Killing of SAMS Kibria and some facts

26 Mar 2014


Activists of militant organization Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) used ‘Arges’ grenade to kill senior Awami League (AL) leader and former Finance Minister SAMS Kibria from a cache it was supposed to transport to India for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a militant group active in Kashmir. ‘Arges’ grenades are very powerful explosives used in battle field during wartime to inflict maximum damage on multiple enemy targets.

 A career diplomat, SAMS Kibria was posted in Pakistan embassy, Washington DC, as Counselor when the liberation war broke out. On August 4, 1971 he quit the Pak embassy and declared allegiance to the Bangladesh government-in-exile. He also took an active part in organizing a Bangladesh mission in Washington DC and mobilizing international opinion in support of Bangladesh.


After carrying out investigation into the murder of Kibria, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has come to know that the LeT high-ups in Pakistan had sent the cache to Bangladesh for onward transmission to their men in Kashmir through Satkhira border. But HUJI failed to accomplish this mission because of Indian Border Security Force’s (BSF) interception of their previous consignment in 2003.


The cache of 32 ‘Arges’ grenades, which HUJI received from Pakistan, rested in Chittagong before these were used for carrying out different major attacks. These grenades were hurled unsuccessfully at AL chief Sheikh Hasina (who was then opposition leader), former British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury, AL leaders Suranjit Sengupta, Syeda Jebunnesa Haq, and Badruddin Ahmed Kamran who was Mayor of Sylhet. This revelation came years into the sensational killing of senior AL leader and former finance Minister SAMS Kibria at Baidder Bazar in Habiganj on January 27, 2005.


Following a lengthy hearing in the Kibria murder case, the High Court ordered further investigations in 2007 as the previous investigations were found to be deliberately misdirected and flawed. CID ASP Rafiqul Islam was appointed as the new investigation officer. He found evidence of involvement of 24 people including BNP leader and former State Minister Lutfozzaman Babar and HUJI commander Mufti Hannan in the attack and submitted a fresh charge sheet on June 20, 2011, more that six years after the killing took place.  Ten people previously charged in the case were released as evidence of their involvement in the murder could not be substantiated.


Further investigations could lead to arrest of those masterminding the murder of Kibria well after ten years since the heinous crime was committed. The Investigating Officer said, "We now know who supplied the grenades and who received them in Bangladesh."


One Mozaffar Shah, leader of the Kashmir-based militant group LeT, sent the grenades to Chittagong through a ship from Karachi, Pakistan in January 2004. Majid Butt and Maulana Tajuddin were given responsibility of receiving the grenades in Chittagong and transporting the lot to the capital Dhaka


 Majid Butt, who also used the name Yusuf Butt, is a Pakistani national and senior leader of Kashmir-based militant organisation Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM). He had been staying in Bangladesh for long using different names to hide his identity. He married a Bangladeshi woman from Pabna and was staying in different parts of the country including Dhaka. He was arrested with firearms in Dhaka on January 7, 2009. His identity as a militant operative in disguise was revealed during the investigation. On the other hand, Maulana Tajuddin is younger brother of Abdus Salam Pintu, senior BNP leader and former deputy minister, now convicted for involvement in BDR Mutiny of 2009. Maulana Tajuddin, who was head of Bangladesh unit of LeT, fled to Pakistan after the August 21, 2004 unsuccessful grenade attack targeting Sheikh Hasina.


Pakistan-based militant groups LeT, HuM and Jaish-e-Mohammad are linked with an alliance operating in Kashmir. HUJI is the local facilitator for smuggling firearms, ammunition and explosives to Kashmir through Bangladesh. The BSF intercepted a consignment of firearms and explosives during such an attempt by the end of 2003. This shook HUJI and affected its maneuverings badly. Apprehending being caught red handed by BSF, the HUJI cadres did not take the risk of transporting the cache of 32 grenades to the Kashmiri militants and in stead left them in Chittagong. Maulana Tajuddin brought these grenades to Dhaka with the help of HuM activist Majid Butt.


Of the 32 grenades, nine were sent to HUJI in Sylhet region for use in different attacks on AL leaders and the then British high commissioner Anwar Chowdhury during his visit to Sylhet  to offer prayers at the Sufi saint Shah Jalal’s darga.


Sharif Shahedul Alam Bipul, a leader of HUJI’s Sylhet region who received the grenades and distributed those as per their "needs", kept one to kill AL leader SAMS Kibria. Instructed by Bipul, one HUJI activist Nayeem Ahmed Arif alias Limu gave the grenade to Badrul Alam Mizan to execute killing of Kibria on January 27, 2005. Mizan had Mizanur Rahman Mithu, Mohammad Ali and Mohammad Badrul with him during the operation. Splitting in two groups, Mizan and Mohammad Ali were riding on a motorbike, while the rest took an auto-rickshaw to reach Baidder Bazar, Habiganj, where Kibria, also the MP elected from the constituency, was attending a programme as the chief guest.


Though assigned to throw the grenade, Mohammad Ali got nervous and asked Mizan to do it. Well-trained in handling explosives, Mizan carried out the mission successfully. Talking on motive of the killing, the HUJI commander Mufti Abdul Hannan disclosed during interrogation that the HUJI Majlish-e-Shura (highest policy making body) believed that the AL was an ‘anti-Islam and pro-Indian political party, and hence an anathema that needed to be eliminated’.


Indoctrination by Mufti Hannan prompted HUJI activist Bipul to design several plans to attack AL leaders in Sylhet region. Many high-ups in the then BNP-Jamaat government were fully aware of HUJI’s plans in this regard. But, instead of taking any steps against HUJI, they kept instigating and encouraging the HUJI activists to execute such plans.


"What we have learned about Lutfozzaman Babar so far regarding his involvement in the case is that he helped Maulana Tajuddin to disappear from the country and escape to Pakistan," said investigation officer Rafiqul Islam. Incidentally, it may be noted that Lutfozzaman Babar has been sentenced to death in another case (Chittagong arms haul case).


Investigations have revealed that after his detention by the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) in 2005, Maulana Tajuddin gave out information about all the attacks carried out by HUJI, including procurement and smuggling of firearms and explosives.  DGFI conveyed details of information collected from him to the government high-ups including Lutfozzaman Babar who was then State Minister in charge of Home. Instead of taking any action against Tajuddin, Babar arranged a safe passage to Pakistan for him.  "Misusing his position as state minister for home, Babar helped Tajuddin escape from the country and diverted the course of investigation”, said the CID Officer.


Asma Kibria, widow of former Finance Minister Kibria, said she has no idea about any headway in the case in connection with the murder of her husband. "What I know is from newspaper reports. And I am not satisfied because I thought the AL government could expedite the process and take shorter period of time," she said. "We are disappointed at the inordinate delay. If the party my husband worked for, which is now in power, fails to punish the killers even after a decade, we don\'t see any slightest possibility of justice in future”.

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