Bangladesh: Delegates funded militants while on tour here

The Daily Star
Investigators suspect that some delegates of foreign Islamic organisations while visiting Bangladesh at different times in the past provided Islamist militants with financial and logistic supports without any government body monitoring their activities.
Alarmed by the discovery of some of these delegates' link with the Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) during interrogation of its militants, the investigators now plan to observe these people's activities and role to find out the militants' foreign connections.
An investigator said the aim behind the foreign assistance to the Bangladeshi militants is to initiate jihad for establishing Islamic rule.

According to the investigators, most of these Islamic delegates were from Pakistan, India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Sudan, Yemen, Bahrain and a few other Muslim-dominated countries.

While investigating the seditious role of the militants, the investigators found that the Islamist radicals in Bangladesh on different occasions received financial and logistic support as well as training from these foreign connections.

The government, however, was not serious at all about watching their movement in the country in the past. Although the demand for finding the foreign connections was raised strongly by different quarters, the government still keeps claiming it found no foreign links to the militants.

Meanwhile, the government has also remained inactive regarding the ruling party leaders, police officials and local administration whose links to the militants have long been revealed by the media as well as the arrested militant leaders themselves. It has been reiterating that all involved with the militants will be punished, but no action has been taken yet against these militant patrons.

During interrogation, arrested militant leaders and activists said their main sources of funds are zakat, "osor" (crop donation), "yanat" (donation), and their own contributions.

According to the investigators, however, the militants also had a good number of sources of money from different countries.

The financial support chiefly came through different ways, including hundi, in the name of funds for Islamic activities, Islamic NGOs, construction of mosques and madrasas and publication of Islamic books and booklets.

Talking to The Daily Star, investigators said the foreign delegates visited Bangladesh on different occasions as guests of various Islamic programmes, including conferences and meetings, for strengthening Islamic movements and NGO activities.

"Many delegates of foreign Islamic organisations have visited Bangladesh, stayed for significant period of time on different occasions and met the militant leaders," an investigator told The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.

The militants took all sorts of assistance from these delegates to create a war-like situation in Bangladesh, in the name of jihad, for paving the way for establishing Islamic rule in Taliban style, he said.

Some of these foreign delegates were born in one country and now have the citizenship of another, the investigators said, declining to disclose the names of the suspected foreign connections for the sake of investigation.

The sedition case filed on March 16 against seven members of JMB's Majlish-e-Shura, top decision-making body, said the militant outfit is determined to achieve its ultimate goal of ousting the government and establishing Shariah law by force. And for this, it is collecting firearms and ammunition, making bomb attacks, resorting to armed hooliganism, injuring common people, damaging people's property and trying to create public hatred against the existing laws and the government to destroy the whole state structure.

Important among the foreign Islamic delegates who visited Bangladesh on different occasions are Abdul Matin Salafi of India, Moulana Fazlur Rahman, Malik Mohammad Khan Sherani, Allama Osaya and Monjur Ahmed Chiniutee of Pakistan, Abdullah Abdut Tawat al Madani of Nepal, Sajlee Rifat Osman Mahmud, Abbas Bao, Kamal Hossain and Mohammed Ahmed al Sheikh of Sudan, Zafar Musa Abu Moaz of Iraq, Abdur Rahman of Yemen, Moulana Sheikh Abdullah Nasser al Rahmani.

Some of them visited Bangladesh more than once while some stayed back for long.

Fazlur Rahman, president of Jomiate Ulamaye Islam and also head of Muttahida Majlish-e Amal, a coalition of six Pakistani Islamic organisations, addressed a meeting in Sylhet in March last year. They asked people to join the movement to save Islam, saying the religion has been in danger across the globe.

The Pakistani, known as a pro-Taliban Islamic leader, also visited Jessore.

According to sources, some foreign Islamic NGO leaders and officials are presently staying in the country.

JMB's military commander and Shura member Ataur Rahman Sunny and another Shura member Abdul Awal Sarker confessed before the court on February 8 that two British citizens gave the JMB chief a sum of 10,000 pounds for bomb attacks in Bangladesh by the end of June last year.

The two top JMB leaders identified the Britons as Abdur Rahman and Sajjad, leaders of a London-based Islamic militant organisation.

But Inspector General of Police Abdul Quayyum told reporters after the capture of JMB chief Abdur Rahman that they had found no proof of the militants' foreign link as yet.

Julfikar Ali Manik
Vol. 5 Num 656, April 02, 2006