Bangladesh Nationalist Party secretly hosted Al Qaeda kingpin Ayman al-Zawahiri for months


Ultra-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secretly hosted a group of Al Qaeda, which was headed by Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri, for months in the country’s Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Dhaka cities. Security agencies as well as media outlets throughout the Western nations were either unaware or remained totally tight-lipped on this shocking and alarming incident.

It is essential to note that BNP has a history of harboring anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Western sentiments. This ultra-Islamist party has been on record, setting fire to the American flag and chanting slogans like “Death to America” or “We shall become Taliban, Bangla [Bangladesh] will be Afghan”.

In a deeply concerning move, during the 2001-2006 rule of the BNP government, BNP even named a bridge ‘Hezbollah’ as a “mark of honor”, openly expressing their support for the Lebanese resistance group, Hezbollah, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization. BNP government’s junior communications minister Salahuddin Ahmed told French news agency AFP, “I named the bridge Hezbollah because of our love for the Lebanese resistance group. Hezbollah is the only group which is fighting Israel and the bridge is named after the group as a mark of honor”.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s hosting Al Qaeda group including Ayman al-Zawahiri was first exposed by eminent journalist and counterterrorism expert Alex Perry, who in a TIME magazine article on April 14, 2002 had exposed Al Qaeda kingpin al-Zawahiri and other members of the terrorist group’s arrival and stay in Bangladesh.

According to him, on December 21, 2001 “five motor launches ferry in large groups of men from the boat wearing black turbans, long beards and traditional Islamic salwar kameez. Their towering height suggested these travelers were foreigners, and the boxes of ammunition and the AK-47s slung across their shoulders helped sketch a sinister picture”.

A senior member of Bangladesh’s largest terrorist group, the 2,000-strong al-Qaeda-allied Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), told TIME the 150 men who entered Bangladesh that night were Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan. Three senior Bangladeshi military sources also confirmed this case to TIME magazine.

Alex Perry further wrote: “The arrival of a large al-Qaeda group in the capital Dhaka that night raises pressing concerns that Bangladesh may have become a dangerous new front in America’s war on terror. Indeed, one Bangladeshi newspaper last month even quoted an unnamed foreign embassy in Dhaka as saying Osama bin Laden’s No. 2, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, had been hiding out in the country for months after arriving in Chittagong. (Last week, in an audio message that authorities have tentatively authenticated, al-Zawahiri warned of further attacks against the US, vowing that it will not go “unpunished for its crimes”). According to a source inside a Bangladeshi Islamic group with close ties to al-Qaeda, al-Zawahiri arrived in Dhaka in early March and stayed briefly in the compound of a local fundamentalist leader. It’s unclear how al-Zawahiri came to be in Bangladesh, or whether he’s still there. However, a source in the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), a Bangladeshi military intelligence agency, told TIME that al-Zawahiri is believed to have left Bangladesh this summer, crossing over the eastern border into Burma with Rohingya rebels…

According to a source, al-Zawahiri even visited Dhaka and met several leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party while at the instruction of some influential figures of the party Zawahiri was housed at a high-secured property at Dhaka’s Gulshan area, which is owned by an intelligence agency. During his stay in Dhaka, Zawahiri had meetings with Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, a war-criminal and asset of Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), while Brig Gen Abdur Rahim, then Director General of the National Security Intelligence (NSI) has carried a fruit basket, kebabs and bread on behalf of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman.

Following publication of Alex Perry’s article, journalist Bertil Lintner in another article in South Asia Terrorism Portal wrote: “…While Bangladesh is yet far from becoming another Pakistan, Islamist forces are no doubt on the rise, and extremist influence is growing, especially in the countryside. According to a foreign diplomat in Dhaka, “In the 1960s and 1970s, it was the leftists who were seen as incorruptible purists. Today, the role model for many young men in rural areas is the dedicated Islamic cleric with his skull cap, flowing robes and beard”.

It may be mentioned here that BNP has been termed Tier-III terrorist organization by US courts, while its acting chairman Tarique Rahman is a convicted terrorist who has been living in the United Kingdom since 2007. With BNP’s past record of maintaining relations with Al Qaeda and its recently launched “India Out” campaign that reciprocates similar activities in Maldives, this party can pose a serious security threat to the region once it involves global terrorist outfits in its ongoing anti-India activities.


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