Monthly Archives: April 2009

HuT kingpin Selim Ponni is the neo Shaikh Rahman

Special Correspondent

Bayejid Khan Ponni alias Selim Ponni is the kingpin of notorious Islamist militancy group named Hizb Ut Towhid [HuT] in Bangladesh, who continues to train his own suicide bombers and militias within this notorious Islamist group for years, is gradually emerging as the neo ‘Shaikh Abdur Rahman’ in the country. In his book titled ‘Dazzal’ Selim Ponni terms Jews and Christians as the worst evils and enemies of humantiy. He calls upon the followers of HuT to kill the Jews and Christians for buying heaven. Published by Towhid Prokashon [Towhid Publishers], this extremist book is distributed from Pustok Bhaban, 31/32 P.K. Roy Road, Bangla Bazar, Dhaka. HuT continues its organization in different parts in Bangladesh through a selected number of cadres recruited by Bayejid Khan Ponni. This organization uses 0171-5002439, 0175-2337461, 0152-302845, 0152-365167 and 01711-005025 cell phones along with hundreds of mobile number in giving instructions to its cadres around the country.

According to information, Hizb Ut Towhid, althoudh were getting organized inside Bangladesh for years [since 1996], it recently established a small unit in Indian state of Kashmir with the objective of providing fund and arms-explosives to the Muslim militants within that area. This organization considers India as ‘enemy of Islam’ for what it said “repression and murder of Muslim in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Bayejid Ponni in his book titled ‘Islamer Prokito Roop Rekha’ [Main policies of Islam], wrote, till the democracy is not replaced with Sharia rule in any society, armed struggle should be continued.

Quoting prophet of Islam, Bayejid Ponni said, till everyone does not embrace Islam, war should continue in the world by all the Muslims.

He said, “As ‘punishment’ of abandoning Jihad, Muslims in Europe are being made into slaved of Christians.”

He quoted Allah saying, “If you abandon Jihad [armed struggle], I will punish you”.

He said, because of abandoning armed struggle and Jihad, we have been made into slaves of Europe, America and Christians.

He suggests members of his group to migrate to other countries with the objective of continuing Jihad against Jews and Christians. According to information, a large number of HuT members are already sent abroad [in the Western nations] with Jihadist indoctrination.

He inspires the members of this notorious group to reject democracy and all other forms of governance except that of Sharia rule. He promoted murder of non-Muslims and even Muslims following democracy as ‘noble cause’.

HuT has its own ‘Video Wing’ wherefrom speeches of Bayejid Ponni are distributed amongst the members of this group. In most of these videos, Bayejid Ponni gives instigative speeches to his followers, which are very similar to those of Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh [JMB], a banned outfit. It is even learnt that, for years, this group has gained strength as well as gathered arms and explosives with their targeted offensives on September 9, 2009. Bayejid Ponni has been telling his followers of a massive offensive by HuT in Bangladesh on 9 September to show strength of their group to the world.

Advertisements

Bangladesh: ‘Kick out the Bismillah First’

The worldwide Islamic terrorist activities have been causing the death of uncounted innocents and spreading the message of hearted and violence. Bangladesh, also a victim of Islamic terror over the past decade, has have failed to deal with the Islamic terrorism decisively over the years.
. Secularism in Danger in Bangladesh
Secularism in Danger in Bangladesh


Historically, Islamic terrorism was rooted in defining Islam as a “state religion”. In independent Bangladesh, the long-standing failure to establish secular democracy has given opportunity for the rise of political Islam and Islamic extremism. By knocking down the secular ascent of the foundational Constitution of Bangladesh, dirty politiciansparticularly General Ziaur Rahman (the founder of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, BNP)characterized Bangladesh from a secular to an Islamic nation. This paved the way for the rapid rise of Islamic politics and extremism.

Many nations around the world—such as Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, and United Stateshave successfully introduced anti-terrorism legalization. It’s a need of the hour for Bangladesh to follow suit and introduce constructive and effective anti-terrorism legislations.

Ironically, it is a truth that laws alone will not be able to deter Islamic terrorism in Bangladesh. Before introducing anti-terror laws, the government should first work towards secularizing the country. The first step in this endeavor would be kicking out “bismillah” (in the name of Allah) from the opening statement of the constitution and also “Islam” as the state religion, the root of Islamic extremism. Bangladesh, both internally and externally, must project itself in the spirit of secularism, which will be a step forward towards a better and progressive Bangladesh.

The anti-terrorism laws should be extraordinary that fits the pure democratic standard, and distinct from the laws of Bangladesh Penal Code. In drafting the law, the government should keep in mind that no-one should be able to use it as a political instrument.

While drafting the law, the government should keep in mind that the law should not only focus on the present or past activities of extremist Islamic groups in Bangladesh, but also focus on rooting out Islamic extremism, root and branch, from the society.

We have also experienced that incarcerated Islamic extremists in Bangladesh have been indoctrinating and recruiting small-time young Muslim criminals inside prisons during their imprisonment. In a situation like this, the government must also set up separate prison-cells only for Islamic extremists.

UN and International Aid Groups Threatened by Islamic Militants to Leave Bangladesh

Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned Islamist militant outfit linked numerous terrorist activities in the country, has threatened officials of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), International Federation of the Red Crescent (IFRC) and World Food Programme (WFP) to stop work and immediately leave Barisal district in southern Bangladesh.

Three letters, written in the name of the proscribed group, were delivered, by postal mail, to the offices of these aid organizations in the Barisal city on Monday.
The letter asked the chiefs of the three organisations to shut down their operations and quit Bangladesh immediately.

It also threatened the officials of dire consequences if they did not follow the order.

Experts doubt that the threat is closely connected to the recent promise of the UN to help Bangladesh with the trials of the Islamist war criminals.

Police supper of Barisal Mohammed Mahabur Rahman, acknowledging the incident, said they have taken the threat seriously and strengthen security of the officials of the organization.

He also said that they are employing high intelligence surveillance to monitor any kind of terrorist activities. He has assigned his 9 officer in charge of different police station to pray the Friday prayer in different mosques and counsel with the Imam and faithful to fight the Islamic terrorism.

He added that the police alone will not be able to fight the Islamic terrorism. People and police should be united against Islamic threats.

Workers Party lawmaker Rashid Khan Menon said that there may be a connection of this threat to the recent promise of the UN to help Bangladesh with the planning of its war-crime trial.

Prof. Imtiaz Ahmed of International Relations, University of Dhaka, said, “Who had threaten the UN agencies and other International organization had special agenda indeed”. He also suggested said that there may a close relation of this threat to the UN’s recent promise to help with Bangladesh government’s war-crime trials.

He also added that those, who have threatened, may have international links and trying to convey a special message through this.

Some people are trying to politicize the issues of the trial of war criminals and trying to play political game with the national issue.

The demand of the trial of 1971 war criminals is no more political but national concern and demand.

Recently JMB has heightened its activities; and some 100 suspected militants, likely linked to JMB, were arrested by security agencies last month. The security agencies also seized explosives from some of the suspects.

According to the Daily Star, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested, in a recent operation, eight operatives of the  banned JMB, including brother of Salahuddin, a member of JMB’s Majlish-e-Shura (highest policy-making body), and recovered bomb-making materials. Also seized were CDs, audiotapes, computer accessories and manuals, and books and leaflets on jihad in the capital.

The seized JMB leaflet, quote the Daily Star, reads:

“Here comes the Jihadi Kafila (caravan). It will destroy the enemies of Allah and his Prophet (S). It will bury the tyrants, exploiters and the dishonest leaders to bring about an Islamic state.”

The leaflet adds: “Christian-controlled media gives a distorted view of the Mujahideen’s noble campaign to free the country from the unbelievers”.

Kawmi madrasas to get govt recognition Assures law minister

 
Committed to PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO KNOW
 
  Tuesday, April 21, 2009 10:01 PM GMT+06:00  
 
 
Print Friendly Version Published On: 2009-04-19 Front Page Kawmi madrasas to get govt recognition Assures law minister Staff Correspondent
Law Minister Shafique Ahmed yesterday said the government is sincere to recognise the Kawmi madrasa education by bringing it in the mainstream of the country’s general education system.”If the Kawmi madrasa education is brought under the general curriculum of education, the madrasas will be registered. The madrasa students will then get general education and certificates and as a result they will get jobs like the students who study general curriculum,” he said.

He made the comments while talking to reporters after holding a meeting with a 15-member delegation of Kawmi madrasa teachers at his Indira Road residence in the evening.

The leaders of the Kawmi madrasa teachers said that around 30 lakh students are studying in about 15,000 Kawmi madrasas across the country.

The law minister said a large number of students who are studying in the Kawmi madrasas will get the modern, scientific and technical education along with the religious lessons at Kawmi madrasas when the education system would be brought under the general education system.

Shafique Ahmed said some media distortedly published one of his comments regarding the emergence of militancy from Kawmi madrasas.

He said he never made a comment that Kawmi madrasas are the centre of militancy.

Replying to a question, the law minister said the decision of appointing investigation agency and prosecutors for holding trial of the war criminals will be finalised at a meeting today.

Maulana Mufti Abdullah and Mufti Imad Uddin representing the Kawmi madrasa teachers said they urged the prime minister through the law minister to recognise the Kawmi madrasa education as an official education and to take steps so that the law enforcers don’t raid the Kawmi madrasas and harass the madrasa teachers and students.

They said that there is no terrorism or militancy in Islam.

They also said the law minister has assured them of meeting their demands.

 
Committed to PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO KNOW
 
  Tuesday, April 21, 2009 10:03 PM GMT+06:00  
 
 
Print Friendly Version Published On: 2009-04-19 Front Page Meeting With PM Kawmi madrasa leaders to help govt fight militancy Unb, Dhaka
Kawmi madrasa leaders yesterday promised to help the government in identifying the patrons of militancy and bringing them to book.The madrasa leaders under the banner of Bangladesh Kawmi Madrasa Education Board were speaking at a view-exchange meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Jamuna in the evening

They decided to withdraw their rally scheduled for April 20 in protest against the recent anti-militancy drives in Kawmi Madrasas.

Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi, president of Bangladesh Kawmi Madrasa Education Board, scholars Shaikhul Hadith Allama Azizul Haque, Shaikhul Hadith Allama Fariduddin Masud, Hazrat Moulana Jamiruddin, Moulana Habibur Rahman, Moulana Abdul Halim, Moulana Ashraf Ali, Moulana Anwar Shah and Moulana Abul Fatah Mohammad Yahia, among others, were present.

Shafi said real Kawmi madrasas in the country are not involved in militancy or any other terrorist activity. The orphans and the children of helpless and poor people get shelter and education there.

Abul Fatah Mohammad Yahia said some misguided people are carrying out terrorist activities using the name of Islam and “this evil force is pinning the blame on the country’s Kawmi madrasas very cleverly.”

“From now on, we shall remain vigilant and try our best to find out the militants. If we find any of them, we shall hand him over to the administration,” said Mohammad Yahia.

Moulana Ruhul Amin suggested that the government involve the imams in a campaign for creating mass awareness against the menace of militancy. He also gave a proposal for forming information cells in Kawmi madrasas to inform the local administration about any suspicious activity.

They suggested that the government form antiterrorism committees in upazilas and districts and include them in the committees to ensure coordination among those.

The prime minister assured them that no innocent person would be harassed during the anti-militancy drives.

The madrasa leaders blamed Jamaat-e-Islami for ‘patronising’ militancy in the country and said Jamaat is using the country’s government madrasas ‘to create its cadres.’

They demanded that the prime minister form a national commission to formulate a supplementary syllabus based on science and technology keeping the original Kawmi Madrasa syllabus intact.

“The original syllabus of holy Quran, Hadith can never be changed. But, I think, the madrasa students need training and education on science and technology for getting more employment opportunities,” the premier said.

Hasina said evil acts of a few people are tarnishing the image of Islam. Now it has become necessary to identify them.

“The government needs your suggestions and cooperation to eliminate the evil force that is using the name of Islam to carry out terrorist activities,” she told the madrasa leaders.

Prime minister’s advisers HT Imam and Maj Gen. (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique and Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, among others, were present.

 

JMB suspects held in Jamalpur

The Daily Star

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

JMB suspects held in Jamalpur

Threat letters to Barisal Unicef, WFP

Six suspected members of the banned Islamist militant outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), including two women, were arrested in the early hours yesterday in Jamalpur town.

A joint team of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and police raided a house at Phulbaria Munshipara in the town around 12:30am, hauled the six and took them to Jamalpur Sadar Police Station.

Later, they were arrested them under Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code and produced before a local court, which placed them on a five-day remand each.

The arrestees are Abdus Salam, 25, of Daspara in Modhupur of Tangail, Mizanur Rahman, 21, of Gopinathpur in Sarishabari of Jamalpur, Mohammad Zakaria, 28, of Krishnapur in Nalitabari of Sherpur, his wife Rabeya Begum, 23, Tareque Mostafa Masum, 29, of Moghbazar in Dhaka, and his wife Syeda Halima Yasmeen.

They had rented the ground floor of the three-storey house at Munshipara around one and a half months ago.

Contacted last night, Officer-in-Charge of Jamalpur Police Station Abdul Matin said that during primary interrogation, the arrestees said they are followers of Prof Abdul Majid of Charfasion upazila in Bhola.

“We are checking whether the detainees are involved with JMB or any other militant organisation,” he said.

Our Correspondent reports from Barisal: Three separate letters in Bangla signed as JMB reached Unicef, International Federation of Red Cross and World Food Programme Barisal offices by post yesterday afternoon.

Assistant Commissioner of Barisal Metropolitan Police Hayatul Islam told The Daily Star that the officials of the organisations submitted copies of the letters to police. Visiting the offices, police have increased the surveillance activities in the areas, he added.

The sender of the hand written letters had threatened to kill the chiefs of the organisations if they didn’t stop their operations and quit Bangladesh immediately, said Hayatul.

He further said police are preparing to lodge a general diary and take special security measures in this connection.

The banality of violence in Bangladesh

The banality of violence in Bangladesh

Photo: Rebel border guards position in headquarters in capital Dhaka

BINA D’COSTA

IN THE early morning on the 25 February, a mutiny by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) broke out in Dhaka. Following some horrific ordeals experienced by many army officers, including senior BDR staff and their families, the mutiny ended 33 hours later.

The dispute, thought to be about the pay and command structure of the BDR, Bangladesh’s paramilitary force, now looks increasingly like a sinister plot to destabilise a democratic but institutionally weak nation-state. While it is not clear how the BDR rebels got access to scores of arms and ammunitions, there are now confirmed reports that some non-BDR individuals and institutions were connected to this mutiny.

The history of the BDR goes back to 1795, when the Frontier Protection Forces were formed by the East India Company of the British Raj. After several name changes under different political systems, the East Pakistan Rifles (1947-1971) became the Bangladesh Rifles in 1972. Currently, junior BDR personnel receive a meagre US $70 per month and usually the senior BDR officers are seconded from the army, creating power inequality within BDR regiments. In addition, there have been recent demands from the BDR for government approval to participate in lucrative peacekeeping missions overseas.

The bodies of 81 officers – disposed of in sewers and shallow graves – were discovered in the days after the bloodshed ended, with an estimated 1,000 guards fleeing in civilian clothes. Some army officers are still missing. There are horrifying tales of rape, looting and arson that emerged from the accounts of survivors. The Director General (DG) of the BDR Major General Shakil Ahmed and his wife Naznin Ahmed’s bodies were also found in one of the mass graves.

Perpetrators
Earlier sympathy towards the BDR from ordinary citizens quickly evaporated following the broadcast of partially decomposed and charred bodies, mass graves, signs of disrespect shown by the mutineers to the deceased, and the trauma of families who had lost their loved ones. The mutiny and the horror that emerged during this event have been compared to the violence of 1971. The aggressive methods of this mutiny, indeed, bear an uncanny resemblance to the 1971 genocide by the Pakistani army and their collaborators.

The Awami League government came back to power in December 2008. Amongst its ‘new’ promises was the commitment to hold a war crimes trial that would bring the perpetrators of 1971 to justice. Jamaat-I-Islami, the political party which sided with Pakistan during the war has a lot to lose if the government decides to go ahead with the trial. Commerce Minister and the Chair of the Investigation Commission, Faruq Khan hastily suggested in a press conference on 3 March that the BDR massacre was executed to foil the government’s efforts to hold the war crimes trial. He also mentioned ‘the horrid Peelkhana killings and plundering clearly show that the conspirators active in destabilising the Bengali nation and its language are menacingly strong.’

Some were quick to point to the role of other Islamic groups, such as the JMB (Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh) and HuJI-B (Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh) that have an interest in destabilising the state. While this investigation is still continuing, the Commerce Minister has been repeatedly pointing to the JMB.

Although it is entirely possible that these groups were involved, without conclusive evidence, it is not prudent for a senior political leader to comment in this way, and it may jeopardise the inquiry.

The other opinions and conspiracy theories circulating include India’s interest in having a weak Bangladeshi border patrol and Pakistan’s ISI wanting to divert attention from the war crimes trials.

These are entirely unsubstantiated assumptions, but the mutiny has stalled the war crimes movement, created human insecurity and anxiety, and posed a significant challenge to the recently elected government. In addition, weakened border patrols mean that cross-border smuggling operations have the upper hand for the time being.

Redress
The government issued an order asking all BDR officials to come back to work within 24 hours on 28 February. Nearly 5000 BDR personnel have since rejoined duties. However, anxious families waiting outside the BDR headquarters have reported that they had not heard back from the troops since. There are also unconfirmed reports that retaliatory measures have been taken against the BDR personnel. A treason case was filed, naming BDR deputy assistant director Touhidul Alam and five others and accusing more than a thousand officers in connection with the mutiny. Investigators have so far confirmed the involvement of 450 BDR personnel in the mutiny and suggested that at least 12 of them led several groups of mutineers.

The government is considering holding the trial under the Army Act of 1952. If this happens, the likely application of the death penalty for the most serious offences will provide swift justice, but that justice may not be fair. It would be more constructive to create a special tribunal, upholding the rule of law that would attend not only to punitive mechanisms, but also consider the context of such violent outbursts and the grievances of the BDR personnel.

Media
Security anxieties have led to the government controlling the flow of information from Bangladesh to the outside world. Some of the earlier discussions between senior army officers and the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, have been posted on YouTube. As a result, the government banned YouTube and 5 other blogs that covered the mutiny stories and debates. While it is true that the event generated many rumours, in this globalised world there are many ways to bypass such naïve controls. A democratic government must respect the value of information flow, and it is not astute to try to impose sanctions on information in the name of security.

The three-day national mourning period announced by the government was only for the army officers who were killed. There was no account of the distress of ordinary BDR staff, and the civilians who were killed during the mutiny. The Bangladeshi media has depicted the BDR as an ‘evil’ force which carried out ‘demonic’ activities, either deliberately or through its subtexts. This narrow portrayal prompted many acts of prejudice against innocent BDR staff and their families. The media’s representations of the assassinated officers as ‘fallen heroes’ also illustrate the powerful symbolic- both material and real location of the army as the sole protector of the nation. No other institution’s carnage could evoke such strong reactions.

The media in Bangladesh has also been careful not to report any stories of rape, gender-based violence and intimidation. However, these horrific stories are now trickling down from Peelkhana violence survivors to the global audience through various channels. While it is extremely important to protect the privacy of the survivors with utmost gender sensitivity, these acts demonstrate that the mutiny was not only about pay, hierarchy and a desire to in participate in UN peacekeeping missions. What was this violence about? Without considering the crimes committed against the families that were held hostages, the investigation will not be complete. Even one rape is too many. It is the government’s and civil society’s responsibility (including the media) to ensure that violence committed against women and children is not pushed under the rug in the name of honour and purity of the nation.

Future
What does this recent uprising mean in terms of Bangladesh’s internal politics and the region? Firstly, it reveals the deeply embedded insecurity and instability of Bangladesh that have existed since the beginnings of independence. Political assassinations, coups, martial law, have shaped its political system where intense divisions and distrust remain between the civilian governing bodies and the armed forces. Similar to other political killings of the recent past, if this violence is not resolved, and if there is no justice, Bangladesh will face a serious crisis. In the worst event this could result in either overthrowing a democratically elected government or a return to a military regime or both.

Secondly, the military and civilian intelligence agencies such as the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), Military Intelligence (MI) and the National Security Intelligence (NSI) must be reviewed for their failure to predict this crisis. Is there any evidence that at least some of the factions of the agencies were involved in the mutiny? If there is, Bangladesh has to restructure these intelligence bodies, so it does not replicate the experiences of the Pakistani intelligence community, especially the ISI.

Thirdly, a violent and chaotic revolt and massacre carried out under the banner of the BDR, the unit that serves as Bangladesh’s primary border policing institution, questions the moral authority of BDR to protect the sovereignty of the nation-state. #

First published in East Asia Forum, March 20, 2009

Dr Bina d’Costa is a Research Fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Justice, RegNet, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University (ANU). East Asia Forum provides a platform for the best in East Asian analysis, research and policy comment on the Asia-Pacific region and world affairs

Torture of Saleem Samad

The Prisoner’s Tale
A journalist recounts his personal story of police abuse and state repression in Bangladesh
BY SALEEM SAMAD


ABIR ABDULLAH/DRIK FOR TIME Truth Hurts: Samad reported the rise of Islamic militancy

“I should kill you,” the high-ranking Dhaka policeman said. He drew his pistol from his holster, shoved me to the floor and pressed the muzzle to my temple. “You are a traitor. You have betrayed your country. How dare you describe the nation as a haven for al-Qaeda and the Taliban?”

My troubles began last November when Britain’s Channel 4 asked me to set up interviews and translate for a crew it was sending to Bangladesh to make a documentary on the state of the country. As a long-time reporter in Bangladesh, I was delighted to take the job. But these are perilous times in my homeland. The government holds power with the help of fundamentalist Islamic groups that are changing Bangladesh’s secular character; local Hindus and Christians are fleeing to neighboring India in the thousands, and the authorities are furious at media reports that Bangladesh is playing host to jihadis from Afghanistan and beyond. Rather than address these concerns, the government has systematically muzzled journalists and opposition leaders who try to get the story out. Since October, more than 4,000 people have been arrested and 44 have died in custody during a government crackdown supposedly directed at organized crime and euphemistically called Operation Clean Heart.

In this environment, foreign reporters are routinely denied visas to Bangladesh. So Channel 4’s crew-British reporter Zaiba Malik and Italian cameraman Bruno Sorrentino-entered as tourists. The authorities were tipped off by a pro-Islamic daily, and we were tailed by police intelligence agents. On Nov. 25, Malik, Sorrentino and Bangladeshi interpreter Priscilla Raj were arrested at the border with India and charged with sedition. I wasn’t with them that day. Hearing of their arrest, I decided to lay low. I slept at a friend’s home and instructed my 18-year-old son to empty our house of my papers and to hide my hard drive. But the police were tapping my brother’s phone, and they heard me tell him where I was. They showed up at my friend’s flat at 3 a.m., and I went peacefully. The government charged me with sedition and conspiracy to defame the country.

At the police station, I was held in a 3-meter-by-4.5-meter cell with up to 15 other detainees. The conditions were foul. There was one squat toilet in the floor of the cell and neither soap nor drinking water. We were told to drink from the toilet tank. On the third day I got dysentery. We slept without blankets on the bare concrete floor. The mosquitoes were relentless.

We were given sodden rice and plain dhal to eat. Every few hours I would be woken up and pulled from the cell to answer questions. The same high-ranking officer who brandished his pistol would force me to sit on the floor with my legs extended so he could thrash my left kneecap with his baton. The police wanted a full accounting of the time I spent with the Channel 4 crew: the places we went, the sources we met. I had done nothing to be ashamed of, so I told them everything I knew.

A military intelligence agent present at these interrogations demanded to know where my hard drive was hidden. He threatened to hurt my son and wife. But I would not give up my life’s work.

Finally, after five days of interrogation, I was loaded into a police van and driven to a prison in Dhaka, where I was given a cell to myself with a sink and enough blankets to make a mattress. The prison hospital gave me painkillers for the throbbing in my knee. Compared to my treatment at the police station, this was luxurious. Then, after 50 days in custody, I was finally released on bail on Jan. 18, thanks in large part to pressure from Paris-based Reporters Without Borders and New York’s Center to Protect Journalists. But the police have yet to return my passport, credit cards, ATM card, mobile phone or address book. And I must still go before the courts to face the charges against me, which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. I am confident the High Court will acquit me of all charges.

The Channel 4 crew was deported back to Britain before Christmas without suffering physical abuse. But Raj has told me that her interrogators tortured her with electric shocks. Before the arrests, however, the Channel 4 team got 80% of their film footage out of the country. The documentary has yet to be broadcast, but if the world is able to see-and read-how Bangladesh is being transformed into a repressive nation, then the suffering and anxiety I and my family have endured will be worthwhile. But for now, I feel I have emerged from a small jail only to enter another, much larger prison.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mukto-mona/message/9630

JAMAAL HASAN WRITES TO SALEEM SAMAD

By Jamal Hasan

Dear Mr. Samad:

I just finished reading your piece on your life in mullatic native land. I am sorry to know the torture and mental anguish you faced in the prison of BNP-Jamaat jote.

Mr. Samad, a few of us were always apprehensive about the rise of defeated forces in Bangladesh. During the first AL government we felt, someday Jamaat would come back and show its diabolic face once again. After the poltiical change over of 1975 our prophecy was materializing step by step.

It was very unfortunate that prior to October 2001 election, a section of US government was sympathetic to the Bangladeshi fundies. But there was another section in US govt which was very much aware of the menacing role of the Islamists. Like in any other country there was constant competing roles in various US govt agencies. Anyway, the aftermath of 9/11 led the majority of US policy makers to come to one conclusion- global Islamic fundamentalism is a threat to mankind.

I tell you my friend, the Bangladeshi fundamentalists will hardly find any friend in US capital in the near future. Your ordeal is well publicized. Some of my friends took the time to circulate your story among various people of power and position in the US govt. Our struggle will continue till we see a dawn of liberty and freedom from the tyranny of dark ages.

Take care and wish you better days.

Sincerely yours,

Jamal Hasan

Note:

A whistle-blower of the secret arrival of the remnants of the Jihadist fleeing Afghanistan after its NATO invasion. His articles in TIME magazine, Tehelka.com and Daily TIMES on the export of Jihadists with full knowledge of the Bangladesh security services invited him trouble. He was twice detained and tortured by military security service (DGFI). He was imprisoned in 2002 for making a documentary for British Channel 4 on the rise of home-grown Islamic vigilante and appalling religious freedom situation. His detention and torture by dreaded DGFI invited international uproar and was released in early 2003. After his release DGFI kept him under surveillance. In 2007 the military-controlled government unilaterally relieved him of sedition charges and two foreign journalists. He has co-authored books and published numerous articles on conflict, terrorism, forced migration and ethnic crisis. After 5 years of painful life in exile he has planned to return home soon. Presently he is living in exile in Canada and unable to return home in fear of persecution.