remand, said the IO (investigation officer) of the case. Procurement of uranium and its use are not only banned in Bangladesh but all over the world.....More

Privacy advocates wonder how much the agency picks up - and stores. Many are increasingly skeptical of intelligence agencies with recent revelations about the Bush administration's surveillance on phone calls and e-mails.To think that an AMERICAN spy agency is spending time analyzing satellite photos of AMERICA!! We should really insist that they spend their time analyzing photos from Bangladesh or some other country that the White House has no direct obligation to defend from another September 11th-style attack.....More

The High Court (HC) yesterday issued a rule on the government to explain within two weeks why the arrest, detention and deportation of Bangladeshi origin US citizen Ehsanul Islam Sadequee to the United States would not be declared illegal.The court also issued the rule to show cause why the authorities concerned of the government should not be directed to produce Sadequee before the High Court bench. Following two writ petitions, one filed by Sadequee's wife Happy and another by Supreme Court advocate MK Hasan as Public Interest Litigation (PIL), a HC division bench issued the rule. Sadequee's wife filed the petition challenging the legality of her husband's arrest and handing over to US investigation department, the FBI.......More

A suffocating environment has apparently gripped the port city that is emerging out of tension, assumed confrontation and bloodshed over privatization of New Mooring Container Terminal (NMCT), an under construction yard of Chittagong Port Authority for handling of freights packed in containers. The assumed confrontation is the virtual outcome of personality clash between the Shipping Minister Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Akbar Hossain and Mayor of Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) Alhaj ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury.... It is learnt that a good number of dockworkers and employees of different industrial units in Chittagong backed by opposition political leaders and workers, are now finalising the strategy of enforcing the siege. Intelligence agencies reportedly cautioned the government of the sensitive issue that might receive public support and ignite violence.......More

Following press reports on India and Myanmar encroaching on gas blocks in Bangladesh’s maritime territory, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia summoned the advisor of the foreign ministry, Reaz Rahman, and the secretary of the ministry, Hemayetuddin, to ask them about the latest situation, said PMO sources. Asked to comment on the reported encroachment on our deepwater hydrocarbon exploration blocks by India and Myanmar, a top foreign ministry official said none of the three nations have yet demarcated the maritime boundary, and Bangladesh has been preparing its arguments to substantiate its claim. Bangladesh claims, according to the Law of the Sea, 12 nautical miles of territorial sea, 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone and 350 nautical miles of the continental shelf under the Bay of Bengal....More

China and Bangladeshi armies have vowed to step up their "productive" defence cooperation to safeguard regional and world peace. The two sides reached the conclusion when Chinese Defence Minister General Cao Gangchuan met with visiting Bangladeshi Army Chief of Staff Moeen U Ahmed. Noting that the two sides have forged effective cooperation in political, economic, military and cultural fields, Cao said the two nations share common interests in the promotion of regional and world peace and stability and in safeguarding the interests of the developing countries.The country has been allowed 10 years’ time to justify its claim since it ratified the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea in 2001.......More


The IB, RAW and Military Intelligence have warned off heightened ISI sponsored terrorist activities in north Kerala. The General Officer Commanding of the Army’s south zone has also warned off Islamic extremist activities in north Kerala. Now the centre and central intelligence have for the first time in the history of Kerala, warned off the Pak-based Hizbul Mujahideen threat to the State during or after the polls....The hobnobbing of the CPM and the Congress with the jehadi outfits and their supply of explosives for use against political opponents, especially RSS and BJP is creating dangerous consequences for the State. Probes into various terrorist activities by jehadis are being scuttled by the ruling Muslim League. A future CPM regime will be no better since it is courting jehadis like Madani with open arms. Top police, Army and IAS officials belonging to Kerala and having served in Jammu and Kashmir say that ruthless and tough actions and political will is needed to crush terrorism, otherwise it will be too late and Kerala may become another Jammu and Kashmir which is what the jehadis want. Will the Congress and the CPM wake up to the threat of jehadi terrorism and act strongly or will they soft-pedal for petty vote-bank politics? Perhaps only time will tell.......More

India's intermediate-range nuclear-capable Agni- III missile is technically ready for test-firing, according to the country's top defence scientist Sunday.'We are technically ready for the test-firing of the missile,' M Natarajan, scientific advisor the India's defence minister, said at a function in the capital presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, PTI news agency reported.'We are awaiting a nod from the government,' Natarajan said. The Agni-III missile, named after the Indian god of fire, is capable of hitting targets at a distance of 4,000 kilometres............More

India appeared hesitant on Tuesday to confirm or deny a senior scientist's claim that it was ready for the political signal to test a nuclear capable Agni III missile amid reports that US pressure had actually put the project in the cold store. At the heart of the official reluctance to speak clearly on the issue was a report in the Asian Age on Tuesday which quoted Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee as suggesting that India was not politically ready to test the missile that is said to have a range of over 3000 kms. 'As responsible members of the international community, we want to keep our international commitments on non-proliferation,' Mr Mukherjee had said on Monday. The newspaper quoting a source interpreted this to mean that the government has abandoned the programme. A fuller quote in the Age suggests further chaos. 'We have no pressure on us. Nor are we putting any political pressure. It is just that we have decided to have self-imposed restraint,' Mr Mukherjee had said. This brought the foreign ministry into the picture, whose spokesman, 'in response to a questio' on Tuesday left the issue just as vague........More

The state Director General of Police P.S. Pasricha pointing a finger at terrorists infiltrating Maharashtra from across Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, alleged that the police suspected a “foreign hand” behind the huge quantity of assault rifles and deadly RDX explosives seized three days ago in Aurangabad and Nasik districts......More


Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency — the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has voiced its opposition to the ongoing laying of the optical fibre link between India and Pakistan, saying Indian experts were capable of grabbing Pakistan’s vital and sensitive information through the link.....In the absence of signal intelligence, says the letter, the Indian intelligence networks will be able to deliver faster terror executions with more devastation. The letter says that the Intelligence Bureau also supports the contention of the ISI that the laying of the fibre link between the two nuclear armed neighbours could prove counter productive.......More

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked Pakistan to clarify after a Taliban commander claimed that Pakistani intelligence had a hand in the beheading of an Indian engineer in Afghanistan last month. Karzai's chief of staff, Jawed Ludin, said this week that the administration expected Islamabad to explain its position on the accusation that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) ordered the killing of K. Suryanarayana, a website quoted a report of Afghanistan's private Tolu TV network as saying. A Taliban commander told the TV network that Amir Khan Haqqani, identified as the military commander of Taliban fighters in Zabul province, opposed the killing of Suryanarayana, who was abducted by the Taliban in Zabul April 28, the website said........More

Yes I did serve as an Inter Services Intelligence (ISI- Government of Pakistan's CIA-FBI rolled into one) mole once, before we had differences of opinion and I was grabbed by Research and Analysis Wing (RAW- Government of India's equivalent of ISI.) But then with kids in college and the van needing new tires and a tune up job, I decided to become a double agent. It worked fine for a while before both ISI and Raw became leery. But by that time I...well, that is a story for some other time. Back to this list and my relief at not discovering temporal there.....More

Has President Bush agreed of Burma becoming an Autonomous Region of China?

The strategic landscape in Southeast Asia has begun to change in ways that demand a rethinking of US policy toward Burma. China's economic and military capabilities have grown dramatically at a time when China's traditional security concern, Russia, has faded. Japan remains a long-term, but not an immediate security problem for China. This has left China free, in geopolitical terms, to shift its attention to the south. The most striking manifestation of this development has been a very assertive policy toward the South China Sea; i.e., the entire sea and all the land outcroppings within it are claimed as Chinese sovereign territory. This has been accompanied by a number of statements from senior Chinese civilian and military officials that seem to presage a kind of Chinese Monroe Doctrine for South-east Asia-a modern reprise of the historic preponderance of the Middle Kingdom.....More

Suicide Terrorism: Hatred Comes Home to Roost

During the Afghan jihad, Pakistan funneled CIA money to some of the most radical Islamist paramilitaries (and even tried to sell them on suicide bombings); in 1992, the government switched clients and backed the Taliban, a relationship it maintained until 9/11. Pakistan’s religious right has also applauded suicide attacks by Muslim separatists in Indian-controlled Kashmir. Pakistan is the perfect case of the chickens coming home to roost. By contrast, the situation in nearby Bangladesh is a bit of a surprise. During the Muslim country’s war of independence from Pakistan, in 1971, local Islamists fought on the side of Islamabad - discrediting themselves in the eyes of many Bangladeshis for years to come. In fact, the government played down any notions of an Islamist problem until last August, when the previously banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) detonated over 450 salt shaker-sized bombs in a single day........More


The Israel Lobby

The Legal Concept of an Islamic State

The failed states Index and Pakistan

The End of Empires

Maoism and Marxism


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