Vol. 5 Num 443 Wed. August 24, 2005  
Front Page

Serial Bombing
Arrested moulana points finger at Nizami
Fund sources of militants being probed

Former Islamic Foundation director Moulana Fariduddin Masud, detained for suspected links to the August 17 blasts, yesterday accused Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer and Industries Minister Motiur Rahman Nizami of involvement in the countrywide explosions.

Meantime, the home ministry ordered the intelligence agencies to investigate the income sources and expenditures of the NGOs allegedly sponsored by some Middle Eastern countries.

A reliable government source said all bank accounts of Masud are being frozen.

"Vital clues to the blasts will come out if Nizami is grilled," Masud said when police yesterday produced him before a Dhaka court amid tight security and petitioned for him to be taken on a seven-day remand.

The Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Dhaka placed him on a five-day remand.

A day into his arrest at Zia International Airport (ZIA), airport police yesterday showed Masud arrested in the August 17 blasts case

filed with Airport Police Station.

In the forwarding report placed before the court, they said a bomb was detonated near a dustbin adjacent to ZIA Concourse Hall at around 11:25am August 17. A reliable and secret investigation reveals Masud's links to the blast.

He is a central leader of banned Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and under his leadership the bomb was blasted, said the report.

Accusing Masud of providing funds for the countrywide blitz of handmade bombs, police said they need to quiz him further to obtain leads about the incident and the whereabouts of his cohorts.

Advocates Mojibul Haq Chunnu and Abdul Majid submitted a petition for Masud's bail and cancellation of the remand prayer.

They told the court that their client was framed as part of a conspiracy to harass him politically. The government arrested him for narrow political gains and to satisfy ruling coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami. He was held also to distract people's attention from the real culprits in the blasts.

On hearing both the sides, Metropolitan Magistrate Shafiq Anwar rejected the bail petition and granted a five-day remand.

Saying the investigation is at primary stage, the court directed the investigation officer (IO) to interrogate Masud with caution. The IO will take necessary steps for his treatment if he falls sick.

Masud at that time told the court that he has always worked for peace and prosperity of the country. "I've taken part in an anti-terrorism conference in England and delivered a speech on the issue on several occasions. I've also written several books against terrorism."

He said the police, abetted by Nizami, arrested him to divert people's attention from the August 17 blasts. Vital clues to the blasts will come out if Nizami is interrogated well, he observed.

"Nizami was directly involved in the explosions," Masud told the court.

The home ministry yesterday said police have arrested Masud to find out foreign links, if any, to the August 17 attacks.

"Reports have it that he had brought funds from some foreign countries last year and in years before. Police will quiz him to know where he has spent the money,"Mohammad Mohsin, joint secretary (political)of home ministry, said yesterday while briefing reporters about the developments in the blasts probe.

Meanwhile, while visiting Masud-established Malibagh Madarasa, madrasa-cum-cadet school Ikra Bangladesh, and NGO Islahul Muslemin Parishad Bangladesh in Rampura, The Daily Star correspondent talked to some of his close associates. They said they fear Masud might have been arrested for his anti-Jamaat stance and statements.

"He took an ideological stance against Jamaat and used to make statements openly against the way the party interprets Islam. He always strives to make an exact interpretation of Islam," Abul Fatah Mohammad Yahya, vice principal of Malibagh Madrasa, told The Daily Star.

Masud has always opposed the interpretation of Islam by Moulana Abul Ala Moududi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami. Masud also penned books against Jamaat and Moududi, he said.

"He opposed Jamaat in an organised way and pointed out to his followers the flaws in Jamaat's interpretation of Islam," Fatah added.

Visiting Ikra Bangladesh and Islahul Muslemin, this correspondent found all the officials to have fled. Panicked, a few students who have yet to leave declined to speak with The Daily Star.

Some hand-written and printed posters highlighting quotes from Masud's speech were found posted on the walls. Besides, there were posters of Islahul Muslemin and Lajnatut Talaba Bangladesh, but nothing could be known about the latter.

Newspaper reports that Masud was an advisor of Ulama League, a platform of the main opposition Awami League (AL), were found to be wrong.

"It is totally baseless. In fact, there is no legal formation of Ulama League," AL's Secretary of Religious Affairs Sheikh Mohamad Abdullah said yesterday.

"We don't have any front by the name of Ulama League. We've heard about a number of organisations having the name, but Awami League does not own or approve [of] any of those," he said, adding that Masud has no relation or connection with the AL.

The home ministry yesterday said so far 150 people have been arrested in connection with the August 17 blasts.

Of them, Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested eight, Chittagong Metropolitan Police 12, Khulna Metropolitan Police three, Rajshahi Metropolitan Police nine, Dhaka Range Police 13, Chitttagong Range Police 16, Rajshahi Range Police 62, Khulna Range Police eight, Barisal Range Police eight and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) 11.

"A team of experts (meant for those in Joint Interrogation Cell) have so far quizzed 29 people in Dhaka. Seven of them have been released after it was learnt that they did not have any links to the blasts," Joint Secretary Mohammad Mohsin said.

Another arrestee was brought to Dhaka yesterday while two others from Satkhira will be brought today, he said.

He described the progress in the blasts investigation as 'good'.

Police take Moulana Fariduddin Masud, former director of Islamic Foundation, to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, Dhaka, yesterday. PHOTO: STAR