A Saudi diplomat, Khalaf Bin Mohammed Salem Al-Ali, was killed at two a.m. on March 6. in the elegant section of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
The 45-year-old Al-Ali received single shot in his chest at an intersection just two buildings away from his rented residence, where he had been living alone for two years. This was the first time in the history of Bangladesh that a diplomat had been assassinated.
Even before the post mortem, the Deputy Ambassador of Saudi Arabia told the press that the murder had been just an accident. He later changed his statement, saying it was an unfortunate incident, and that he hoped there would be some breakthrough in the search for the killers.
The Saudi Ambassador also maintained all the formalities; and the top-level leaders of both countries expressed their condolences as if the murder were just an accident.
The killing, however, some sources think, was nothing of the sort. According to Bangladeshi detectives, Al-Ali had been due to transfer to the Saudi Arabian embassy in Amman, Jordan, but seemed reluctant to leave Dhaka. He had been given to riding around Dhaka regularly on a yellow bicycle late at night -- unusual for an embassy official in Bangladesh. Even though the diplomatic zone is under constant police surveillance, the atmosphere in Bangladesh does not permit foreigners to roam around at odd hours. Hundreds of staffers from dozens of embassies in the area never so much as thought of going out alone in Dhaka after dark.
The night he was murdered, however, Al-Ali had not ridden his bicycle, and he had left his wallet and cell phone in his apartment.
Police found a solo witness who, at the time of the murder, had been at the nearby Consulate of Portugal. According to police, the witness, named Anwar, had seen the murder on the street: After the sound of a single shot, he said, he saw the diplomat pushed down from a white private car, which had then had sped hurriedly away.
The murder, then, could not have been a misdeed done by local hooligans; and some local sources are convinced that Al-Ali had been the victim of a secret service war.
Last year, apparently, Shiite terrorists killed a Saudi diplomat in Karachi, Pakistan; and the Pakistani secret service agency, the ISI, happens to have a stronghold in Bangladesh. Cabinet members of Bangladesh's government have spoken several times about it, and Indian leaders and officials including Foreign Minister S.M. Krisna and Home Minister P. Chidambaram have expressed deep concern about it.
Indian intelligence agencies, including RAW, it seems are also active in Bangladesh; the main opposition party in Bangladesh, the BNP, has even several times accused the ruling government of ignoring the infiltration of the Indian intelligent services.
There are also in Bangladesh strong, Iranian-run Islamic institutions with which increasing numbers of young people are affiliated. Hundreds of Al-Qaeda-LeT veterans are always present, often openly.
Saudi Arabia, too, is not beyond doubt, thanks to Al-Ali's possibly having engaged in double dealing.
Some people also have the idea, but without any basis for it, that Saudi Arabia, via the ISI, might have been trying to stop Al-Ali from passing secret information to other agencies; but even though his murder was clearly not a conventional one, there is virtually no chance at all of investigators finding anything out about it.