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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

British Terror Suspect Sought in Bangladesh

The Mail reports that a man with British citizenship is on the run after a police raid in Bangladesh on Monday. He was running an orphanage and madrassa with money raised by a British-based charity.

The man, twice arrested for various bomb-making related offences but never charged, was also once arrested trying to board an aeroplane with a handgun in his luggage.

Here is the full story:

'A British chemistry graduate who was twice cleared of plotting terrorist attacks is being searched for by Bangladeshi security forces who claim that an orphange he founded was being used as a training camp and arms factory for Islamic militants.

Dr Faisal Mostafa ran a charity providing humanitarian aid to children and families in Bangladesh and Pakistan, even though he was twice cleared of involvement in alleged bomb-making factories and terror attacks in Britain.

Bangladeshi security forces allege that an orphanage run by Mostafa's Stockport-based charity Green Crescent was being used to train Jihadist extremists 'in line with Bin Laden'.

It has emerged that the father-of-three was also given a suspended sentence for trying to board a plane with a pistol in his suitcase last year.

The Charity Commission said tonight it was investigating the allegations, which it said it was taking very seriously.

On Monday Bangladeshi security forces raided the orphanage and attached Muslim school on the remote island of Bhola in South Bangladesh.

They discovered explosives to make 'several hundred' grenades, as well as ammunition, remote control devices and radical Islamic books.

A teacher and three caretakers have been arrested but Mostafa, who is in his mid-40s, is being searched for in Bangladesh.

Lt Col Munir Haque, an officer involved in the operation by the Rapid Action Battalion, said: 'We found small arms – about nine or 10 in total – plus equipment to make small arms, about 3,000 rounds of ammunition, two walkie-talkies, two remote control devices and four sets of army uniforms.

'We also found enough explosives and other equipment to make several hundred grenades. We found some ordinary Islamic books, but others that are in line with extremists like Bin Laden.'
He said that there were about 11 children between the ages of 7 and 8 at the compound at the time of the raid, but no other adults.

K M Mamunur Rashid, another officer involved in the raid, said: 'It is a big madrassa and we have so far gathered that this whole compound is being used for militant training,' he said.

He added that the charity had plans to build two more madrassas, viewed by the authorities as recruiting grounds for militant groups.

Mostafa, who has a PhD in chemistry from Manchester Polytechnic, was cleared of conspiracy to cause explosions with intent to endanger life at Birmingham Crown Court in 2002.

He was working as a teacher at a Birmingham mosque when MI5 agents swooped on a flat where they discovered bin liners containing chemicals, electronic devices and gloves with traces of HMTD, a high explosive.

Mostafa denied involvement with any terror organisation and told the jury that chemicals and explosive materials were intended to make fireworks.

His co-accused, Moinul Abedin, was jailed for 20 years after being found guilty of planning to cause explosions around the UK.

In 1996, Mostafa had been cleared at Manchester Crown Court of involvement in a terrorist bomb plot campaign with two other students after explosives were found at his home.

But he was found guilty of illegally possessing a firearm, sentenced to four years in prison and banned for life from possessing a firearm.

In July last year he was caught trying to board a plane to Bangladesh with a gas-powered pistol and bullet parts in his luggage.

He was arrested at Manchester Airport by security officials and claimed the gun was a gift for his brother, as part of a hunting and fishing trip with his wife and three children.

The charge carried a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment but Mostafa was sentenced to 56 days in prison, suspended for two years, and 100 hours' community service.
According to its website, the Green Crescent charity was set up by students in 1998, with the motto, 'Individuals with vision are capable of changing society in a positive way'.

Last year it had an income of £63,000 for 'long-term educational and health projects'.
The Charity Commission, which awarded Green Crescent charity status in 2004, last night came under fire from partner organisations in shock about Dr Mostafa's record.

Saeed Mahmood, of the Stockport-based charity Human Appeal International, said: 'Faisal comes in every few months about mainland projects in Bangladesh. We only work with organisations that are registered with the Charity Commission so we had no idea about these allegations.

'I'm taken aback. The Charity Commission should have told us if they knew and if they didn't know, why not?'

A spokesman from counter-terrorism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation added: 'If the Green Crescent charity has indeed been involved in militant activity, this will reflect very poorly on the Charity Commission, particularly given that Mostafa, the head of the charity, had previously been put on trial twice for terrorist offences.

'Ineffectiveness by the Charity Commission in identifying and tackling extremist charities leads to the British taxpayer directly subsiding militancy and extremism.'

Andrew Hind, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission said: 'We are working with relevant law enforcement and other agencies to investigate the allegation that terrorist activity is connected with the charity. The matter is of serious concern to us, and we are taking this action given the gravity of the matter, the public interest and the need to protect charity work and funds.

'We intend, as is normal procedure, to publish a statement of the results of the inquiry setting out our findings once the inquiry is completed.' '

Seeing as the Charity Commission should never have allowed a man with a criminal record to register a charity in the first place, can we hope for much from the investigation?

It seems that despite tough talk, once again the British Government is firmly bolting the stable door after the horse has long run into the night when it comes to Islamic terrorism.

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