Bangladesh arrests charity head behind school

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Police detained the head of a British-based charity today that funded an Islamic school in southern Bangladesh where authorities seized weapons and explosives, an official said.



Faisal Mustafa — who runs the London-based Green Crescent charity — was held for questioning along with an aide, said A.K. Azad, a spokesman for the Rapid Action Battalion, a special anti-crime force.

Mustafa's family earlier told local media he had been missing since 26 March, two days after police raided the Green Crescent Madrassah and Orphanage, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the capital of Dhaka.

Police found a large cache of guns, bullets and bomb-making materials as well as books on jihad, or holy war, at the school and arrested four employees, including a religious teacher, said Mamunur Rashid, an officer who led last month's raid.

The school, which also houses orphans, was opened a few months ago in a remote area of the coastal district with funds from the Green Crescent charity, Rashid said.

Police suspect the school has links to banned militant groups, which want to establish strict Islamic rule in this Muslim-majority nation governed by secular laws.

An email and a telephone message left with the Green Crescent's British office were not immediately returned.

Britain's charity watchdog, the Charity Commission, said the group's bank account had temporarily been frozen pending the outcome of the commission's investigation into its activities.

Green Crescent describes itself as being devoted to helping "youth from poor ethnic backgrounds ... build confidence and responsibility by sports and social events."

The group, based near Manchester in northwest England, raised more than £60,000 last year, according to figures published on the Charity Commission's website.

Bangladesh has seen a spate of bomb attacks by Islamic radicals at political rallies, courts and cultural venues in recent years.

Last month, Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith said authorities were examining the activities and sources of funding of some Islamic charities that were approved by the previous alliance government, which included two Islamic parties.

Comments