Three brothers of a top army officer, convicted of a high-level murder, have escaped from Bangladesh, with the eldest now having a home in Malaysia, claims an explosive investigative report by Al Jazeera.
The latest episode also reveals how the group of brothers, which includes General Aziz Ahmed, is allegedly colluding with the security forces there and profiting from links to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
General Aziz Ahmed with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Aziz has been the country’s chief of army staff since 2018.
According to Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit), which has documentary evidence, one of the brothers escaped to Malaysia after conviction and even owns a house in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. It does not say if he is still in the country.
In the episode scheduled to air globally at 4am tomorrow, the team tracked down oldest brother Anis Ahmed after following his brother Aziz to Malaysia from Singapore.
Anis was convicted of the murder of Mustafa Rahman, Sheikh Hasina’s political rival, in 1996 in Dhaka together with his two other brothers.
He was given a life sentence in 2004 and it was upheld in 2007, the same year he purchased a property in Kuala Lumpur.
Another brother Josef served 20 years in jail and was recently given a highly unusual presidential pardon. The I-Unit has obtained secret phone recordings where Aziz describes how his brothers acted as personal security for Sheikh Hasina in the 1980s and 1990s.
The episode also exposes how another brother of the Bangladesh’s army chief Aziz boasts that he can use police and paramilitary units to abduct rivals and earn millions in bribes.
“Documents obtained by the I-Unit also reveal that the head of the army helped Haris Ahmed, a convicted killer, flee to Europe and evade justice,” Al Jazeera said.
The I-Unit surveillance teams discovered that during Aziz’s visit to Kuala Lumpur, the brothers held a gathering in the house, which records show, is owned by Anis.
“During their reunion in 2019, the brothers were driven around in diplomatic vehicles and spent an evening at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur,” the I-Unit says in the episode.
“His appeal against his conviction was thrown out in 2007 and he was ordered by a court to surrender himself to police as he was out of prison on bail at that point. But he never surrendered, and property records show that he purchased a house in the same year in Malaysia,” the episode reveals.
The I-Unit tracked down the second fugitive brother, Haris, who fled to Europe and is living under a false identity.
“In undercover recordings, he reveals how huge profits are made from bribes for military contracts or senior posts in the Bangladesh police. It’s a system of graft that implicates senior officers in the nation’s police and government circles,” the report says.
Haris claims he operates with the full support of the politician he used to protect.
The investigation also sheds light as to how the general aids his brother to purchase properties and businesses abroad, while moving money across European borders using a false passport.
In the episode, the general describes an unbreakable bond of loyalty between his brothers and Bangladesh’s leader.
The investigation also produces documents to show that Bangladesh has secretly purchased mobile phone interception systems from Israel, a country it does not officially recognise.
“Israeli intelligence experts trained officers from Bangladesh’s DGFI (military intelligence service) in a secret location in Budapest. The contract exposes how Bangladesh hid the Israeli origins of the spyware by claiming it is manufactured in Hungary,” claims the report.
Al Jazeera said the I-Unit contacted all those involved – including Bangladesh’s prime minister, home minister, inspector-general, police commissioner, all four Ahmed brothers and the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur – inviting them to respond to its findings. But none of them responded, it added. – FMT