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Media reports accuse Govt of helping militants

Sections of the media have accused the government of shielding the 'real culprits' within the army and the administration.

india Updated: Mar 28, 2006 15:17 IST

In the wake of the drive against terrorism in Bangladesh, sections of the media have accused the government of shielding the "real culprits" within the army and the administration who supplied arms and explosives to militants.

In a hard-hitting editorial, The Bangladesh Observer said the government, having "declared" an end to militancy, has been "complacent" about the role of the banks, including semi-government Sonali Bank who has been "keeping militants' money".

The role of the Islami Bank, which now has among the highest turnovers, has also been questioned.

"One only has to remember that it is not only Islami Bank that was involved with keeping militants' money, other banks were also involved. How could Sonali Bank, the quasi-state bank be involved in handling militant money?

"It is also surprising that nobody from the other banks have been arrested or interrogated, so far. All this sounds very fishy," the paper said.

The New Nation reported that Sheikh Abdur Rahman, Siddiqul Islam, alias Bangla Bhai, and other militants arrested earlier this month have not been cooperating with their interrogators and have given names of those in the government saying: "you ask them, they will give you more information".

"According to the confession of the two kingpins there are many more in the country dedicated to jehad. And there is no evidence that the militants' network has been broken for good. Many of the cadres are still around and so are the huge sources of fund. Almost nothing has been done to stop the dirty money from flowing into Bangladesh," the Observer said.

Quoting former Bangladesh Army chief Lt Gen. Mustafizur Rahman, it said the explosives and ammunition recovered were not available in the open market and were only accessible to "professional people". They could have only come from "rogue elements in the army engaged in black marketing".

It pointed out: "The explosives that were used in the various operations, till date, fall into two categories. One, the RDX variety and two, the "arges" grenades. It is understood the JMB has been using the first type... who has been using the second variety? So far there has been no trace of it.

"Yet, former prime minister and current leader of the opposition Sheikh Hasina was attacked with arges grenade. Former finance minister Shah A.M.S. Kibria was killed with the same type of grenades... On the face of it, it seems they must have come from the same source."

The paper said the top militants were mujahideen in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet war.

"The list of Afghan war veterans in Bangladesh is also pretty long. The government can only ignore their activities at the peril of the country. People trained in warfare and on the loose is a strong cocktail for subversion.

"Had the government taken note of the activities of the Afghan veterans there would have been no JMB or Harkat ul Jihad (HUJI) today," the report said.

"It is fully possible that Islamic militancy may re-emerge under a different name if the finances, arms and patrons are not nabbed," the paper warned.