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 Bhola men grilled, UK charity probed...................

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Registration date : 2008-06-10

PostSubject: Bhola men grilled, UK charity probed...................   Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:40 pm

Four officials of the Green Crescent Madrasa and Orphanage, where a huge quantity of weapons were seized two days ago, were ordered to face 10 days of interrogation on Thursday, while a UK charity was being probed for alleged links to the arms haul.

A Bhola court gave police the permission to quiz madrasa 'trainer' Russel (30) caretaker Hamid (30) Abul Kalam (32) and Jasim (35) for 10 days.

Rapid Action Battalion arrested the four in a raid on Tuesday that unearthed the cache of firearms, ammunition and bomb-making equipment at the heavily secured madrasa compound at Ram Keshobpur in Sachra union, Borhanuddin, some 20 km from Bhola city.

Massive haul

The recovery included four handguns, four shotguns, 3000 bomb 'splinters', 900 bullets, eight magazines, two binoculars, two remote-control devices, six life jackets, 20 facemasks, two walkie-talkies and as many mobile phones. A number of books on Jihad were also recovered, RAB said.

There were 11 children, aged between 5 and 6 years, present during the raid, said officials.

UK-based charity

Major Mamun Ur Rashid Mamun who led the operations said Green Crescent, which began constructing the madrasa-cum-orphanage on the 12 acre site four years ago, was found to be a UK-based charity.

A man known as 'Faisal', living in London but now in Bangladesh, funds the institutions and oversees the operations, said Mamun.

The UK's regulatory Charity Commission has announced it will investigate the alleged links between Green Crescent and the arms haul.

A spokesperson for the commission told the British media they were probing the "very serious" allegations and the inquiry would focus on "determining the extent of the links" between the charity and the arms haul.

There has been no response from the charity so far, the media reports said.

The commission's website said that, in 2008, Green Crescent had a turnover approaching 70,000 (US$102,733).

'Preparation for major operation'

Major Mamun told US the suspected militants, including the four arrestees, were preparing for a major operation.

The four had initially been sent to Barisal RAB camp after arrest for interrogation, he added.

Fortified compound

Another sweep for weapons was made Wednesday at the compound that was fortified by a 'drawbridge' over a large pond leading to the madrasa entrance.

RAB combed the pond but found no further weapons. Two acid bottles were found in trainer Russel's room.

The investigators also searched the entire compound with metal detectors for underground caches.

RAB-8 deputy assistant director Md Ali Wednesday filed a case with Borhanuddin police accusing the four arrestees under the arms and explosives acts.

'NGOs' under scrutiny

The government just last week said it would examine NGO financing and activities and take strict measures against those found to be channelling funds to militants in Bangladesh.

Finance minister AMA Muhith said on Mar 18 that "the large number of NGOs" approved by the then social welfare minister and Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed, would be audited meticulously.

He said funding of militants came through many sources, both individuals and organisations.

National security concerns

The Bhola seizure came as the country still reeled from last month's BDR mutiny that killed 75 people, including 57 army officers deputed to the border force.

The country was also celebrating Independence Day on Thursday amid security concerns, while the government cancelled the traditional parade in the wake of speculations that the mutiny may have had 'militant links' and cautions by some government ministers that civilian installations may be targeted.
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