Sunday, May 21, 2006

Highlights 21st May 2006



Today, the Washington Times ran a report that publicizes a threat known for some time to Western intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This is the threat posed by radical Islamic Jihadis from Europe who infiltrated into Iraq to fight with al-Qaeda forces there who are now beginning to return to their Euro-homelands. These combat experienced and battle-hardened terrorist veterans, estimated to be at least in the high hundreds, who not only possess violent extremist Islamic radicalization but European citizenship, will prove to be a major challenge to the security forces of Europe. There is surely no reason to believe these hardened Jihadi fighters will leave their violent ways behind in Iraq.....More
"ClA-supported Mujahedeen rebels … engaged heavily in drug trafficking while fighting against the Soviet-supported government," writes historian William Blum. "The Agency’s principal client was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, one of the leading druglords and a leading heroin refiner. CIA-supplied trucks and mules, which had carried arms into Afghanistan, were used to transport opium to laboratories along the Afghan/Pakistan border. The output provided up to one half of the heroin used annually in the United States and three-quarters of that used in Western Europe. U.S. officials admitted in 1990 that they had failed to investigate or take action against the drug operation because of a desire not to offend their Pakistani and Afghan allies," and also because selling heroin and spreading misery is highly profitable. In fact, the Soviets attempted to impose an opium ban on the country and this resulted in a revolt by tribal groups eventually exploited by the CIA and Pakistan....More


Bangladesh has threatened to scrap all gas supply agreements with India if it takes its gas pipeline from Myanmar via Mizoram, but the government is going ahead. Bangladesh which has been unable to overcome internal opposition to be a supplier to India hoped for a royalty and share from the Myanmar pipeline and believed it was Indian posturing to consider the alternate Mizoram route. The secondary Mizoram route was thought high cost and terrain unfriendly, but French consultants say it could meet Indian needs and be built within a time frame.....More

Law and order has sharply deteriorated over the last few months in the capital and elsewhere, and the trend is continuing despite instructions from State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar to Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) to contain it. Babar himself recently acknowledged the rise in criminal activities and expressed concern to reporters. Sources in the intelligence agencies said gangmen in the absence of their leaders have formed small groups to carry out crimes to make their position and role felt ahead of the election. Top criminals, who reportedly enjoy the blessings of some ruling alliance leaders, are directing their associates from outside the country. Local teenage youths, who are not on the police list of criminals, get involved in killing, toll collecting, abduction, mugging and other forms of criminal activities, police sources said. Reports of intelligence agencies said such crimes may increase in the days to come.....More

In an after hours telephone call, Bangladesh Home Minister Lutfuzzamen informed Bangladesh journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury that the government will frame the sedition charge against him at his May 23 trial. Framing the charge is the first step in proceeding to try Choudhury for sedition, a capital offense. Previously, the government has equivocated about its intentions regarding Choudhury, at times assuring US lawmakers and others that they would arrange for the charges to be dropped. Babar’s call was the first time they admitted their intention to proceed with the sedition trial. On several occasions, Babar, Bangladesh Ambassador to Washington Shamsher M. Chowdhury, and other Bangladesh officials have admitted that there is no basis for the charges against Choudhury. In a 2005 meeting, Chowdhury told US Congressman Mark Kirk that the entire matter was “a purely personal financial dispute.” In that same meeting, Kirk and this reporter challenged Chowdhury to explain why the government continued to hold the journalist and charge him with a capital offense for “a purely personal financial dispute.” The ambassador agreed that the detention was unjust and promised to see that Choudhury was freed on bail; which he was on April 30, 2005, after 17 months in a Dhaka jail.....More

Bangladeshi intelligence agencies arrested Badruddoza Chowdhury Momen, owner of BD Foods, a company exporting ‘spices’ to Western destinations, for trafficking huge amount of heroin which were packed inside the sachets of spices. On interrogation, Badruddoza confessed to the interrogators that he has smuggled out narcotics worth few hundred million dollars to United States and Europe since 2003......BD Foods Chairman has claimed that a top-level leader and member of parliament of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh helped him smuggle several consignments of ‘illegal goods’ to the United Kingdom. He said, in 2005, his company smuggled 75 kilograms of heroin to United Kingdom and also claimed that another Jamaat leader made efforts to save him from the smuggling charges the police brought after four months of investigation......Meanwhile, owners of vernacular daily Naya Diganta has applied for broadcast license to establish a private television channel named Diganta TV. Bangladesh government is actively considering the proposal for giving license to this group to begin an Islamist television channel. Meanwhile, brother of Prime Minister, Major (Retired) Sayeed Iskander has got the broadcast license of Islamic TV, which goes on air in July. Earlier several radical leaders applied for the license of Voice of Islam, another TV channel, which is also awaiting approval in the ministry. It is observed that, Islamist radicals are giving emphasis on media by establishing several newspapers and television channels, with the objective of giving support to Islamist revolution in the country.......More

Stepping in last year to run the government-sanctioned site was an obscure group by the name, Project Hope and Harmony, which landed (in partnership with nonprofit Reston Interfaith) the $200,000 contract. The man behind the project is Muslim activist Mukit Hossain. But he's not just any activist. Born in Bangladesh, Hossain also runs a shadowy Muslim charity in Herndon which recently had its accounts closed by Wachovia bank due to suspicious activity related to possible money-laundering. The Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help, or FAITH, received a $150,000 donation last year from a front group run by Saudi bagman M. Yacub Mirza, whose home and offices were raided by federal agents after 9/11. FAITH helped establish the Project Hope and Harmony.....More

UN forces in Democratic Republic of Congo have launched an assault on an eastern militia in a bid to bolster security two months ahead of national elections. Escorted by attack helicopters and armoured vehicles, around 1,000 Bangladeshi, Pakistani and South African UN peacekeepers along with 3,000 Congolese soldiers launched the operation on Saturday. The attack aims at retaking the town of Tchei in Ituri district, where militia violence has killed tens of thousands since 1999....More


The Myanmarese news website 'Mizzima News' reported that
Indian troops have moved into the Indo-Burmese border region of Moreh.
India and Myanmar have had a very good military relationship with Myanmar helping India with tackling border insurgencies. About 50 Indian military trucks believed to be carrying weapons crossed the border into Burma last Thursday, according to eyewitnesses. "Five trucks full of soldiers followed the 50 trucks," a resident in Moreh said. The backs of the trucks were reportedly covered with plastic sheets. The Burmese embassy in India refused to comment on what the trucks were carrying....More

One in every 12 'high risk' individuals for the global banking system is an Indian. Over 121,000 Indians have been categorised as high-risk individuals in global anti-money laundering (AML) databases. The number could go up further as newer individuals get identified by various agencies. These Indians are among the 1.4 million people listed as risk entities from across the world. The database gets updated daily with about 25,000 records getting added on average every month.'This should not sound sensational as India is the second-most populated country and one in every seven persons in the world is an Indian,' said the CEO of a foreign bank operating in India.The AML database is compiled by the IntegraScreen Group, a Singapore-based company having research centres in Mumbai, Beijing, Amman, Penang and Shenzhen.....More

Following the recent visit of President Bush to India the Indian Government sees it as a politic time to launch legal proceedings against one of its spies who, after working as a double agent for the CIA for several years, fled to America on 14 May 2004. This man is Rabinder Singh who rose to the senior position of head of the Southeast Asia branch of India’s Research and Analysis Wing RAW (equivalent to the CIA). Singh initially fled to Nepal and then to the US, allegedly using an American passport provided by his American "handlers" to whom he had been passing secrets. Singh is a Sihk – a religious minority within India (perhaps his loyalty to that Hindu dominated country was weak). He is apparently a counter-terrorism specialist. Why would the CIA wish to “run” Singh (ie. persuade him to work for them)? The US would find some value in Indian reporting he could deliver on terrorism (particularly from Indian sources in Pakistan and Afghanistan) and in Southeast Asia. Singh could provide a detailed picture of the structure and personalities specifically within RAW and within the Indian intelligence community generally....More

India has responded with diplomatic equanimity to Pope Benedict XVI's seemingly provocative remarks condemning attempts to ban religious conversion in certain states. The pope had told India’s new ambassador to the Vatican, Amitava Tripathi, on Thursday that the country should "firmly reject" attempts "to legislate clearly discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental right to religious freedom". He had also taken note of the "disturbing signs of religious intolerance which had troubled some regions of the nation".....
It was the pope's second declaration this week in defence of religious freedom in countries where Christians are a minority. In India, the statement comes in the backdrop of Rajasthan planning to become the sixth state to enact the anti-conversion law the pope was referring to.
Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Orissa already have laws that bar conversions but allow re-conversions to Hinduism. Jharkhand has declared its intention to enact a similar law......More

The Tamil Tigers are a mass nationalist movement with "liberated territory," a full-scale army and even a tiny navy; moreover, 20,000 Tiger cadres received secret paramilitary training in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu from 1983 to 1987, courtesy of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and India's CIA -- the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). But such sponsorship literally blew up in the face of the Indian Congress Party leadership when Indira's son and successor Rajiv was killed by a female Tiger suicide bomber in 1993. Indeed, the all-too-frequent pattern of surrogate terrorism, whether sponsored by the CIA, RAW, or the KGB, has been "return to sender" -- most notoriously in the cases of those former CIA "assets," blind Sheik Rahman and Osama bin Laden....A History of the Car Bomb

The United States has said that it is ready to assist India in tackling militancy in the country's Northeast. At a press conference, Henry V Jardine, the US Consul General in Kolkata, said that Washington has offered cooperation in this regard, keeping in mind the existing strategic relationship between the two countries. "The government of India is trying to address that and trying to deal with these groups here and to what extent the US can help, I think we would try to help.” “We have a very close cooperation and a growing strategic relationship with India. “One of the things that we have done recently here, I think we are here for the last couple of years, we have done joint training exercise in Mizoram at the jungle war fare training center,” he said....More

The Assam Government is considering the release of at least five jailed top separatist leaders of Assam to facilitate a frontline rebel group which could begin direct peace talks with New Delhi, a state official said on Saturday. The new Congress-led coalition government in the state has intimated New Delhi that there were no problems in releasing some of the jailed leaders of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) for the sake of peace, said an Assam government spokesperson. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi also confirmed the same. "We have no problems in releasing the jailed ULFA leaders and the formalities are on in this regard to secure their release," Gogoi said. "We have recommended their release following views sought from us by the central government.".....More

Maoist rebels have opposed the setting up of steel plants by Tata Steel and Essar Steel in Chhattisgarh's impoverished but iron ore rich Bastar region, saying capitalists had no role to play there.
The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) said in a press statement that tribespeople had ownership rights on land, water, forest and other natural assets. The Bastar region is divided into three districts - Kanker, Bastar and Dantewada, the last being the worst hit by rebel activity. Steel major Tata Steel struck a deal with the state government in June last year for setting up a five-million tonne per annum integrated steel plant in Bastar with Rs.100 billion investment....More


The world’s last Hindu kingdom is no more. Nepal has become a secular state and the king a tax-payer. Nepal’s parliament today approved a sweeping plan to strip King Gyanendra (in picture), considered the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and the institution of monarchy of military and political powers. The historic move signals the end of the supremacy of the Shah dynasty that has ruled the country for the last 237 years.....More


A Bangladeshi national, the main accused in last year’s Shramjeevi Express blast that claimed 12 lives, has confessed that Pakistan’s ISI was running terrorist camp in Bangladesh. A six-member team of officers is trying to elicit information from Obaid-ur-Rehman, member of the banned Bangladeshi outfit Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islamia, who is in police remand till May 22, police said on Friday.
They said Rehman has also given certain information regarding terrorist camps running in Bangladesh. Police have called experts of Bangla language to interrogate Rehman, Superintendent of Police Sanjiv Gupta said Rehman, a native of Sherupur district in Bangladesh, was associated with the banned outfit.
The bomb explosion took place on the Delhi-bound Shramjeevi Express near Raja Harpal Singh railway station here on July 28 last year, leaving 12 people dead and scores injured....

President General Pervez Musharraf has rejected the old notion of using Afghanistan as a "strategic depth" in case of any aggression, and said the theory is based on the assumption a country has been invaded and overrun and its government is operating from other countries.
"This can never happen to Pakistan," the president said, and added that according to the country's military strategy its defences lie in its borders.
"We will never let our enemies enter our areas," General Musharraf told Pashto TV Kheyber in an interview aired on Friday. On the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, the president said no one knew where he was and "those who say he is in Pakistan should come up with information and intelligence."
Saying Osama could be anywhere in the world, the president however, presumed that he could be hiding in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.....More

Either by way of a concession to men, or because women are less likely to be enemy agents, or merely in order to conform to the general pattern of gender inequality in the country,
the law apparently allows a foreign woman married to a Pakistani man to acquire Pakistani citizenship but when a Pakistani woman marries a man from another country he is not allowed Pakistani citizenship.
An attempt to change the law is about to flounder against the resistance of the interior ministry and the intelligence agencies. According to a newspaper report, the interior ministry, supported by three intelligence agencies, has cited a number of reasons for its opposition.
This will allow other countries to “plant their agents” in the country; enable “illegal immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries to naturalise themselves”; raise unemployment in the country by an increased “influx of immigrants”; and “provide legal ingress to Indian male citizens into Pakistan”
. Such marriages, it seems, threaten to open a Pandora’s box and put an end to the happy life as we now know it......More


Blogger Pete's Blog said...

Hi Mac

Looks like a good summary - including the one about India and its former resident Mr Singh :)

Hope you visit often.



May 21, 2006  

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