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Ex-Bangla intel chief confirms ISI link to 2004 ULFA arms haul

By Anisur Rahman in Dhaka
June 15, 2009 13:10 IST
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A long-suspected nexus between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and insurgent groups active in India's northeast have come to light with detained former Bangladesh intelligence chief confirming Islamabad's spy agency's link to the sensational supply of arms to the United Liberation Front of Asom in 2004.

The former director of Bangladesh's intelligence agency and a key suspect in the country's biggest ever arms haul case has confirmed that ISI was involved in the aborted smuggling of weapons believed to be destined to the ULFA hideouts in northeast India, a media report said on Monday.

Retired Wing Commander Shahabuddin, an ex-director of the National Security Intelligence told investigators that detained suspects of the haul had several talks with ISI officials working with Pakistan's High Commission in Dhaka, Pratham Olo said quoting officials familiar to the probe. Shahabuddin was remanded last week for the second time to the custody of security agencies, who said they desired further clarifications on the foreign link."There is nothing new in his statement as he was interrogated again in our custody, but he clarified some sensitive issues which were unclear until now," an unnamed official said.

Another ex-chief of NSI, retired Brigadier General Abdur Rahim, who is also in the custody of security agencies had earlier also revealed the ISI link to the case. The arrested NSI officials had allegedly played a key role alongside some police officials in the planned transportation of 10 truckloads of weapons from Bangladesh's southeastern port city of Chittagong to Assam but law enforcement agencies seized the arms in 2004 on their arrival.

Rahim and another detained official had told interrogators and that Dubai-based ARY business group and Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence were involved in the case. The past military-backed government of chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed ordered a reinvestigation last year amid allegations that there was a deliberate attempt on the part of the then Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government to suppress facts in the case. Rahim and his successor in the NSI, retired major general Rezzakul Haider Chowdhury and three other officials of the intelligence agency were arrested and quizzed in custody as part of the investigation into the case.

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Anisur Rahman in Dhaka
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