By Rajeev Sharma
Libyan autocratic ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi gave shelter to the self-professed killers of the then President and Bangladesh founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who was brutally assassinated on August 15, 1975 by a group of Army officers. The Libyan leader had written a letter in 1996 to the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, requesting her to forgive her father’s killers — Col Faruk and Col Rashid who were hiding in Libya. Muammar Gaddafi, who is presently on the run, played the key role of patron with funds and training to the members of Freedom Party that was floated by the self-proclaimed killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Sheikh Hasina herself confirmed Gaddafi’s letter to her while speaking at a public function in Dhaka on August 28, 2011. Hasina also gave some details about Gaddafi’s letter and her response to him, while adding an acerbic remark that the Libyan leader who had given shelter to the killers of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is witnessing his own fall. Hasina said Gaddafi wrote to her in 1996 during her earlier tenure as Prime Minister, requesting her to forgive the Bangabandhu’s killers — Faruk and Rashid. “Gaddafi in his letter cited a quotation from holy Quran. I also replied to him with another quotation from Quran… I said that if I would not try to bring the killers to law, I won’t perform my duty as the daughter of a father,” Hasina said.
Freedom Party was floated by Lt. Col (dismissed) Khandakar Abdur Rashid and Col (dismissed) Syed Faruk Rahman, along with a number of army officials, who plotted and executed the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Soon after the killing, both Rashid and Faruk were living in Libya as “VIP Guests” of Col Gaddafi. As recognition of their brutality and murderous past, the fugitive Bangladeshi Army officers were accorded large construction projects in Libya worth a few hundred million dollars. Such businesses were operated by Lt. Col Khandakar Abdur Rashid, under the umbrella of a construction company floated by him in Libya with the start-up capital of US$ 7 million. It is believed that Muammar Gaddafi gave this money to the self-proclaimed killer of the founding father of Bangladesh, as a “token help” enabling the fugitive Bangladeshi Army officers to start business ventures in Libya.
On the other hand, Lt Col Syed Faruk Rahman was doing the business of recruiting workers for Libyan projects from Bangladesh. Through this business, Syed Faruk Rahman made huge amount of money. Later, Bangladeshi army ruler Gen Hussain Muhammed Ershad became a prominent beneficiary of Syed Faruk’s manpower business. In return, Gen Ershad gave special privileges to Freedom Party as well as its leaders. Finally Ershad helped Freedom Party to emerge as the so-called main opposition in the parliament, when major political parties including Awami League and BNP boycotted the general election held under Ershad’s military regime. At the personal initiative of Ershad, a substantial segment of Libyan manpower recruitment business was given to a Bangladeshi company named Getco, which is owned by a local businessman named Musa alias Prince Musa. It is known to all that Ershad was one of the behind-the-screen partners of this company. Similarly, Ershad managed huge manpower business for this company from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain, as Gen Ershad was very close to Saddam Hussain.
Main agenda of Freedom Party in Bangladesh was to increase its strength within Bangladesh by recruiting mostly well-known terrorists and criminals in the country, thus providing them financial support, trips to Libya and guerilla trainings. At the special patronization of Col Gaddafi, the Freedom Party leadership was building a notorious terror outfit under the garb of Freedom Party, which was gaining strength for staging any sort of militant actions aimed at subversion and chaos inside Bangladesh.
In addition to funding Freedom Party in Bangladesh, the Libyan dictator was heavily funding Bangladesh-Libya Friendship Society, the Monthly Islamic Times and Brother Gaddafi Kindergarten School. The Bangladesh-Libya Friendship Society was running a printing press named Progoti Printers in Dhaka since 1977, where publication materials such as a monthly bulletin named Shobuj Obhijan (Green Movement) as well as Bangla version of Gaddafi’s “Green Book” were published and distributed among the people free of cost. It is estimated that the Libyan dictator was spending around US$ 1-2 million annually in Bangladesh for continuing Bangladesh-Libya Friendship Society, the Monthly Islamic Times and Brother Gaddafi Kindergarten School projects.
Just before Gaddafi and members of his family were left with no option but to go on the run following a spontaneous outbreak of people’s wrath in Libya, Lt. Col (dismissed) Khandakar Abdur Rashid reportedly shifted from Libya to Pakistan with a large amount of Gaddafi’s ill-gotten fund. According to information, Khandekar Abdur Rashid has been assigned by Gaddafi to relocate at least a few billion American dollars to some industrial and business projects in Pakistan and the Middle East. It is also learnt that since 1997, Khandakar Abdur Rashid has invested huge amount of Gaddafi’s money in some projects in Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Now, he has been assigned to find larger scopes of investing bigger amount of money, as the Libyan dictator is in dire need of relocating his ill-gotten billions of dollars from the West to “safer” nations. Rashid is now known to be contacting some of his batch mates and “colleague-brothers” in Pakistan army for their possible help in finding larger investment scopes in that country.
(The writer is a New Delhi-based journalist-author and a strategic analyst. He can be reached at [email protected])