March 27, 2009

The British Connection

On March 25 Bangladesh was shocked by a massive arms haul in a madrassa and orphanage in Bhola. The ten acre compound was situated in a remote place in Bohranuddin Upazila and was fortified by a 'drawbridge' over a large pond leading to the Madrassa entrance. There were 11 children between the ages of 7 and 8 at the compound during the raid by the Elite force RAB, which arrested four people including a teacher. All the three rooms of teachers’ dormitory of the militant den, were mainly used for storing arms and ammunition. General people were not allowed to enter the area and they only knew that orphans were taught there.(More here)

The arms recovery included four handguns, four shotguns, 3000 bomb 'splinters', 900 bullets, eight magazines, two binoculars, two remote-control devices, six life jackets, 20 facemasks, two walkie-talkies and as many mobile phones. A number of books on Jihad were also recovered. (BDNews24)

The recovery also indicates they [the militants] have all equipment necessary to make IEDs. (The Daily Star)

The Madrasa and Orphanage was funded by Green Crescent an UK based charity and its founder, chairman and head trustee is Faisal Mostafa, a Bangladeshi-British. And it has been funding different such establishments in different parts of Bangladesh and in Pakistan. In 2008, Green Crescent had a turnover approaching £70,000 (US$102,733).

Times Online UK reports:
The family of Dr Mostafa, 45, who has a chemistry degree and a PhD in metals corrosion, said yesterday that he had set up the orphanage because of a humanitarian desire to help poor children.
However the report reveals the other side of Dr. Mostafa:
Dr Mostafa was acquitted in February 2002 of plotting with Moinul Abedin, also Bangladeshi-born, to cause explosions. Both were arrested in Birmingham. Abedin was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

He was acquitted of a similar explosives charge in 1996 after a trial at Manchester Crown Court. Prosecutors claimed explosives were found at his home. But he was found guilty of illegally possessing a firearm, sentenced to four years in prison and banned for life from possessing a firearm.

In July last year he was arrested at Manchester airport for trying to board an aircraft with a pistol in his suitcase. He checked in with the component parts of a gas-powered pistol and primers in his luggage as he and his family were intending to fly to Dubai.He claimed that it was to be used for hunting and fishing, and was given a suspended sentence.

The Daily Mail quoted Saeed Mahmood, of Stockport-based charity Human Appeal International:
'Faisal comes in every few months about mainland projects in Bangladesh. We only work with organisations that are registered with the Charity Commission so we had no idea about these allegations.'
Sid at Unheard Voice writes:
If the Green Crescent charity has indeed been involved in militant activity, this will reflect very poorly on the Charity Commission – particularly given that Mostafa, the head of the charity, had previously been put on trial twice for terrorist offences. Ineffectiveness by the Charity Commission in identifying and tackling extremist charities leads to the British taxpayer directly subsiding militancy and extremism.

It is worth noting that “fundathons” on Bangladeshi satellite TV channels such as BanglaTV and Channel S raise hundreds of thousands of pounds by Islamic organisations. These groups often have no track record of charity work in Britain or are even registered by the Charity Commission. Audience members simply donate money in all sincerity hoping that these funds will be used on well-deserved Muslim causes. Where are these funds actually going to and what use are these large amounts of money being put to?
Bangladesh Finance minister AMA Muhith said that "the large number of NGOs" approved by the then social welfare minister and Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed, would be audited meticulously.

The Daily Prothom Alo reported that Mostafa is a nephew of the influencial BNP leader and ex Minister Hafizuddin. Its ironical that he is still at large in Bangladesh and he is yet to be charged (via Himu).

The worrying news is that the UK NGO was about to open two more charities in Bangladesh.


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