Politicians, businessmen supporting Dawood Ibrahim: Bangladesh police

The authorities refused to disclose the names of the politicians and businessmen but said that Ibrahim, who operates from Karachi and Dubai, helped them expand their businesses and was lavishing money on them to keep his Bangladesh network going.

As police here follow up on the clues gained during the questioning of Ibrahim's accomplice Abdur Rauf Daud Merchant, a senior police official said on Sunday he had received a threatening phone call and an SMS asking him to desist from the probe.

"I got a call from an Indian mobile phone number and an ADC received an SMS from a Bangladeshi cellphone number threatening us not to proceed with the matter of Dawood Ibrahim's aides," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detective Branch) Monirul Islam told The Daily Star.

A fugitive from India, Merchant was convicted for killing Bollywood music baron Gulshan Kumar in 1997. He was nabbed last month while in hiding in a village near Brahmanbaria in eastern Bangladesh.

During his interrogation, detectives found that some political leaders in Bangladesh have close relations with Ibrahim.

"The names of a number of political leaders and influential people surfaced during interrogation... We suspect that influential people maintain close links with Dawood to get his support in expanding their businesses in Dubai," said Monirul Islam.

He, however, refused to reveal the names and identities of the influential people "at this stage of investigation".

Merchant was arrested along with another Indian national Zahid Sheikh and Kamal Miah, who provided the convicted murderer shelter. Their questioning led to the arrest of Arif Hossain, who Bangladesh police say is an Indian, on Sunday.

Hossain, who has been running a meat shop here since 2001, said he had acquired Bangladeshi nationality, married a local girl and was receiving regular payment from Chhota Shakil, Ibrahim's second-in-command.

Hossain claimed to have killed one Bhaskar Shetty in 1993 and turned a fugitive from law in 2000 after which Chhota Shakil instructed him to flee to Bangladesh.

Hossain said Chhota Shakil sent him 150,000 taka ($2,000) through Western Union last week to provide legal support to Merchant and Sheikh.

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