12:00 AM, September 16, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 16, 2011


DGFI became militants' buddy

Amin tried to blackmail Hasina

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Reaz Ahmad and Shakhawat Liton

Brigadier General ATM Amin, a director of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) then, told a US diplomat on July 19, 2007 that they had infiltrated Harkatul Jihad al Islami, Bangladesh (Huji-B) and they “don't see them attacking western interests".
And, a year later, when DGFI helped this militant outfit's senior members form a political group called Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), Amin attempted to blackmail Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and pressed her to convince the US government to support IDP, according to leaked US diplomatic cables.
It was because of Amin's meddling with the affairs of militants and many other important national issues during post-1/11 days, the then DGFI chief Major General Golam Mohammad in late 2008 had to apologise to US diplomat James F Moriarty and assure him that IDP would not be registered with the Election Commission.
In a meeting on November 12, 2008, Moriarty, the then US ambassador in Dhaka, warned Golam Mohammad that his government vehemently opposed the creation of IDP, formed by senior Huji-B members with DGFI support.
Some of the US diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks have many disjointed but interesting descriptions of how Hasina was pressurised to seek US blessings for a militant group turned so-called political party whose members were linked to past attempts to assassinate her.
The US envoy informed the DGFI director general about the October 30, 2008 meeting in Washington between Hasina and Richard Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for south and central Asian affairs.
Hasina in the meet told Boucher that Brig Gen Amin had requested her to urge the US government to support the registration of IDP, Moriarty confided to Golam Mohammad.
"She [Hasina] believed IDP members were linked to past attempts to assassinate her and other Awami League leaders. Understandably, Hasina was uncomfortable trumpeting the cause of IDP with the Election Commission or the USG [US government]," says a November 17, 2008 cable.
Furthermore, the AL president resented attempts to blackmail her by Amin, who acted as mediator between Hasina and the caretaker regime during her imprisonment in 2007-2008. However, details of blackmailing Hasina were unavailable in the cables.
Hasina did not want to see IDP registered and suspected Amin was acting on his own and without the approval of the Caretaker Government or his uniformed superiors.
After coming to power through the December 2008 parliamentary polls, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her displeasure with DGFI for its role in IDP formation.
Appointing Maj Gen Mollah Fazle Akbar as the director general of the military intelligence agency in February 2009, the PM told him that “under no circumstance” was DGFI to politically or financially support Islamic militant groups as had been the case when Huji-B members floated the DGFI-backed Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) in late 2008, Moriarty in a cable quoted Akbar as saying at a meeting on May 11, 2009.
During the November 12 meeting, Moriarty also informed Golam Mohammad the then army chief General Moeen U Ahmed in a conversation with him on November 8, 2008 interceded to help block the IDP registration.
Mohammad agreed when Moriarty pointed out that Amin's actions appeared to undercut Moeen's efforts. Mohammad speculated that Moeen was likely unaware of Amin's discussions with Hasina and his continued efforts on behalf of IDP.
The cable notes the DGFI chief knew IDP had resubmitted a revised constitution to the EC on November 11, 2008 in the hope that the EC would register the party.
Golam Mohammad also reaffirmed that DGFI and Bangladesh government agreed with Moriarty's assessment of IDP and promised to speak with the army chief and EC to ensure the party was not registered.
Moriarty reminded Mohammad that a number of IDP members had continued ties with terrorist groups, specifically Huji-B.
The US envoy argued that allowing the IDP to continue as a political entity would be a mistake unless Bangladesh government established well-defined condition. Such condition were akin to "lines in the sand" regarding the expectations and tolerance of Bangladesh government with respect to IDP activities.
Maj Gen Mohammad agreed with the ambassador's argument and explained that he initially supported Amin's theory of bringing Huji-B members into the fold through the establishment of IDP or some other type of political organisation.
Mohammad rationalised that in doing so the Bangladeshi intelligence and security services could monitor and co-opt IDP leaders and arrest those Huji-B members that remained outside of the political process.
Mohammad admitted that while the theory was sound in practice the idea of IDP failed and he now viewed the party in the same light as the ambassador.
Mohammad sought the ambassador's guidance on the best course of action to take with IDP and other Huji-B reformers who wanted to take a more moderate stance and integrate themselves into the Bangladesh political system if establishment of the IDP was not an option.
Moriarty wrote in his comment, "Mohammad and others in the GOB [including the caretaker advisers] have all professed shock at Amin's actions and have distanced themselves from his attempts to support the IDP. We will continue to press DGFI and others within the GOB to come up with a better strategy for dealing with Huji-B."
A July 19, 2007 cable notes, in a meeting with then US charge d'affaires Geeta Pasi, DGFI director Amin had dismissed threats from Huji-B, saying "We have infiltrated Huji-B and we don't see them attacking western interests.”
As for the members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), he said, “We have remnants of them surrendering."
Amin was very upbeat about Bangladesh's success in defusing the issue of domestic terrorist group Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
"We are currently conducting surrender negotiations which could include an amnesty and social rehabilitation program."
As for Zadid al-Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for the explosion of three small bombs in May 2007, Amin downplayed any future threat from the group claiming that they "were really a social problem," and the attacks may have had a personal motive.

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