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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2396

Bangladeshi Islamists Bomb Independent Newspaper

Dhaka, 06 July, (Asiantribune.com): A Bangladesh weekly newspaper office was reported to be bombed. It was alleged that an Islamist organization was behind the bombing incident.

According to a report filed by Dr. Richard Benkin, on 05 July, at 11:35pm, local time, two explosions rocked the office of Weekly Blitz, the independent newspaper of maverick editor, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

Report went on to add that Choudhury was not on the premises at the time of the bomb explosion, and report reveals that no one was injured in the explosions.

Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), police and Detective Branch immediately rushed to the spot and a case has been lodged with Paltan police station in this connection.

Dhaka police and members of the anti-terrorist Rapid Action Battalion recovered material from two bombs that exploded outside the facility and two unexploded bombs from inside Blitz offices.

The news report filed by Dr. Benkin further adds that on June 29, 2006, Mufti Noor Hussain Noorani, an alleged self-proclaimed bigot and head of the radical Khatmey Nabuat Movement (KNM), telephoned Weekly Blitz threatening to blow it up and murder Shoaib within 36 hours.

“Choudhury angered Noorani by publishing an editorial opposing KNM’s attack on the minority Muslim sect, Ahamdiyya, the subject of Islamist persecution, particularly in South Asia. Choudhury reported the threats almost immediately, but the police took no action, later claim to have ‘misplaced’ the report.”

Dhaka Police Commissioner Mizanur Rahman telephoned Shoaib as police gathered at t the bomb site, and asked him why he thinks Blitz would be targeted by the radicals. Choudhury responded almost incredulously "because we are an anti-radical newspaper."

In a second phone call, Rahman told Shoaib that the police would immediately begin providing protection at both Weekly Blitz offices and at his home. Damage from the bombs thus far appears minor, although the damage to the building likely would have been total had the unexploded bombs been detonated.

In the meantime, Bangladesh Home Minister Lutfuzzamen Babar, who heads the Rapid Action Battalion, told Shoaib that Noorani would be arrested within the next 24 hours.

According to a report, Choudhury and Weekly Blitz have been associated with a number of anti-Islamist positions, and Choudhury was arrested in 2003 after his attempted to visit Israel.

Though a Muslim, Choudhury had previously editorialized the Islamist threat in Bangladesh. He however urged his country to recognize Israel, and advocated interfaith dialogue based on mutual respect and understanding.

It was alleged that radicals, several inside the police, stalked Choudhury for months before pouncing. Choudhury was imprisoned and tortured for 17 months

Subsequently, an American Jew, Dr. Richard Benkin, waged a battle for his release. The battle was often a one-person movement until Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL) joined the fight.

Three weeks after Kirk and Benkin met with the Bangladesh ambassador, Choudhury was freed. He still, however, faces charges of sedition—charges which the government admits have no merit—which can carry a sentence of death.

- Asian Tribune -

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