This news story broke yesterday via the Bangladeshi newspaper, the Daily Star:
In a chilling reminder of how the militants are still alive and kicking, the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) yesterday unearthed a mini-ammunition factory inside a madrasa-cum-orphanage in a remote village of Bhola.
During the bust, they recovered a huge cache of firearms and ammunition, explosive substances, four pairs of German-made uniforms and booklets on jihad, Moulana Moududi and al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
Besides, the elite crime-busters arrested four suspected militants–Abul Kalam, Abdul Halim, Jasim and Moulana Mohammad Russell.
Earlier at night, the coastal district’s Superintendent of Police Azizur Rahman told The Daily Star that the arrestees did not yet disclose their organisational identity. But the materials seized suggest they are lined to a banned Islamist group like Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
The raid of a madrassa (seminary) run by a banned Bangladeshi jihadist group called the JMB is significant. The madrassa-orphanage was a cover for a small explosives and ordinances factory. But what is quickly established is a British link to this story.
The Green Crescent Madrassah is directly funded by the UK charity, the Green Crescent. The charity lists one Faisal Mostafa of Stockport as trustee and first point of contact of Green Crescent. Mostafa holds a PhD in chemistry from Manchester Polytechnic and was known to security forces in Britain.
Faisal Mostafa has a record of arrests, brushes with the law and lucky escapes which go back to 1996. He has twice been tried by British courts on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks in the UK. In 1996 he was arrested and tried for conspiring to cause explosions after chemicals, timers and detonators were discovered his house. Six year later, he was acquitted of this charge (after claiming he was writing a book on explosives) but was found guilty of possessing a pistol with intent to endanger life. In 2000, he was arrested again and charged with planning to cause explosions after police discovered a large cache of explosives in Birmingham. In 2002, he was acquitted of this charge â€“ although his co-defendant was convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for the same charge.
In July 2008 he was stopped at Manchester Airport as he tried to board a plane to Bangladesh with gas-powered pistol and bullet parts in his luggage. He said the gun was a gift for his brother, adding that he was going on a hunting and fishing trip with wife and three children. The charge carried a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment but he was sentenced to 56 days in jail, suspended for two years and 100 hours’ community service.
This is what an aeronautical engineer friend tells me: “In the 2002 case, he told the jury that the chemicals/explosives were to make fireworks. Luckily for him, the jury didn’t know that according to the 1875 Explosives Act, no ‘gunpowder’ (propellants, pryrotechnics or explosives) can be manufactured outside a licenced factory, approved by the HSE Explosives Unit in Bootle, Liverpool. So, that’s a criminal offence in itself. Besides, HMTD isn’t a chemical used in fireworks.”
So what was going on?
Although the Bangladeshi security services are only in the early stages of investigating the Bhola orphanage and its links to the Green Crescent charity, the evidence so far indicates that there are substantial links between this British charity and Bangladeshi Islamist militants.
If the Green Crescent charity has indeed been involved in militant activity, this will reflect very poorly on the UK Charity Commission â€“ 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 and quite often, not even registered by the Charity Commission. TV viewers simply donate money in good faith, hoping that their hard-earned cash will be used on well-deserving causes.
Where are these funds actually going to and what use are these large amounts of money being put to? I am not aware if Green Crescent have ever raised funds via these TV channels however. ITN reports that it raised Â£60,000 last year.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Islamists,Muslim,Organisations,Terrorism