Interpol’s removal of convicted terrorist’s name raises concerns


The shocking removal of Tarique Rahman’s name from Interpol’s Red Notice has caused alarm within the global security community. Rahman, a prominent Bangladeshi politician and acting chairman of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), had been convicted in absentia for his alleged involvement in various criminal activities, including a significant incident in 2004.

Rahman has been residing in London since 2007 as a fugitive and has managed to evade authorities since his escape from Bangladesh. His conviction relates to his association with the tragic bombing on August 21, 2004, which targeted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the ruling Awami League, who was leader of the opposition at the time. The attack, carried out by individuals linked to the BNP and the extremist organization Harkat-ul-Jihad (HuJI), resulted in the loss of 24 innocent lives and numerous injuries. The August 21 grenade attacks targeting Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the Founding Father of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is considered as one of the most heinous terrorist attacks targeting a leading political party. One of the key agendas behind this attempt was to wipe-out Sheikh Hasina and Awami League mainly for the “crimes” of upholding secularism and denouncing religious extremism and militancy. It the eyes of BNP, its ideological ally Jamaat-e-Islami and Islamist forces in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina and Awami League are seen as a party giving priority to ensuring rights of religious minorities – particularly Hindus and Christians.

The court’s verdict in August 21 terrorist attack case held Tarique Rahman responsible as the alleged mastermind behind the attack, leading to his subsequent conviction and a life sentence. Tarique Rahman has also been handed life sentence in another case where he and key leaders of his party were held responsible for sending weapons and explosives to United Liberation Front of Assom (ULFA) – an insurgency outfit inside India.

Former Deputy Director General of India’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Major General Gaganjit Singh, revealed Rahman’s alleged involvement in the 2004 arms haul in Chittagong. The objective of the arms haul was to supply rebel groups in India’s northeast, including organizations like the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), with the aim of fomenting instability in the region.

In 2015, Interpol took action by issuing a Red Notice for Tarique Rahman prior to his conviction on terrorism-related charges in Bangladesh. However, the removal of his name from the Red Notice list before the court’s verdict has raised legitimate concerns about the transparency and effectiveness of international law enforcement agencies.

On November 3, 2008, US Ambassador in Bangladesh, James F. Moriarty, sent a confidential cable (Canonical ID 08DHAKA1143_a) to the Secretary of State, requesting the suspension of Tarique Rahman’s entry into the United States. In the cable, Ambassador Moriarty highlighted Rahman’s alleged involvement in egregious political corruption that had seriously affected US national interests, including the stability of democratic institutions and US foreign assistance goals. It is worth noting that the request did not apply to Rahman’s wife, Dr. Zubaida Rahman, their daughter, Zaima Rahman, or his mother, Begum Khaleda Zia, a former Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

Ambassador Moriarty described Tarique Rahman as the notorious and widely feared son of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, known for his frequent demands for bribes in connection with government procurement actions and political appointments. Rahman was considered a symbol of corrupt governance and violent politics in Bangladesh. The ambassador also alleged that Rahman had accumulated illicit wealth amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. Multiple extortion cases were pending against him, supported by the testimony of numerous prominent business owners who had been victimized and exploited.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), founded by General Ziaur Rahman in 1977, has faced accusations of persecuting religious minorities, including Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and Ahmadis. The party’s focus on transforming secular Bangladesh into an Islamic republic has drawn criticism for its discriminatory practices.

Overall, the removal of Tarique Rahman’s name from Interpol’s Red Notice has sparked concerns about the credibility and effectiveness of international law enforcement efforts. The case highlights the importance of transparency and cooperation among global security agencies in addressing terrorism and transnational crime.


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