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Nov 23, 2006 at 04:08pm IST

Ex-B'desh PM accused of terrorist links

Dhaka: Bangladesh's ex-prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, and her politician son Tareq Rahman have been accused of having "close links" with an Islamic militant, as the campaign for the parliamentary polls in January hots up.

Retired Colonel Oli Ahmed, who left Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to form the Bangladesh Liberal Democratic Party in October, accused the Zia family of patronising Sheikh Abdur Rahman, chief of the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) "under external design".

News Today newspaper, which reported his speech at a rally did not elaborate on "external design", a charge typical of political rhetoric in Bangladesh.

LINKED TO TERROR: Zia has been accused of patronising chief of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh.

Sheikh Abdur Rahman is one of the seven JMB leaders sentenced to death for murdering two judges. Their appeal is pending before the Supreme Court.

Accusing Zia of harbouring militants, Ahmed said: "Because of clandestine relationship with Tareq and his mother, Sheikh Abdur Rahman and his associates are enjoying the hospitality of a jamai (son-in-law) in the condemned cell."

Ahmed, who won the highest gallantry award in the 1971 liberation war against Pakistani forces, had for long been a dissident lawmaker of the BNP.

"Bring former state minister for home Lutfuzzaman Babar and Tareq to book. Everything will come out if they are taken for interrogation," said Ahmed.