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Ahab helped JMB build int'l links
Militant supremo Abdur Rahman established international links of his militant outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) with the help of Ahle Hadith Andolan, Bangladesh (Ahab) chief Asadullah al Galib, sources said. Evidence collected so far is so concrete that both Galib and Rahman must admit their links with two foreign militant trainers, Khaled and Javed, a reliable source told The Daily Star without elaborating. The trainer duo named Galib as their leader after they were arrested in Nepal in 1998, sources said.

The duo came to Bangladesh to train up Rohingya rebels in 1995 and stayed at Galib's Nawdapara den in Rajshahi. They were taken to a house in Arambagh in Dhaka on their way to Chittagong under Galib's supervision, sources said. The foreign militants first trained up Rohingyas and then local militants on Rahman's orders for four to six years. Sources said their primary target was to send the recruits to the Afghan war front as a backup force. The training ultimately focused on rearing militants inside the country following a decision by Galib and Rahman at a meeting at Sadrul Alam's house in Chittagong in 1998, investigators said. Galib's nephew Alam was trapped after the August 17 blasts last year.

Sources said Rahman went to Saudi Arabia for higher studies at Madina University on Galib's recommendation. Galib at a press conference before his arrest claimed he had no contacts with Rahman since his return from Madina. Galib at an Ahab conference in Rajshahi in 1997 introduced a number of guests from India, Pakistan, Nepal, the Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. The guests include Pakistani Nasser al Rahmani, an alleged leader of Saudi Hizbullah, who carries a bounty of $5 million declared by FBI for his link to al Qaeda. Galib also introduced Abdul Matin Salafi, Maolana Abdul Wahab Khiljee of Punjab, Ahle Hadith leader Abdullah Salafi of Murshidabad from India and Abdullah Abdut Tawat Al Madani from Nepal. Though Salafi was banished from Bangladesh in 1988, he took part in the Ahab meet in 1997. Investigators have found Galib had a joint bank account with him in 1989-90.

A leader of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) in 2004 told The Daily Star about 20 of their leaders and activists worked with al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Bangladesh funds terror donor
Just days before the Nov 29 carnage on two court premises, the government gave consent to release a fund of about Tk 2 crore to the Bangladesh branch of a Kuwaiti non-governmental organisation (NGO), Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), which is at the top of the list of suspected donors to Islamic militants in the country.

The funds are for training imams, and for building mosques and madrasas, said sources in the Bureau of NGO Affairs.

Earlier an intelligence report suggested the government to ban the RIHS, and suspected Ahle Hadith Andolon Bangladesh (Ahab) of channelling the NGO's funds to the banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

According to the US Treasury Department's web site, as part of the US government's financial war on terror it added the RIHS to its list of "Specially Designated Global Terrorists", in January 2002. In addition, the group's directors were added to the terrorist list.

The same organisation was also added to the "Terrorist Exclusion List" of the US government. Any person known to have association with a listed organisation such as the RIHS is currently barred from entering the US.

According to Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd (IBBL) sources however, RIHS started distributing the freshly released fund on Nov 29 among its contractors. It is being disbursed through bearer cheques instead of account payee ones, which makes it easier for just about anyone bearing the cheques to withdraw money from the bank. Observers fear that the process of disbursement may make it easier for the militants to channel fund for their activities.

Among the contractors are some associates of the arrested militant leader Asadullah Al Galib and his second-in-command Abdus Samad Salafi, said a reliable source.

The fund was released after RIHS' regional director general for Asia, Abu Khaled Falah Al Mutairee and its country director general, Abdul Aziz Khalaf Maalullah, both Kuwaiti citizens, lobbied the government till Nov 25 during their six-day visit to Bangladesh, said sources.

Staying in a Banani guesthouse and maintaining secrecy, they met high-ranking leaders of the ruling alliance, leaders of Ahab, and some officials of the Kuwait Embassy, NGO bureau, and of several other Middle Eastern NGOs.

NGO bureau sources said the Kuwaiti officials visited the country with the government's consent and they wanted to know the government's stance on the RIHS.

They convinced the government to release the fund that had been remitted from Kuwait as the RIHS supposedly has to pay its unpaid bills of Tk 12 crore accrued since 2003 for training Imams, constructing mosques and madrasas, and for installing tube-wells in the country.

The government never even conducted any spot-investigation of these projects, said a source.

Release of RIHS funds was suspended after the arrests of Galib, and Samad Salafi in February following investigation reports revealing links among escalating Islamic militant violence in the country, RIHS constructed mosques, and the Imams trained by the NGO.

The Dayee and Imam (Daoa) division of the RIHS and the Higher Islamic Education Institute run by it at Uttara in Dhaka were also shut down by the government three months ago.

In July however, funds for different orphanages under the organisation were released on humanitarian grounds.

Several days ago the NGO bureau following government's nod sent its clearance to the Rajlaxmi Market branch of IBBL at Uttara to release the fund of Tk 2 crore against RIHS' savings account.

However, NGO bureau Director General CQK Mustak Ahmed told The Daily Star on Thursday that the government never stopped funds of any NGO on allegations of terror financing. He also said he did not have information about any NGO funding militant activities.

But bank sources told The Daily Star over phone that about Tk 15 lakh from the fund has already been disbursed through a large number of bearer cheques since November 29. “Large number of cheques for small amounts are coming in everyday", said an IBBL official.

Regarding the contractors of the RIHS, sources said among over 30 listed contractors, most did not get contracts while a few chosen by Galib and Samad Salafi used to get contracts involving large amounts of money.

If the ones without blessings from the top two Ahab bosses would get any contract at all, it would never be for more than Tk 1 lakh while Galib's man Nurul Islam, general secretary of Ahab, got the contract for construction of Gazipur Ahab School near the Ahab orphanage involving Tk 90 lakh. He was arrested along with Galib, but his cheques will be given to a person authorised by him, said sources.

Galib also used to get RIHS contracts through his nephew (sister's son) Badrul Alam of Satkhira. Badrul's elder brother Sadrul Alam was arrested in connection with the August 17 blasts in Chittagong.

For Samad Salafi, his son-in-law Azizul Bari Mintu, chairman of Nashipur Union Parishad under Gabtali upazila in Bogra, Akmal Hussain of Chapainawabganj and Ahab leader Moffakker Hossain used to get RIHS contracts.

Sources said Mintu used to lobby the BNP high-ups for Ahab and RIHS as he had developed relations with them because of his chairmanship of Nashipur, the home union of BNP's founder also former president of the country late Ziaur Rahman.

The RIHS and Muslim Aid however, in two separate rejoinders to The Daily Star report dated November 26 and headlined "Terror Financing NGOs Remain Unscathed", denied allegations of their links with Islamist militants. The rejoinder termed the report as false, baseless and motivated.

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