Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Saudi diplomat’s killing puts Bangladesh in a tight spot

THE killing of a Saudi diplomat at Gulshan early Tuesday is more than a poignant pointer to dismal law and order situation in the capital Dhaka as elsewhere in the country; it has put Bangladesh in delicate position as regards its relations with Saudi Arabia. According to a report front-paged in New Age, Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem Ali, head of citizen affairs at the Saudi embassy in Dhaka, was found shot in his chest a few yards away from his residence at about 12:50am, rushed to a city hospital at about 1:15am and was declared dead at about 5:15am. The operation officer of the Gulshan police station quoted the security guard of the nearby Portuguese consulate as saying that ‘he heard a gunshot at around 1:00am Tuesday and immediately saw a white car speed away.’ The incident provides a chilling reminder of the dismal state of law and order. After all, the killing took place in a locality which is just a stone’s throw away from the diplomatic enclave where security is supposed to remain heightened round the clock, round the year.

Most importantly, the killing of the Saudi diplomat could have serious ramification with Bangladesh’s relations with Saudi Arabia, which has been strained for different reasons in recent times. Suffice it to say, manpower export to Saudi Arabia has already marked a significant decline and the global financial crisis and economic recession may not have been the only reason contributing to the decline. Bangladesh certainly cannot afford a further dip in manpower export to Saudi Arabia and thus in remittance earning — which, along with earnings from apparel export, props the economy — given the fact that all other economic indicators have not been quite auspicious in recent times. While, according to the Bangladesh ambassador in Riyadh, the Saudi deputy minister for protocol has assured the Bangladesh government that the incident would have no impact on the relations between the two countries, such assurance appears predicated on how Riyadh perceives Dhaka’s response to its request for a ‘full investigation’ into the killing, in the days to come.

As such, there is hardly any room for the technicalities as to whether Khalaf was a ‘diplomat’, as claimed by the Saudi embassy in Dhaka, or a ‘non-diplomatic staff’, according to the foreign ministry records. Just as the foreign ministry director said in an official statement Tuesday evening, ‘regardless of the status of Mr Ali’, the government needs to be ‘determined to bring the perpetrators of the killing at the earliest.’ The investigators, meanwhile, need to keep in mind that the killing may have regional and international dimension to it. It is a standard practice in murder investigation to determine the motive, i.e. who stands to benefit most from it. If the killing were to further strain Dhaka-Riyadh relations and result in Saudi Arabia suspending recruitment of Bangladeshi workers, India and Pakistan would surely be benefited. The investigators need to take this aspect into account.

Overall, there is also very little margin for error in the investigation and the case needs to be resolved — the sooner the better — because it is not just a question of ensuring justice but also protecting the already wobbly economy from yet more blows.


Bin Laden WAS NOT buried at sea, but flown to the U.S. for cremation at secret location, claims intelligence boss in leaked email

  • Emails purported to be obtained by hacker group Anonymous dispute White House version of terror leader's final resting place
  • Believed to be part of 2.7million emails obtained from intelligence analysis group Stratfor and shared with WikiLeaks
  • Stratfor calls hackers 'thieves' and says some emails may have been forged or altered
  • Revelations come as FBI arrests key members of hacking group LulzSec, an offshoot of Anonymous
The fate of Osama bin Laden's remains have been called into question after emails leaked from an intelligence analysis firm say the body of the terror leader was actually sent to the U.S. for cremation

According to the emails, the Al Qaeda boss was shot and killed during the famous Navy SEAL Team Six raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, was transported back to the U.S. and cremated.

The emails were allegedly obtained by the hacker group Anonymous from Stratfor, an organisation dealing with analysis of intelligence and geopolitical analysis.
It's also known as the 'Shadow CIA'. 

Last week, Anonymous announced that it had gotten access to 2.7million of the firm’s confidential correspondences, and said they could provide 'the smoking gun for a number of crimes'.

The hackers said Stratfor, based in Austin, Texas, were 'clueless' when it came to database security.

After bin Laden was killed in the famous raid in Pakistan on May 2 2011, the Obama administration said his body was buried at sea off the USS Carl Vinson - in accordance with Islamic tradition.

But in a particular set of emails given to WikiLeaks, the firm’s vice president for intelligence, Fred Burton, says he doubts the official White House version of what happened to bin Laden's body.

Stratfor’s vice-president for intelligence, Fred Burton, says the body was 'bound for Dover, [Delaware] on [a] CIA plane' and 'onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda [Maryland]'.

Burial: After bin Laden was killed, the Obama administration said his body was buried at sea off the USS Carl Vinson, pictured here, in accordance with Islamic tradition

The claims are sure to stoke conspiracy theorists, especially since the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology that Burton refers to closed its doors on September 15, 2011, four months after bin Laden's death.

In another email, Burton said: 'If body dumped at sea, which I doubt, the touch is very Adolph Eichman like. The Tribe did the same thing with the Nazi's ashes'.

'Eichmann was seen alive for many months on trial before being sentenced to death and executed. No one wanted a monument to him so they cremated him.'

Stratfor CEO George Friedman responded: ‘But i dont know anyone who claimed he wasnt eicjhman [sic]. No comparison with suddenly burying him at sea without any chance to view him which i doubt happened [sic]'. 

Final resting place? Leaked emails say Osama bin Laden's body was transported to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Maryland,' which closed its doors on September 15, 2011

In a February 27 statement, Stratfor said: In December, thieves compromised Stratfor's data systems and stole a large number of company emails, along with other private information of Stratfor readers, subscribers and employees. Those stolen emails apparently will be published by Wikileaks. This is a deplorable, unfortunate - and illegal - breach of privacy.

On TV: Bin Laden is shown watching himself on television in this video frame grab released by the U.S. Pentagon May 7, 2011, six days after his death

'Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them.

Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.'

Stratfor, which is not affiliated with the U.S. government, would not comment further.

The emails were revealed as it was reported that a members of LulzSec an offshoot of Anonymous, were arrested by the FBI.

An agency official told Fox News that the arrests were 'devastating' blow to the organisation, saying: 'We’re chopping off the head of LulzSec.'

The 'Adolph Eichman' referred to by Burton was a Nazi lieutenant and a major architect of the Holocaust.

Viewing the raid: President Obama and his key staffers watch the Navy SEAL mission at Osama bin Laden's compound in this White House photo

After World War II ended in 1945, he was caught by U.S. forces, and he slipped through America's fingers when he gave them a phony name.

He wound up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he lived for years until he was captured by the Israeli spy agency the Mossad in 1960.

War crimes and crimes against humanity were among the charges he faced when he was found guilty in an Israeli court in 1962.

He was hanged, cremated, and his ashes were later spread over the Mediterranean Sea.


Emails purportedly leaked from the intelligence analysis firm Stratfor make mention of Adolph Eichmann, a Nazi lieutenant and a major figure of World War II.

Eichmann, pictured above, is known as a major architect of the Holocaust. 

After World War II ended in 1945, he was caught by U.S. forces, and escaped custody after he gave them a phony name.

Eichmann fled to Italy, where he was able to obtain a humanitarian passport.
By 1950, he was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he lived for years until he was captured by the Israeli spy agency the Mossad in 1960.

War crimes and crimes against humanity were among the charges he faced when he was found guilty in an Israeli court in 1962.

He was hanged, cremated, and his ashes were spread over the Mediterranean Sea.

Breivik charged with terror attacks

Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to killing 77 people and injuring 151 in Norway, has been formally charged with committing acts of terror. 

Defence lawyers went to his prison near the capital, Oslo, to present their client with the charges.
Prosecutors have indicated they consider Breivik mentally ill and will seek to have him committed to psychiatric care rather than jailed.

Breivik is expected to go on trial on 16 April.

He has been charged under a paragraph in Norway's anti-terror law that refers to violent acts intended to disrupt key government functions or spread fears in the population.

"The defendant has committed highly serious crimes of a dimension we have no previous experience with in our society in modern times," prosecutor Svein Holden told reporters in Oslo. 

'Delusional universe'
If convicted, Breivik faces a maximum penalty of 21 years in prison.

The prosecution said last week it was prepared to accept Breivik was criminally insane and therefore not responsible for his acts, and as such it might not call for a prison sentence.

However, it reserved the right to alter that view if new elements emerged about his mental health by the end of the trial.

"The way the case appears at the time the charges are being brought, there is no basis to request a regular prison penalty," state prosecutor Tor-Aksel Busch wrote in instructions to prosecutors handling the case.

"But it must be clear in the charge sheet that the prosecution reserves the right, during the trial, to request a prison punishment or containment lasting 21 years, based on the complete evidence shown to the court."
Medical experts have been divided over Breivik's state of mind. 

An analysis by court-appointed psychiatrists last year found that he was insane, on the basis of 13 interviews with the prisoner.

Their report said Breivik lived in his "own delusional universe where all his thoughts and acts are guided by his delusions". 

However, four psychiatrists who subsequently assessed Breivik disagreed with several of their court-appointed colleagues' conclusions. 

In findings revealed in January, they argued that Breivik was neither psychotic nor schizophrenic and said they did not think he needed drugs.

Twin attacks 
The attacks on 22 July last year were the worst act of violence Norway has seen since World War II, and have had a profound impact there.

Breivik disguised himself as a police officer to plant a car bomb that exploded close to government offices in Oslo, killing eight people.

Still in uniform, he then drove to the island of Utoeya, where a summer youth camp of Norway's governing Labour Party was being held.

In a shooting spree that lasted more than an hour, he killed 69 people - mostly teenagers.

Breivik has said his attacks were atrocious but necessary for his campaign to defend Europe against a Muslim invasion.

March 7 speech comes alive again!

The historic March 7 is here again to remind the countrymen of the day when Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the decisive battle against the repressive Pakistani occupation forces.

On this day in 1971, Sheikh Mujib, in a fiery and inspiring speech delivered at one of the biggest rallies in the country's history at Dhaka's Race Course Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan), had given the final call for the liberation movement.

At the historic gathering, Bangabandhu's words — "Ebarer sangram amader muktir sangram, ebarer sangram swadhinatar sangram (this time, the struggle is for our freedom, for our independence)" — touched the very hearts of 70 million Bengalees.

Declaring a war against the Pakistani forces, he said: "Since we have sacrificed blood, we will sacrifice more. We will definitely liberate the country, Insha-Allah… Turn every house into a fort and counter (the enemy) with whatever you have."

His March 7 speech inspired people from all walks of life to prepare for the 'final assault'.

Eighteen days after his remarkable speech to the nation, the Pakistani army launched 'Operation Searchlight' over the unarmed Bengalees.

Responding to his call, people of the then East Pakistan took up arms to fight the Pakistani army through a nine-month bloody war that finally heralded the birth of Bangladesh as an independent nation.


The ruling Awami League is all set to observe the historical day in a different manner, as the party's another main agenda, alongside observing the day, would be to showcase its organising strength only days ahead of the opposition BNP's much-hyped Mar 12 grand rally.

The party is set to stage a 'mass rally', led by Awami League president and Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina, in the capital on the day. This is first time that Hasina will be joining any procession since she took the office of the prime minister this time round.

The rally is scheduled to begin from Suhrawardy Udyan at 3pm Wednesday. Hasina will address a pre-procession gathering there before inaugurating the rally.

Awami League has already completed all its preparations to make the rally a success.

Party joint general secretary Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif told that all pro-liberation forces have already been asked to join the rally.

He said, "Besides Awami League's central leaders, party MPs, Dhaka metropolitan unit, district units of Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Manikganj, Gazipur, Narsinghdi and other affiliated organisations are working hand-in-hand to ensure a great success for the rally."

                                        'HOPE OF MILLIONS TO JOIN THE RALLY'

A joint meeting, presided over by party chief Sheikh Hasina, took place on Saturday to take stock of the preparations ahead of the rally.

Party's central executive council members, MPs of the Dhaka constituencies, leaders of affiliated organisations and leaders of Dhaka metropolitan unit and district units of Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Manikganj, Gazipur and Narsinghdi had also attended the meeting.

Hasina told the meeting that colourful processions from every ward of the metropolis should join the rally.

Another similar meeting had taken last Wednesday at the party headquarters.

Metropolitan unit organising secretary Shah Alam Murad told that their goal is to gather people from all the wards as well as unions of the capital.

A hopeful Murad said, "Not only of the city unit, leaders and activists of our affiliated organisations and district units will also join the rally."

Meanwhile, leaders and activists of Juba League, student front of the ruling party, have also been told to be present at the party headquarters at Bangabandhu Avenue within 12pm. They are supposed to be positioned at Suhrawardy Udyan and the surrounding area within 2pm.

They would be in red, green and yellow T-shirts in the mass rally.

However, Shwechchasebak League general secretary Pankaj Debnath told they would be taking out processions from all thana areas to converge at Suhrawardy Udyan before noon.


President Mohammad Zillur Rahman and prime minister Sheikh Hasina have issued separate messages underlining the historic significance of the day.

The president in his message on Tuesday said the 'Golden Bengal', the long-cherished dream of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu, is yet to come true, as "the nation is continuously fighting against hunger, poverty, superstitions and the adverse effects of global climate change..."

The prime minister's message read, "That historic speech of March 7 is one of the best political speeches. The magical speech of March 7 had united the entire nation. We should promise now that we will also reach our desired goal by uniting ourselves in the same way."

Apart from the party's mass rally, the ruling party has also made elaborate arrangements to observe the historic day.

The party would begin the day with hoisting national and party flags at 6.30am at the Bangabandhu Avenue-located party's central office and Bangabandhu Museum. Paying of respect at Sheikh Mujib's mural at Bangabandhu Museum at Dhanmondi-32 will start at 7am.

Bangladesh Betar (government radio), Bangladesh Television and several other private television channels have also announced special programmes highlighting the significance of the day.