Tue, Apr 07, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Bangladesh arrests head of UK charity over weapons link


Bangladesh security forces said yesterday they had arrested the head of a British charity linked to a huge cache of weapons and bomb-making equipment uncovered at a religious school last month.

Faisal Mustafa, 45, a UK citizen who owns the London-based Green Crescent charity, was picked up from Gazipur, 40km north of Dhaka, deputy chief of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Colonel Rezaur Rahman Khan said.

“Faisal and the local coordinator of the charity were arrested early Monday morning. They are suspected of using the Green Crescent-owned madrassah for militant training and making bombs,” he said.

RAB officers raided the Islamic seminary, or madrassah, on the remote southern island of Bhola late last month, uncovering firearms, ammunition and explosive devices.

Bangladesh police say the madrassah was used as mini bomb factory.

Bangladeshi authorities have long viewed madrassahs with suspicion, fearing they could be potential recruiting grounds for Islamic militant groups.

The Charity Commission, which regulates charities in the UK, announced it would investigate the extent of the alleged links between Green Crescent and the arms haul.

Jihadi literature was also found during the raid, including books that encouraged Muslims to take up arms.

The Bangladesh authorities are currently investigating dozens of Muslim charities in the impoverished country over allegations they are funding extremists.

The probe was launched after a mutiny at a military base in Dhaka in late February in which Islamic extremists were suspected to have played a role.

More than 70 people were killed, including at least 56 senior army officers, in the revolt at the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters.

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