or Insincerity, that is the Question...
US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Christina
Rocca, wanted to know about the mandate and terms of reference
for FBI consultants in a telephone conversation with FM M
Morshed Khan while responding to a Bangladesh request for
US assistance in the January 27 Habiganj carnage. She stressed
that the team have access to all the evidence, witnesses and
relevant documents to ensure a meaningful investigation. The
newly appointed US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in
her telephone talk on February 1 with PM Khaleda Zia also
hoped to see an "open and transparent" probe into
the Habiganj incident. This implies that the FBI team that
investigated the August 21 mayhem wasn't allowed full access
to everything concerning the grenade attacks. But what was
the point in seeking FBI's assistance and then denying them
things they needed to do the job properly? The Home ministry
certainly owes the public an explanation; otherwise the AL
allegation that "the whole affair of employing foreign
investigators into solving the grenade incidents is nothing
but an eyewash" would find more credential.
days into the Habiganj tragedy no FBI or Interpol people are
in sight. In fact, though both Rice and Rocca claimed that
US was considering Bangladesh's request we are yet to know
the result of US's seemingly interminable "consideration",
that is, whether the FBI is indeed coming or not. The US ambassador
Harry K Tomas told reporters on January 3, eight days after
the grisly attack in Habiganj, that US was considering Bangladesh's
request for FBI aid. One wonders how long will it take? Does
this delay translate into Bangladesh government's reservations
about giving FBI full access to evidence, witnesses and documents
relating to the grenade attacks? We don't know. Those who
do know are not saying anything about it.
government's willingness to get the FBI involved has been
also questioned by the slain leader's wife Asma Kibria. In
a press conference on February 5, Asma accused the government
of lying about inviting foreign investigators. " They
didn't make any formal request to any foreign agency so far.
I want to see a copy of any such invitation," she claimed.
We don't know the truth, but the concerned government authority
must have an answer.
delay in starting the investigation is the last thing we want
to see now. It does not take a genius to know that the spot
of occurrence needs to be scrutinised and evidence collected
from there by forensic experts as quickly as possible; any
delay in doing so will very likely damage crucial clues. In
fact, one of the reasons why the foreign investigators failed
to make any headway into the August 21 grenade attacks was
the delay in their arrival. Ten long days have already gone
by, how much time are we going to lose by dilly-dallying?
have been more than 20 such incidents since 1999 including
4 grenade attacks . It is widely believed that the majority
of these acts are linked, specially in the 4 grenade attacks
the same brand of Arges grenades have been used. Even from
a layman's eyes it is easy to detect a pattern in these incidents
-- individuals or political parties or organisations or occasions
that are associated with a certain set of values and beliefs
are being made the targets. Very often the target is a political
meeting or some sort of gathering. But more than half of a
dozen intelligence agencies are grappling in the dark, absolutely
clueless about these terrorist attacks.
is more to it than just simple intelligence failure. Had our
intelligence agencies investigated all these cases intensively
and in a coordinated manner since the first such incidents
it would have sent the right message to the perpetrators?
Did they really pursue any of these cases with single-minded
concentration to the finish? Not really. In most cases, the
investigations fizzle out half way through, sometimes because
of the inefficiency of the responsible persons, sometimes
for political interference or political interest, sometimes
because the IO (Investigation officer) was changed and all
his work trashed because he was appointed by the previous
government. Sometimes, weird as it may sound, another gruesome
incident has occurred to grab the public's and media's attention
and divert it from the previous one. There may be other reasons
but nobody seems to know what they are.
thing is certain though. The government control intelligence
bodies and unfortunately, the BNP government, as did the AL
while in power, appears to be seriously lacking in sincerity,
when it comes to consistently pursuing all these cases. So,
how can we blame the intelligence agencies before we allow
them to work independently and to their full capability? Given
full liberty they could perhaps have resolved all the cases
and nabbed all the heinous perpetrators. And who doesn't know
that the best and perhaps the only means to stop the next
attack is to catch the killers who orchestrated the previous
murders and by bringing them to justice. But does the government
have this precious element called "sincerity"? We
really don't know.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004