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Rajshahi mayor-elect visits den of militant kingpin
Even before taking oath, Rajshahi mayor-elect and Awami League leader AHM Khairuzzaman Liton has drawn considerable controversy for his activities like visiting the den of militant-kingpin Asadullah Al Galib.
File under "best government money can buy."
Referring to the visit, even his party men say he bagged votes from many of Galib's followers. They add Liton during campaign avoided clearing his stance on militancy fearing impact on his vote tally and now made the visit.

He visited central offices of Galib's outfit Ahle Hadith Andolon, Bangladesh (Ahab), its youth front Ahle Hadith Jubo Sangha (AHJS) and Ahab-run Al Markajul Islami As-Salafi Madrasa in Nawdapara on Sunday and was accorded a reception.

An AHJS press release says Liton in his speech observed that Ahab and AHJS [suspected militant outfits] leaders and workers faced atrocities during BNP-Jamaat rule as Galib and his men were detained over "false" accusation. The release also claims Liton demanded Galib's release as none of the cases against him was proved.

Acting Ahab Ameer Shayekh Abdus Samad Salafi chaired the reception. Ahab Organising Secretary and AHJS Central President ASM Azizullah were present. Salafi and Azizullah were arrested with Ahab chief Galib in February in 2005 on charge of scheming militancy and the outfit's connections with different international militant outfits.

Among others, councillor-elect Shahadat Hossain Sahu, Ahab-run monthly At Tahreek editor Dr Muhammad Shakhawat Hussain and Rajshahi Ahab chief Abul Kalam Azad were present during the reception.

Some arrested militants of the outlawed Jama'atul Mujahideen, Bangladesh (JMB) across the country have named Galib as their supreme leader.

"He [Liton] has now become mayor of all citizens and so he can look after everyone's well-being. But the news is alarming if the mayor's relation with militant outfits is deep," said Rajshahi district Awami League chief Tajul Islam M Faruk.

"We wanted a clear stance regarding militancy from the mayor hopefuls before the election. As none of them gave us [voters] their opinion, they are now taking the opportunity," said Abdul Bari, a voter and victim of JMB torture.

Liton also drew flak from party men for visiting the house of Rafi-us Shams, a former general secretary of Rajshahi District Sports Association on August 6. Shams is an accused in a graft case for misappropriation of around Tk 22 lakh from the association fund.

Militant outfit Ahab demands Galib's release
Call them Ishmael...
Leaders of militant outfit Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (Ahab) yesterday demanded release of Ahab chief Dr Asadullah Al Galib, denying allegations of their links to international terrorist organisation al Qaeda and banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) as well as their secret activities in a peacekeeping mission of Bangladesh army abroad. "Whatever be the allegations, we are not involved anyway in militancy," acting Ahab chief Dr Mohammad Muslehuddin claimed at a press conference in the city.
"No, no! Certainly not!"
He however did not substantiate his claim and failed to answer properly queries from journalists.

Categorically blaming Jamaat-e Islami for militancy in the country, the Ahab leader said, "There is no need to find out who are behind militancy. They (Jamaat) themselves confessed to such crimes. Has Nizami (Jamaat chief and minister Motiur Rahman Nizami ) been arrested although most people and organisations are holding him responsible (for militancy)?" In an oblique reference to Jamaat, he said political vengeance of an Islamic party was responsible for arrests of Galib and other Ahab leaders.

Muslehuddin, a Madina University scholar and teacher at Chittagong Islamic University established by the suspect Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), said false propaganda by some expelled Ahab leaders, newspaper reports and wrong intelligence reports also led to arrests of Ahab leaders. "Intelligence agencies of our country appear to be ever asleep , we doubt if they are alerted even after August 17 (countrywide blasts," he said.

The press conference was attended by, among others, Ahab General Secretary Abdul Wadud, Galib-run Al Tahreek editor Dr Sakhawat Hossain, Ahle Hadith Jubo Sangha (AHJS) acting President Kabirul Islam and Rajshahi Ahab President Abul Kalam Azad.

Asked how he can deny Ahab links to Al Qaeda when Osama Bin Laden's close associate Sheikh Abdullah Nasser Al Rahmani of Pakistan was welcomed at an Ahab conference, Muslehuddin said, "We invited him as a famous alem (Islamic scholar)." Criticising the US, Muslehuddin said, " Someone's being on America's list of terrorists does not mean one is a terrorist." At a 1997 Ahab conference, Galib named a number of guests from India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, including Nasser Al Rahmani, an alleged leader of Saudi Hizbullah. US Federal Bureau of Investigation announced rewards of $5 million for his arrest. On the presence of Abdul Matin Salafi from India, who was expelled from Bangladesh in 1988 for militancy, Muslehuddin said, "We invite people irrespective of ideologies and anyone can address our annual conference." He kept mum when asked how Matin Salafi can be 'anyone' when Galib had a joint account with him at Motijheel Branch of Islami Bank Bangladesh between July 1989 and May 1990 (after his expulsion). Matin Salafi helped Galib collect funds and establish links to militants abroad, especially in the Middle East and South Asia, investigators said.

Afghanistan/South Asia
Bangla: Galib denied bail again
A weary looking Asadullah Al Galib, chief of Ahle Halith Andolan, was denied bail yesterday by the Gaibandha magistrate court in two consecutive bomb blast cases. He was later sent to Gopalganj, where he will face a nine-day remand. It was the second time Galib appeared before the Gaibandha magistrate court in connection with the bomb cases. At the same time, 15 other militants arrested in the same cases were also produced before court.

Galib's defence laywer, Sirajul Islam Babu, had prayed for bail, but after it was denied the court fixed a bail hearing date on March 20. Appearing sick and depressed, Galib appealed to the magistrate for three days of rest. The Magistrate denied, however, ordering him to submit a petition through the jailer. Galib was brought to Gaibandha from the Joint Interrogation Cell (JIC) in Dhaka on March 19, ending a ten-day police remand as granted by the Gaibandha Magistrate court on March 9. Sirajul Islam Babu, Galib's lawyer, met briefly with him in the court hazat to discuss the progress of the cases. Galib was also visited at the court hazat by his son, Ahmed Abdullah Najib. Shamsul Alam, the former president of Ahle Hadith Jubo Sangha, Rajshahi University said, "He (Galib) is the victim of a conspiracy from his opponents and also incorporated in false cases."

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