The mysterious financiers of JMB

 A.H. Jaffor Ullah

Published on April 02, 2006


You don�t have to be a rocket scientist to know that nothing moves in this world without money.  Therefore, wherefrom JMB goons had received their financing to do all their diabolic activities that include the wanton killing in rural Bangladesh throughout 2004.


I was reading an article written in Bangla on March 6, 2006, in Dhaka�s vernacular newspaper �Ajker Kagoj.�  Today�s was a hot issue.  Many articles were written on �Bangla Bhai� Siddiqul Islam and Shaikh Abdur Rahman�s arrest dramas.  However, one article that I found to be interesting was on the financiers of militant JMB.  It was mentioned that a Sylheti Bangladeshi by the name Imran Rashid (or Rashed) Chowdhury who lives in England and work for Microsoft (England) had donated a large sum of money to JMB.  Another person, Waliur Rahman, who is the younger brother of Shaikh Abdur Rahman, from Middle East also financed the JMB�s all kinds of odious activities throughout Bangladesh.


According to the Bangla newspaper, Ajker Kagoj, these financiers from abroad used to send money through Sonali Bank, Islamic Bank, and Al-Baraka Bank.  Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai maintained several accounts in their names.  And so did other Islamists associated with JMB.  This information came out on the heels of the recent dramatic and spellbound arrest of Shaikh Rahman, the chief of JMB.  The complexity of the stories of JMB leaders and their symbiotic relationship with the ruling four-party government beats the story of Mahabharata.


The Sylheti financier, Mr. Imran Chowdhury, we learn from the news story is the nephew of Bangladesh�s one-time speaker, Humayun Rashid Chowdhury.  His profession was listed in the newspaper as engineer (probably a software engineer).


The name of Imran Chowdhury rings the bell in me.  During 1997-98 long before E-forums came into vogue in the Internet, some of us the secularists used to debate with Islamists from Bangladesh and Pakistan.  I distinctly remember the name of Imran Chowdhury who used to say often that Islam should be purified in Bangladesh.  I am not certain whether this Imran Chowdhury who used to debate with us endlessly is the same person who had financed the JMB operation.  I remember very well that Imran once wrote � he was an IT or computer expert.  The netigens of the Internet in 1997 were computer savvy people in those early days of World Wide Web.  For some strange reason Imran Chowdhury stopped coming to our forum.  He simply vanished into the thin air!  I did search the Google to find what Imran Chowdhury is up to these days but without any luck.    


Now, let me write few sentences about the banks that were in cahoots with the Islamists in Bangladesh.  It is natural that Islamic Bank or Al-Baraka Bank would be sympathetic to Islamists� causes.  But why the Sonali Bank?  It beats me! 


In January 2001, I wrote an editorial which was published by Dhaka�s Daily Star.  In late December 2000, Bangladesh�s High Court had finally given its verdict on legality of Fatwa, the religious edict.  Two judges declared that Fatwa was illegal in Bangladesh.  I wrote my commentary congratulating the judges of the high court.  Another writer, Dr. Esam Sohel, also wrote his commentary on the same subject.  Hardly a month could pass by the chairman of Islamic Bank in Bangladesh rebutted our commentary by falsely asserting that fatwa, the religious edict by Mullahs, could work side-by-side with the secular laws.  After reading the news that Islamic Bank and Al-Baraka Bank laundered money for JMB goons, I now realize why the Islamic Bank�s chairman is sympathetic to the cause of JMB followers.  The chairman probably was sympathetic to the cherished goal of the JMB goons who wanted to transform Bangladesh into a Taliban nation.


The vernacular paper also mentioned that JMB chief Shaikh Abdur Rahman�s younger brother, Waliur Rahman, sent money regularly from Middle East.  What kind of profession was he doing in the M-E?  Is it possible that Waliur Rahman found some Middle Eastern men who were willing to donate money for a �worthy� cause?


The name of three or more Islamic NGOs was mentioned in the vernacular article that donated money to the accounts maintained by JMB bosses.  Among them was Islamic NGO Al-Haramain.  We learnt later that this NGO was propagating the Wahhabi Islam everywhere in Muslim dominated countries.


The onus of finding the financiers of Jihadi activities in Bangladesh is now on Khaleda Zia Administration.  Will the government do a thorough and decent job?  The presence of two powerful ministers who are sympathetic to JMB causes makes it very difficult for the four-party alliance government to undertake a noble mission to weed out jihadi activities from Bangladesh.  The Prime Minister could ill afford to annoy the two Jamaati ministers lest they pull their support from the alliance government.  In today�s politics in Bangladesh, the BNP has a slim chance to win the upcoming election without the support of Islamists.  Thus, for the sake of unity, Khaleda Zia won�t push the Central Bank to investigate the money matters centering the financing of terror activities in Bangladesh in recent years.


The civil society and newspapers should push for the truth to come out about financing the JMB activities.  Since no jihadi activities could continue without a continuous supply of money, it is imperative that the government publish the list of donors.  If the PM shows her unwillingness to probe into it by throwing a monkey wrench into the Central Bank�s investigation, then we would know something is grossly wrong in the way she manages Bangladesh.


Many folks think that militancy by Islamists in Bangladesh will go down the tube because the government had decimated the leaderships of JMB.  The leaderless rank and file of JMB, who are in great numbers, may regroup and tap the spigot of petro-dollars and British pound to jumpstart the nefarious jihadi activities all over again.  Therefore, it is prudent to figure out the money channel from which the Islamists used to nourish their organization and create a hell of a lot of trouble for the entire country.  The nation won�t forget the turbulent months of 2004 when Bangla Bhai�s men ran a separate judiciary through which they killed and tortured many rural people in western districts of Bangladesh.


Should we allow this to happen one more time?  It is about the time that we put the jinni of militant Wahhabi or Ahle-Hadis back into the bottle and throw it in the turbulent water of Bay of Bengal hoping it won�t come to the shore to reignite the flame of jihadism.


Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from Ithaca, New York.