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Daily Star, Dhaka, Bangladesh
17 April, 2001
Plot to assassinate Sheikh Hasina?
Western and other intelligence agencies have alerted Bangladesh about a
conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, The Sunday Times of
the leading Times of India group said in a lead story on Sunday.
Some former Bangladesh army officers, responsible for the 1975 coup that
killed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, met at a small Dutch town last
month to give final shape to a plot that aimed to set off a string of bomb
blasts in Bangladesh with one culminating in an attack on Sheikh Hasina, the
newspaper said in an exclusive story.
Giving detailed accounts of the plot, the daily quoting western and other
intelligence sources said one colonel of Pakistan's Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI) was present at the meeting that took place at a
Bangladeshi restaurant in Breda in Southern Holland.
"This Pakistani colonel's conversation with his boss back in Karachi has been
intercepted. The meeting's purpose is now clear. The Pakistanis are backing a
fresh attempt by the Mujib-killers to kill Sheikh Hasina," the daily reported
quoting intelligence sources.
The paper said since late 2000, the Dutch and another western intelligence
agency have been watching a Bangladeshi restaurant at Breda. The restaurant
is owned by AK Mohiuddin, one of the accused in the assassination of
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Until 1996, Mohiuddin worked in the Bangladesh embassy at The Hague. But after
Sheikh Hasina came to power, Mohiuddin went underground, sources said.
"He set up a restaurant at Breda and that soon became a meeting ground for
those former army officers who were involved in the killing of Sheikh Mujib,"
the newspaper quoted a Bangladeshi official, who knows Mohiuddin, as saying.
According to the paper, Indian intelligence says Dutch and other agents have
picked up details of a secret meeting at Mohiuddin's restaurant on March 7
this year. Colonel Rashid and some of his associates of the 1975 coup were
present at the meeting.
Also present was one colonel of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Shoaib
Nasir (possibly a pseudonym), said the paper adding one western intelligence
agency has taped his (Mohiuddin's) conversation with ISI's Deputy Director
General (Operations) Brigadier Riaz on March 9.
The newspaper report said the interception suggested that Nasir had been to
the Breda meeting where a plan to "hit" Sheikh Hasina had been finalised.
Riaz was keen to find out whether a mercenary based in Central Europe,
apparently assigned to "hit" Sheikh Hasina, was happy with the advance
payment offered, to which Nasir said "aur paise chahta hai (more money would
The interception indicated that Colonel Khondakar Abdur Rashid, the prime
accused of the 1975 coup (since been convicted and sentenced to death) and
now at large, chaired the meeting at Breda.
At least six other accused of Mujib assassination case attended the meeting
along with two Jamaat-e-Islami leaders from Dhaka, the newspaper quoted the
sources as saying.
The arrest of the Pakistani diplomat Arshad Cheema at Kathmandu with sixteen
kilos of explosives and the explosion at Ramna in Dhaka on Saturday in which
at least 9 people were killed have heightened Bangladesh's desperation to
foil the ISI plot, it said.
"The explosion at Ramna may be a dry run," intelligence analysts here said.
"It would be aimed at creating panic before the elections which would give
credence to the opposition's charge about poor law and order conditions under
the Awami League government, but it could also be a way to test the level of
alert of Bangladesh's security ring around its key politicians in power," an
intelligence official was quoted as saying.
The paper also said Bangladesh has requested the INTERPOL to identify the
Europe-based mercenary, who, according to one Western intelligence source, is
Abu Hamid who "hits if he gets the right price."
The Western intelligence sources have been on Hamid's trail ever since he
killed one of their officer in Vienna four years ago. When they recently
picked up reports about his reported liaison with the Mujib-killers and the
ISI, they promptly reported it to the Indian agency, which informed the
Since Sheikh Hasina became Prime Minister, Bangladesh's relations with
Pakistan has steadily worsened. Pakistan's chief executive General Pervez
Musharraf is upset with her repeated snubs and particularly with the
expulsion of the Pakistani deputy high commissioner Irfan Raja after the
diplomat had made "humiliating references" to the Bangladesh Liberation War,
The Sunday Times said.
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