Major Zia used UK mobile SIM to talk to officers
One of the main suspects of the recent coup attempt in the army, Maj Syed Mohammad Ziaul Haque, who is absconding, used a roaming UK mobile SIM card to speak about the plot with at least 11 army officers of different ranks, army sources said.
He also used hi-tech software to operate on the internet through his laptop, said the sources adding that his detailed bio-data along with his photo has been sent to different cantonments and other law enforcement agencies to track him down.
A senior official in the army told The Daily Star yesterday that Zia, a former student of the Military Institute of Science and Technology, is very intelligent and an expert in information technology, and that is why it has been hard for the authorities to trace him.
He was commissioned as an army officer through the 41 long course of Bangladesh Military Academy.
Zia had long telephone conversations with some mid-ranking and junior officers at different cantonments and tried to inspire them to move towards Dhaka with their forces to make the plot successful on the night of Jan 10 or 11, the sources said.
Army investigators found involvement of Zia, who hails from Mostafapur village of Moulvibazar district, while interrogating Lt Col (retd) Ehsan Yusuf after his arrest on December 15 from his Matikata residence near Dhaka Cantonment along with his laptop.
Another suspect Maj (retd) Zakir is also currently detained.
The suspected planners of the coup attempt were propagating among some army officers establishment of Islamic rule in the country by toppling the incumbent elected government, the sources said.
They also planned to make senior army officers ministers of their government if their plot became successful, the sources added.
Army investigators are now trying to unearth the detail of the plan.
The army on Thursday said it foiled a "coup attempt to overthrow the present democratic government".
A band of religious fanatics, comprising mid-ranking officers and their retired colleagues, was involved in the failed putsch, Brig Gen Muhammad Mashud Razzaq said at a press briefing.
At the instigation of some non-resident Bangladeshis, they sought to "disrupt democracy by creating anarchy in the army, cashing in on the fanaticism of others", said an army statement.
Father of Zia, Syed Zillul Haque, a businessman, told The Daily Star over the phone last night that he was urging his son, through the media, to report to his senior officers immediately to show respect to the army and the law of the country. "None including my son is above the motherland and its law," he said from his Baridhara DOHS residence in the capital.
Zillul claimed that he has no contact with Zia since December 23 last year. He said many people wanted to know about Zia's whereabouts but he does not know.
He said Zia used to be a moderate practicing Muslim, but he submerged himself in hardline religiosity after his first wife died of cancer. Asked whether he believes Zia was involved in the plot against the army and the government, Zillul said he could not say for sure until he talks to his son.
The army sources said Maj Zia had been absent from work for 21 days once without any permission. Back then his unprofessional behaviour was forgiven because he is a recipient of the sword of honour.