Authorities in Bangladesh arrested a member of the country's opposition party on Sunday in connection with allegations that the party official, Aslam Chowhury, had purportedly made contact with Israel's Mossad espionage agency in an effort to overthrow the Bangladeshi government.
The Bangladeshi news website Prothom Alo said the country's home minister, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, characterized the suspicions against the Bangladesh Nationalist Party official as sabotage.
However, before the arrest, Chittagong police commissioner Iqbal Bahar said Chowhury was suspected of meeting with a Mossad representative, reportedly in India, in connection with alleged plans to take over the Bangladeshi government.
The Daily Star, which is based in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, named the Israeli who purportedly met with Chowhury as Mendi Safadi, whom it identified as "a leader" of Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud Party, Although some Bangladeshis would get the impression from local media that Safadi was a senior Israeli official, he is not. He is a former aide to a Druze Likud deputy cabinet minister, Ayoub Kara.
"This is a very serious issue that a BNP leader has held a meeting with an Israeli leader. It goes against our national values as well as against our party policy as Bangladesh does not have any relations with Israel,” a member of Chowhury's BNP party's standing committee member said, according to the Daily Star.
“This type of meeting will send a wrong signal to our friendly Muslim countries, and it may also seriously damage the BNP's image at home and abroad.”
Bangladesh, which has a Muslim majority, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. "We [Bangladesh] cannot think of relations with Israel," junior foreign minister Shahriar Alam said earlier this week, according to India's Business Standard website, which said Chowdhury created an uproar in Bangladesh when he appeared in photos posted on Facebook with Safadi. Chowdhury reportedly called the meeting with Safadi "accidental."