Some politicians helped Lashkar put down roots | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, August 10, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 10, 2009

Some politicians helped Lashkar put down roots

Investigators learned about the patrons following 2 key captures

Besides the local chapter of Huji, some political leaders have been helping Pakistan-based militant organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) to operate in Bangladesh.
Investigators learned about the political patrons from two recently-detained LeT operatives and Indian nationals--Mufti Obaidullah and Moulana Mohammad Mansur Ali.
They are now working to gather more about them, said sources in the intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Officials involved in the ongoing crackdown on militants said they have information that some politicians might have been sheltering LeT cadres as per secret deals with the terrorist group.
Though law enforcers had detained several LeT operatives in the past, they formally admitted the outfit's existence here only last month after the Detective Branch of police arrested Obaidullah and Mansur.
Before that, they had been denying reports about foreign militants ensconced in the country.
A former investigator of the Rapid Action Battalion told these correspondents earlier that they had come to know about the existence of LeT and at least seven of its political patrons in Bangladesh during the last BNP-Jamaat-led government rule.
But they could not carry the investigation through as they had limitations with the four-party alliance in power.
Sources said investigators are confirmed that banned Islamist outfit Harkatul-Jihad-al Islami, Bangladesh, has all along been backing LeT operations here.
The local political links became a focus of the investigation after names of some political leaders came up during interrogations of the detained Lashkar men.
DB Deputy Commissioner Monirul Islam who leads the agency's drive against militancy said, “We are now verifying the information and names we've got from the detained Lashkar leaders."
He, however, would not say anything about identity of the political leaders suspected of aiding and abetting LeT in Bangladesh.
Sources close to DB say some of the suspects are local level leaders of a political party and some are quite prominent at national level.
Investigators would also examine if any of the political patrons of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh are involved in any foreign militant organisation like LeT.
The law enforcers hope they will be able to make headway towards unearthing the LeT's political patrons once they capture some other Lashkar men in the country.
Mufti Obaidullah and Moulana Mansur meantime disclosed that their organisation has been active in Bangladesh for the last 14 years.
They also said local LeT operatives have links to the network of absconding Indian underworld don Daud Ibrahim and Huji Bangladesh leaders.
Both the detainees had been teaching at local madrasas since their illegal entrance to Bangladesh in 1995.
"Obaidullah had been organising Bangladeshi youths for jihad on instructions from Ameer Reza, an Indian holed up in Pakistan," DMP Commissioner AKM Shahidul Haque told newsmen after Obaidullah's arrest.
Talking to reporters while being paraded before the media, Obaidullah said four other most wanted Indians are also hiding in Bangladesh.
Following up information obtained from him, DB police arrested LeT leader Mansur Ali from Dakkhin Khan area in the capital on July 22.
Mansur told reporters at the DMP headquarters that he had close relations with local Huji top brass including Mufti Hannan, Abdur Rouf, Abu Taher and Sheikh Abdus Salam.

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