Wednesday, March 14, 2012

SAUDI DIPLOMAT’S MURDER : Wild speculations in global media

Bangladesh police may not have a clue as to who’d killed a Saudi diplomat in Dhaka on March 6, but much of the Western media suspects the incident as a clandestine cloak and dagger crime linked with the geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East.
The 45 year old Khalaf Mohamamd S. Al Ali, a second secretary at the Royal Saudi Embassy in Dhaka, was shot dead shortly after midnight last Tuesday, only yards away from his Gulshan residence.
Ali, who lived a lonely life at his apartment, is learnt to have ventured out for a stroll in the dead of the night. 

While returning home, he was shot by a gunman from a fast-moving car. The victim succumbed to his death three hours later at a local hospital.

Murder and mayhem rock Bangladesh on and off, and, the law and order situation has deteriorated alarmingly in recent months. High profiled assassinations have also intensified lately. In February, a journalist couple was murdered in their bedrooms but police failed as yet to unearth any motive for that crime. 
It is, however, for the first time a foreign diplomat faced the wrath of Dhaka’s unruly ruffians who are often seen hobnobbing with and protected by influential quarters. 
What has emerged with some degree of certainty is that the assassin is a professional hand with proven marksmanship trademark. The forensic report indicated that a single bullet pierced through the sensitive left part of Ali’s chest and hit his kidney, causing excessive bleeding.
“If the killing is not deemed a street crime, speculation could turn to Iran, which has been blamed for other international attacks as it struggles against Saudi Arabia for dominance in the Middle East,” opined the CBS news. 
Bangladesh being an unlikely venue for waging a geopolitical battle between the West and Iran, the wild speculations in the major media outlets in the West that the crime may be linked with the geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East needs exhaustive probing. For, there is no certainty that it may not be related to the Mid-East politics. 
In 2011, the U.S. government accused Iranian agents of being part of a foiled plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the USA. Early  this year, Israel accused Iran of attacks on its diplomats in India, Thailand and Georgia. The politically motivated cloak and dagger machination being rampant and all pervading, all the clues must be chased and probed. Iran is aggrieved by the Israeli and Western-sponsored murder of a number of its nuclear scientists.
Besides, despite the regime in Tehran trashing all the accusations as baseless, there seems to be an emerging pattern that is becoming harder to overlook.
In May 2011, a flurry of feral speculations mushroomed after the killing of another Saudi diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan. Pakistani police said they suspected that the ‘shooting was motivated by anger over Saudi Arabia’s decision to send troops to Bahrain’ where the majority Shiites strove to usher in an Arab Spring to rid themselves of the dynastic rule by a Sunni minority-led monarchy. In the USA and Canada, a number of media reports reasoned that Saudi Arabia’s recent talk about arming Syrian rebels has irked Tehran, which is allied with the embattled Syrian leader, Bashar Assad. The Dhaka murder could be linked to that broader equation, the reports claimed.
Curiously, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) laced its report with a bilateral component of friction between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. The paper said, “In October, relations between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh were strained after Saudi authorities beheaded eight Bangladeshi workers convicted of robbing and killing an Egyptian man.”  Bangladesh did have reason to be angry by that incident due to the Amnesty International’s strong condemnation of the executions – and the Saudi court proceedings – as falling ‘far short of international standards for fair trial,’ but it’s foolhardy to presume that the regime in Dhaka carries any grudge against Saudi Arabia.
For long a major destination of expatriate Bangladeshi workers, Saudi Arabia employs over 2 million Bangladeshis, mostly in low-paid menial avocations. Besides, the aggrieved families of the executed Bangladeshi workers have no ability to hire professional killers to target a high ranking Saudi diplomat for revenge. The Saudi government had, meanwhile, demanded quick results from the Bangladesh government and requested ‘adequate protection for all the staff working at its embassy in Dhaka,’ reports the Arab News. 
Hard pressed, police did file a case 34 hours after the incident at the Gulshan police station, but ‘no suspect was named’, said Mohammad Zabed Masud, a sub inspector at Gulshan police station.  
Deeply embarrassed, the government of Bangladesh expressed regrets for the incident and promised to bring the killer to justice. State minister for home affairs, Shamsul Hoque Tuku, said, “Police were investigating the murder.” 
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said, “What has happened is very unfortunate and unexpected in this country.” Moni added, “We have ordered police to conduct a fair investigation so we can take proper actions against the culprits.” 
Saudi Ambassador in Dhaka, Abdullah Al-Busairi, described the incident as a ‘great tragedy’ while Bangladesh Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Shahidul Islam, said it was a heinous crime that sent shock waves throughout the Kingdom as well as Bangladesh. “We have intensified the investigation process in Dhaka and we are fully confident that the people involved in this murder will be brought to book,” Islam assured.
Meanwhile, another confusing shred of speculations linked the killing with the victim’s alleged role in aiding some of the arrested accused of the ongoing war crime trial in Bangladesh. One source said the slain diplomat ‘has aided a team of Al-Jazeera TV crews to have access to and interview one of the main accused of the war crime trial.”
Whatever the motive of the crime may be, relations between the Muslim nations of Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are unlikely to be impacted negatively by this aberrational incident.( 

BY : M. Shahidul Islam.