Doha-based Al-Jazeera revealed evidence Monday showing that the Bangladesh Army illegally purchased Israeli-made surveillance equipment using a middleman represented by the Bangkok-based Irish national who is acting CEO of a Singapore-registered company called Sovereign Systems.
The investigation asserted that the Bangladesh Army bought Israeli equipment in 2018 despite the ongoing row between Dhaka and Tel Aviv over the Palestinian issue. Two states have no diplomatic ties, and Bangladeshi citizens are restricted to travel to the Jewish state. Dhaka officially announced that the country would not recognize Tel Aviv until the Israeli-Palestinian issue is resolved and Palestinians get an independent state. The purchased P6 Intercept is believed to be a tool of mass surveillance that can track and monitor hundreds of people’s cellphones.
In the interview with Al-Jazeera James Moloney said that the P6 Intercept is “from Israel, so we don’t advertise that technology.”
“We put the cellular or WiFi interception on the website. We are very careful about our public profile,” Moloney added. “The technology is very aggressive and intrusive. You don’t want the public to know that you’re using that equipment.”
While Bangladesh military commanders said that the deal was “for one of the Army Contingents due to be deployed in the U.N. Peacekeeping Mission,” the U.N. spokesperson said that the P6 Intercept technology was not the case and that its peacekeepers do not operate “electronic equipment of the nature described in the Al-Jazeera reporting.”
The global organization’s calls for an investigation are referred to Bangladesh’s Chief of Army Staff, General Aziz Ahmed, who will meet senior U.N. officials in New York next week.
Al-Jazeera reported that the Bangladesh Army acquired the P6 Intercept the day after Ahmed became chief of staff. It also claimed that Ahmed’s brother, convicted criminal Haris Ahmed, played a vital role in military procurement for Bangladesh.
“Such equipment has not been deployed with Bangladeshi contingents in United Nations peacekeeping operations,” the U.N. spokesperson told Al-Jazeera. “We are aware of the reporting by Al-Jazeera Investigations concerning allegations of corruption against senior officials in Bangladesh and the press release issued by the Ministry of Defence of Bangladesh. The allegation of corruption is a serious matter that should be investigated by the relevant authorities.”
Bangladesh is the largest supplier of military personnel to U.N. peacekeeping missions. Over 6,800 people are currently involved in peacekeeping operations around the world.