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Unmasking western politicians: Cash-for-influence deals with a convicted terrorist leader

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research scholar, and counterterrorism specialist. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers.

A large number of politicians in the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union are selling their influence in exchange for influence and favors to an undesignated terrorist organization in Bangladesh and its leader, who is a convicted terrorist as well involved in cross-border terrorism. For years, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ideological ally Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) have been spending millions of dollars in influencing lawmakers in the Western countries, in which, recently the BNP has appointed Hunter Biden as its lobbyist with the assignment of using Biden administration’s influence in unseating the ruling secularist government of Awami League and helping BNP in returning to power.

Acting chairman of BNP, Tarique Rahman is a convicted terrorist as well he also is convicted in another case of cross-border terrorist act for his direct involvement of funding and patronizing insurgency groups inside India.

Major General Gaganjit Singh, former Deputy Director General of India’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), said BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman was the mastermind of 10 truck arms haul in Chattogram [Chittagong] in 2004.

Talking to India Today and a television channel in Bangladesh, he said the arms were being supplied under direct patronization of the then BNP-Jamaat alliance to use Bangladesh as a sanctuary.

Ten trucks full of arms seized at Chittagong in April 2004 were meant not only for the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) but also for a few other rebel groups in India’s northeast to destabilize the country, he added. The arms were being supplied by taking advantage of the BNP-Jamaat alliance to use Bangladesh as a sanctuary, Singh revealed.

It may be mentioned here that, on August 21, 2004, at the direct instructions of Tarique Rahman, terrorists of BNP along with members of militancy outfits such as Harkat-ul-Jihad (HuJI) had launched grenade attacks targeting Sheikh Hasina and leaders of Awami League. According to the court verdict, this gruesome attack was a well-orchestrated plan through abuse of state power.

And all the accused, including BNP Senior Vice Chairman (now acting chairman) Tarique Rahman and former top intelligence officials, were found guilty and handed down various punishments for the grenade attacks that killed 24 people and injured scores. In the murder case, Tarique Rahman and 18 others were sentenced to life in prison.

According to court documents published by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) dated December 16, 2016, while giving verdict to an asylum petition of a BNP activist, an Immigration Judge in the United States found the petitioner to be credible but concluded that he was ineligible for asylum and withholding of removal due to his inadmissibility under section 212(a)(3)(B)(i)(VI) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)(i)(VI), as a member of the BNP – which the Immigration Judge deemed to be an undesignated terrorist organization under section 212(a)(3)(B)(vi)(III) of the Act (I.J. at 3-6).2 But for the respondent’s inadmissibility under section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Act, the Immigration Judge would have granted the respondent’s application for asylum under section 208(b) of the Act based on showings of past persecution and a well-founded fear of future persecution in Bangladesh on account of his political opinion (I.J. at 6-9; Exh. 3 at 5; Tr. at 10, 22-40).

According to the Department of Justice, Tier III terrorist organizations are also called “undesignated terrorist organizations” because they qualify as terrorist organizations based on their activities alone without undergoing a formal designation process like Tier I and Tier II organizations.

Terrorist agenda of Bangladesh Nationalist Party

Bangladesh Nationalist Party from its very birth under military dictator General Ziaur Rahman has been vigorously pushing-forward anti-India, anti-Hindu and pro-Islamist agenda with the aim of turning Bangladesh into another Afghanistan or Pakistan. During BNP’s rule of 2001-2006, supporters of this party were seen openly chanting slogans Aamra Hobo Taliban, Bangla Hobey Afghan (We shall become Taliban, Bangla will turn into Afghanistan) and burning American flags on the streets of Dhaka and other major cities.

Furthermore, BNP had directly sponsored and patronized Islamist militancy outfit Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) while it was maintaining direct links with Harkat-ul Jihad (HuJI), Khatmey Nabuwat Movement (an anti-Ahmadia outfit) and were behind terrorist acts targeting religious minorities such as Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Ahmadis and others.

It may be mentioned here that Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami is believed to have been founded as an offshoot of a Pakistani group in 1992 with money and support from suspected global terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. United Nations Security Council has termed Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islam as a “violent extremist group operating throughout South Asia, which has carried out numerous terrorist attacks in India and Pakistan”.

It further said, “HUJI’s relationship with Al-Qaida developed after the Taliban’s rise in Afghanistan, and included its members training in Al-Qaida camps. By 2005, Mohammad Ilyas Kashmiri (deceased), a HUJI leader, coordinated activities with the Taliban and Al-Qaida from Waziristan. Kashmiri issued a statement in October 2009 (after he had been reported as deceased) that he was alive and working with Al-Qaida. By 2010, a significant number of HUJI operatives were involved in terrorist operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan”.

Western intelligence officials believe a certain Fazlul Rahman, who signed bin Laden’s February 23, 1998, declaration of holy war on the US on behalf of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh, is an associate of the now independent group.

For years, terrorist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islam (HuJI), Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB), Ansar Al Islam, Hizbut Tahrir and others have been receiving patronization from Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), while has also been extending patronization and funding to several separatist and terrorist groups inside India, including United Liberation Front of Assom (ULFA), Hizbul Mujahideen etcetera.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party has also been maintaining deeper ties with Hefazat-e- Islam (HeI), a Quranic madrasa-based organization that demands transforming a secularist Bangladesh into a caliphate. Under direct patronization of BNP, in 2013 HeI pressed its 13-point demand through a massive rally in Dhaka, which was attended by hundreds and thousands of madrassa teachers and students. The 13-points of the pro-caliphate Islamist group includes:

  1. Restore the phrase “Complete faith and trust in the Almighty Allah” in the constitution,

2. Pass a law in parliament keeping a provision of the capital punishment of death sentence to prevent defaming Islam,

3. Taking measures for stringent punishment of self-declared atheists and bloggers, and anti-Islamists who made derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad. Also taking steps to stop the spread of “propaganda”,

4. Stopping infiltration of all “alien-culture”, including “shamelessness” in the name of individual’s freedom of expression, anti-social activities, adultery, free mixing of males and females and candle-lighting. Women must be encouraged to wear hijab and their overall security must be ensured. Stopping harassment of women, open fornication and adultery, sexual harassment, all forms of violence against women and an end to the tradition of dowry,

5. Make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels canceling the women policy and anti-religion education policy,

6. Officially declare Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslim,

7. Stopping erection of sculptures at intersections, schools, colleges and universities across the country,

8. Lifting restrictions on prayers for ulema [read radical Islamic militants] in all mosques across the country, including Baitul Mukarram National Mosque,

9. Stopping Anti-Islamic content in media,

10. Halt to anti-Islam activities by NGOs across the country, including in the Chittagong Hill Tracts; Hefazat fears a “foreign conspiracy” to separate Chittagong Hill Tracts from Bangladesh and make it a Christian state,

11. Stop attacks and extrajudicial killing of ulema [read radical Islamic militants],

12. Stopping harassment of teachers and students of Qawmi [Koranic] madrassas and ulema,

13. Freedom for all arrested ulema and madrassa students and withdrawal of all cases filed against them, compensation for the victims, and bringing the assailants to justice. The above 13-points pressed by Hefazat-e-Islam resembles that of Afghan Taliban and members of radical Islamic militancy outfits such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS).

Western policymakers and security agencies are not unaware of this disturbing fact of connection between the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Islamist-jihadist outfits in Bangladesh. They also are not unaware of BNP being an undesignated terrorist organization or its leader Tarique Rahman being a convicted terrorist who also is linked to cross-border terrorist acts.

Still a section of the western lawmakers are unhesitant in accepting lobbyist assignments from BNP and help this party in returning to power thus turning Bangladesh into a neo-Taliban state.

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research scholar, and counterterrorism specialist. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers.
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