SO-CALLED SIMPLICITY AND FALSEHOOD OF JAMAT-E-ISLAMI LEADERS
Leaders of Jamat-e-Islami – the main outfit of the killers, collaborators and war criminals of ’71 – are accustomed to expressing violent reactions whenever anything goes against them. Their recent fury following the filing of an extortion case against the party’s secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid in Sylhet is a case in point. Statements issued by both Jamat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and Mujahid himself regarding this issue have appeared in the press. Ironically, they have referred to deputy commissioners and police supers of their time in an attempt to demonstrate their integrity. Coalitionization and Jamatization of the administration during the four-party coalition government’s tenure is common knowledge. By referring to the civil servants of their time, they have indeed reminded us of an old Bengali adage, which figuratively means ‘one offender bears out another’.
Jamat leaders as well as the party’s rank and file boastfully claim that honest and upright politicians like them are rare in other political parties in Bangladesh. They want us to believe that they have never been involved in corruption or militant activities; the worthy stalwarts of their student wing (Shibir) have never laid their hands on opponents, let alone cut their tendons or kill them; they did not form such killing squads as Al-Badr, Al-Shams and Rajakars in ’71, nor did they abet the Pakistani occupation forces in committing all sorts of vandalism including genocide and violation of women.
The 8 May (07) issue of the widely circulated vernacular Daily Prothom Alo published a box item on the front page under the caption “Nizami’s undue recommendations ‘in good faith’ for his nephew’s business” saying that Jamat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, when he was the minister for industries, had recommended as many as five times in black and white that a business organization dealing in steel and iron be unjustifiably allowed to purchase goods from the nationa lized Chittagong Steel Mills Corporation. It is to be mentioned that the organization was a partnership co-owned by Nizami’s nephew Bakibul.
The former minister for industries has admitted to making those recommendations, ‘I didn’t know much about it. I made the recommendations in good faith and it was none of my purpose to necessarily award the deal to my nephew’.
On the other hand, Bakibul’s partner Mizanur Rahman has alleged that he (Bakibul) has used his uncle’s recommendations as a ruse and embezzled a sum of TK 2.5 million. According to Mizanur Rahman, Nizami himself had assured him of the deal and asked him to take care of his nephew.
Nizami’s recommendations were meant to avoid the bidding (tender) process and unduly let his nephew’s organization buy machineries, motors, cables and scrap iron from the Corporation that had recently been closed down. He made the same recommendations five times with chairpersons of Bangladesh Steel and Engineering Corporation (BSEC) and Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA).
It is evident from the Prothom Alo report that Nizami’s recommendations amount to (i) nepotism, (ii) unwarranted influence, and (iii) abuse of power, all of which constitute corruption. Should someone try to earn sympathy or treat such corrupt practices as legal on the pretext of ‘good faith’, I would, by the same token, say that whatever Tarique Zia, Lutfuzzaman Babar, Giasuddin Mamun and their cohorts have done, they have done it in ‘good faith’, and the government has put them behind bar for no faults of their own.
Nizami and his gang can involve themselves in any corrupt practices in good faith. When the media splashed the news of the brutality committed by militant JMB leader Bangla Bhai, when local leaders of Naogaon Jamat-e-Islami teamed up with Bangla Bhai and his gang, constituted Islamic Sharia Court, and killed anti-Jamat innocent people in the name of resisting outlaws, when the then prime minister herself ordered the arrest of Bangla Bhai, Jamat chief and the then minister for industries Motiur Rahman Nizami proclaimed in ‘good faith’ that Bangla Bhai was a fictitious character created by the media and he had no existence in reality.
Nizami’s claim was not endorsed even by his godfathers belonging to BNP who said that Bangla Bhai had done the right thing by waging a war against the outlaws. Not even BNP hardliners like Aminul, Alamgir, Dulu and Minu could deny the existence of Bangla Bhai and cook up a story making him the creation of the media. Being arrested in a bloody operation and subsequently walking the gallows, Bangla Bhai had to prove that he was not at all a creation of the media. He was just another ordinary human being, who used to heed the likes of Moududi, Nizami and Saiydee and feel tempted to engage in militancy, form Islamic Sharia Court, kill innocent people, and hang their mortal remains on trees or cut them into pieces and bury them in the ground.
All the major newspapers of the country have published a news item describing the cruelty recently suffered by a youth who came from the southern district of Barguna in the hands of Shibir on the Dhaka University campus. Coming from Barguna on 24 March (’07), Abrar – a first-year student of history – stayed in Zahurul Haq Hall in the room (# 361) of Shikdar Mujib, his brother’s childhood friend. Five days later, Mujib introduced Abrar to Tofazzal, hall unit president of Shibir. Afterwards, Tofazzal promised him a seat in the dorm and took him to a Shibir-run lodge (226 Elephant Road) at Katabon. There, he was forced to read a total of 15 books on militancy authored by, among others, Jamat leader Abul Aala Moududi, Jamat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami and assistant secretary general Qamruzzaman. He was told that unless he read them, he would not be able to get an accommodation in the dorm. When he refused to join Shibir after reading all these books, he was threatened with dire consequences. Finally on last Friday, when he was asked to swear allegiance to Shibir by touching the Holy Koran, he refused outright and was badly beaten. At one stage, he warily left the lodge in the dark, went to Surya Sen Hall, and shared his agony with a student, who came from the same region. Counselled by him, Abrar went to Shahbagh Police Station. However, the police refused to entertain the complaint without the consent of the concerned hall provost. Afterwards, he informed journalists of the matter and it appeared in the press. Only after the report was published did the police raid the dorm and arrest Shibir hoodlums Tofazzal, Shikdar Majid, Quddus and Jubayer at 8 pm last night. (The Daily Bhorer Kagoj, 7 May 2007)
This is how Shibir – student wing of Jamat-e-Islami – tempt/force helpless students coming from outside the capital to join the party. This is indeed one of their oldest strategies. Physical assaults do not suffice. We have observed time and again since the ’71 war of liberation how they assault innocent people and cold-bloodedly murder them. The killing of Professor Taher on the Rajshahi University (RU) campus is a recent example.
Jamat chief Nizami would arguably say that RU Shibir president Salehi has killed Professor Taher in ‘good faith’; Shibir thugs have assaulted Abrar in ‘good faith’, and neither the police nor the press should have been informed of these incidents. They believe that killing a dozen or two teachers and students is not much of a responsibility because their senior leaders could be absolved of their responsibility of killing three million Bengalis in ’71.
If what appears in the press is anything to go by, whenever Jamat-Shibir terrorists/killers are arrested and imprisoned, a particular segment of the administration becomes exceedingly active to bail them out. When I was imprisoned in Chittagong Jail during the BNP-Jamat
reign, I saw Shibir hoodlums accused of killing seven BCL (student wing of Awami League) activists serving prison terms next to my cell. They told me in ‘good faith’ that nothing would happen to them and they would manage to be bailed out sooner than later. And that’s exactly what happened in a short while. Top Shibir terrorist Gias Hajarika also was in jail at that time. In ‘good faith’ he said to me, ‘Look, I am an artiste. They’ve put me into the jail for nothing’. I retorted, ‘Well, I understand, you’re an artiste. How come you possess three AK-47 rifles?
Gias was nabbed while carrying arms. In unperturbed demeanour, he said, ‘I used to hunt fish in the ponds with the guns’. These are examples of the so-called goodness or ‘simplicity’ of Jamat-Shibir.
Since our childhood we have witnessed thousands of examples of ‘simplicity’ of Jamat-Shibir. They precisely know how to legalize murders, rapes, assaults and falsehoods in the name of Islam. Militancy and terrorism have become synonymous with Jamat-Shibir. This is evident from the
statements issued by different Islamic organizations in reaction to bomb attacks launched by Islamic militants. A statement issued on 5 May by the Bangladesh Tarikat
Federation said, ‘If the government and the administration are intent on rooting out militancy, how come Jamat-e-Islami remains unapproachable? Jamat and militancy are two sides of the same coin. … Islam and militancy must be treated in isolation. In fact, Islam has nothing to do with Wahabism or Moududism (preached by Jamat-e-Islami), which has a close bearing on militancy. (The Daily Inqilab, 5 May 2007)
The 3 May 2007 issue of the vernacular daily Janakantha published an article of mine titled Trial of war criminals and counter-militancy operations. The article was all about the link between militant Islamic organizations and Islamic Bank Bangladesh Ltd (IBBL), a bank owned and operated by Jamat-e-Islami stalwarts. It is to be recalled that the Bangladesh Bank (BB, central bank of Bangladesh) took some punitive measures against IBBL last year in connection with its militant links. IBBL has objected to my article. In a rejoinder published in the same daily on 5 May, IBBL said, ‘In connection with the submission of reports on questionable transactions (STR), BB took some punitive measures against different commercial banks including IBBL and asked for explanations from some other banks under the Money Laundering (Prevention) Act last year. As the guardian of commercial banks, BB often takes such routine measures. However, the writer has purposefully made mention of the IBBL and avoided mentioning the names of other commercial banks.
‘We would like to inform all concerned that IBBL does not support any sorts of militancy. Being involved in militant activities, facilitating militants’ transactions, or sponsoring their expenses is out of question for IBBL. …’We are quite aware of the evil nexus between militant fundamentalists and Jamat-owned IBBL, which was, among others, fined by BB for money laundering. As I do not have any information regarding militants’ transactions with other banks, I could not write anything about them. I had no ‘purpose’ behind it.
An investigation by the concerned intelligence department would reveal which militant outfits have bank accounts with which branches of IBBL. For the time being, I would like to cite one particular example here. It goes without saying that in Bangladesh Harkatul Jihad al- Islam (HUJI) is an outlawed militant organization, whose network is spread across a myriad of countries and regions including Myanmar, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. It was HUJI that imported militancy to Bangladesh.
There is a publication of HUJI Arakan Unit in my collection. The Urdu language book titled Tazkaraye Arakan was authored by HUJI Arakan international publications secretary Hazrat Mowlana Hafez Mohammad Siddique Arakani bin Mowlana Hasan Ali. Educated in Jamia Darul Ulum Kourangi in Karachi, Pakistan, this militant author has written in detail about jihad activities in Arakan and their network in Bangladesh in the said book, which was published by HUJI of Burma in 1997.
Tazkaraye Arakan ends with a conspicuous notice written in both Urdu and English, asking for generous monetary help for jihad in the name of Allah, Koran and Hadith. Grants have also been solicited for the organization’s mouthpiece, Monthly Al Barat. The notice mentions a bank account, to which donations are to be sent for jihad purposes. The account is in the name of HUJI founder Abdul Quddus Mujahid, who has returned from Afghanistan. Particulars of the account are as follows:
Account Number 28535
Islamic Bank Bangladesh Ltd
75 Motijheel C/A, Dhaka 1000
Given at the bottom of the notice is the mailing address.
In Bangladesh: P.O. Box 21, Cox’s Bazar.
In Pakistan: Islam Medical Centre, 36 Jhilandi, Karachi 30.
Also in my collection are a few old copies of the HUJI mouthpiece mentioned above. Would the IBBL management still claim that they have not heard of HUJI or Abdul
Quddus Mujahid, or that the account number and particulars cited above are all concocted? It will not be much of a surprise even if they claim so. We are aware of the way Jamat leaders affirm that they did not abet the Pakistani occupation forces in 1971 or form such killing squads as Rajakar, Al Badr and Al Shams. However ironic it may sound, they assert that it was the Awami League, and not Jamat-e-Islami, that slaughtered prominent intellectuals of the country in the wake of independence in ’71.
I would like to reiterate that the incumbent caretaker government has to take stern steps against those who are facilitating militants’ transactions and thereby inciting militancy, if it really wants to make its counter-militancy operation a success. The series bomb blasts in three major railway stations by ‘Jadid Al Qaeda’ on 1 May 2007 and the threats issued against non- government organizations (NGOs) and Ahmadiya (Quadiani) Muslim sect are nothing new. It has been ages since Jamat-e-Islami declared jihad against NGOs and Quadiani Muslims. As a sequel to it, Ahamadiya Muslims and NGOs have been attacked time and again, a large number of innocent people killed, offices, mosques, homes and hearths razed, bombed or set on fire in the last 12 years or so. The counter-militancy operation of the incumbent government shall not bear fruit as long as the godfathers of the militants and their financial institutions remain unapproachable.
9 May 2007