RU teacher with 'militant link' operates in 42 districts |
Intelligence says he travelled to Afghanistan
Anwar Ali, Rajshahi
The Rajshahi University teacher with suspected 'militant links' visited Afghanistan, Pakistan and India several times during 1998-2002, using both fake and legal travel documents, intelligence sources said.
But Dr Muhammad Asadullah Al Galib, a professor at the Arabic department, yesterday told The Daily Star he did not travel to those countries for any armed training or meetings with members of international extremist groups.
However, Asadullah admitted that his Islamist outfit, Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (AHAB), operates in 42 districts with a mission of turning the country into an Islamic state.
"Of course, we have political ambitions for an Islamic state, but we do not follow traditional politics. We have our Islamic way of invitation and jihad, which are devoid of terrorism. We will continue our movement unto death," said the bearded man, whom the arrested Islamist militants in Bogra and Natore mentioned with awe as the linchpin in the recent spate of bombings in the northern region of the country.
Sitting in his Naodapara office in Rajshahi, Asadullah told The Daily Star that a vested quarter is out to link him with extremism and that he does not support terrorism in the name of jihad.
He has called a press conference for this morning and a countrywide demonstration to protest against the allegation of his involvement with militants.
Asadullah has been exposed in newspapers since 2000 for his alleged underground role in various Islamist militant groups.
His name first surfaced in 2000, when militant organisation 'Qital Fee Sabilillah' circulated leaflets calling AHAB its ally, and then again in 2001 after the bomb blast in a JMB den in Dinajpur.
In August 2003, police arrested 23 JMB men from Mohespur in Joypurhat after some 150 militants fought with police and looted three of their shotguns and 60 bullets. Several diaries and other documents left by the militants at Montajer's house (camp) also carried Asadullah's name.
Last Monday, 12 arrested militants of Jama'atul Mujahidin Bangladesh (JMB) in Natore, as well as Shafiqullah, a bomb squad member of Bangla Bhai's Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, admitted before magistrates that Asadullah was their leader.
Asadullah said he knew Bangla Bhai's spiritual leader, Abdur Rahman, very well. "Rahman is the son of Abdullah Ibne Fazal of Dinajpur. I helped him to study at Madina University, but he later derailed from mainstream Islam."
Replying to a question, he said he last met Rahman in 2000 and did not see him during any Bangla Bhai operations in Rajshahi, Natore and Naogaon.
Bangla Bhai's group belonged to AHAB, according to sources. The JMJB leader at Bogra and JMB activists at Natore confirmed that Asadullah used to visit them and inspire them to take action against NGOs and anti-Islamic activities.
Founded in 1978, AHAB now has three wings -- for youths, women and children -- as well as branches at the villages and upazilas of 42 districts.
Asadullah claimed that his organisations have been functioning legally with the financial assistance from abroad and that they have constructed several hundred mosques at various villages. He also runs a large madrasa built on 19 bighas of land at Naodapara, a NGO named Tawhid Trust and Ahle Hadith Foundation, a publication outfit.