Thursday, July 26, 2007

former minister jailed for patronising islamist militants

A former Bangladeshi minister has been jailed for 31 years and six months today for aiding Islamic militants responsible for nationwide terror campaign to impose Sharia law.
Aminul Huq, telecommunications minister in the emergency-ruled country's most recent elected government, and 24 others were convicted and sentenced by a court in the northwestern town of Rajshahi in the first-ever judgment of a case for patronising Islamist militants.
They were found guilty of aiding and abetting the militants of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in extorting and torturing people in Bagmara upazila of the district in 2004.

The JMB, that banged to the fore by blating 400 bombs in all but one of the impoverished country's 64 districts on August 17, 2005, has been believed to be the brainchild of some ministers on the cabinet of the immediate past elected government headed by Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
About 30 people were killed and hundreds wounded later in powerful bomb attacks, many of which were carried out by suicide bombers in first such kind in the country.
The militants said their campaign was aimed at forcing Bangladesh to replace its Muslim but secular legal system, which dates back to the British colonial period, with traditional Islamic law.
Although it was open secret to Bangladesh people thanks to the brave investigations of the media, top government leaders denied outright any presence of the Islamist militants anywhere in the country and blamed the media for running 'imaginary stories'.
The government, a coalition of four political parties two of which are religion-based, had denied that senior members of the government had turned a blind eye to the activities of the extremists for political gain.
The government leaders, however, later said they had underestimated the threat from Islamists, and an ensuing crackdown saw some 1,000 JMB members arrested.
Top six leaders of the militant outfit, Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), were executed on March 31 for murdering two judges.
"Incidents of lynching people were almost open and common during the tenure of the previous [BNP-led four-party] alliance government and through such incidents the JMB militants not only took the law in their hands, but they expressed their no-confidence on the law of the land," judge Rezaul Islam said while delivering the verdict today.
Aminul not only blatantly patronised Islamist militants using the police and administration during the previous government's tenure but also barred local authorities to take action against the militants in 2004-05.
Since the open rise of Bangla Bhai-led militant organisation Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) in northern Rajshahi in 2004, The Daily Star in its continuous investigation in the past few years has revealed Aminul's role from the forefront as one of the key patrons of the militants.
Aminul, also former lawmaker of Rjshahi-1 constituency, and Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu, former lawmaker of Natore-2 and former deputy minister for land, jointly patronised the JMB in the region.
Related The Daily Star articles

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