The Strange Case Of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

 

Congressman Steve Chabot with Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

 

On January 16, 2007 Congressman Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, sponsored a sense of the House resolution demanding that the Bangladesh government drop all charges against Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a journalist facing sedition charges. According to the resolution:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Bangladesh should immediately drop all pending charges against Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

Whereas Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a Bangladeshi journalist who, because of his beliefs in an interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims and criticism of Islamic extremism, is on trial for sedition, an offense punishable by death;

Whereas on November 29, 2003, Mr. Choudhury was arrested at Zia International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on his way to board a flight bound for Tel Aviv; Mr. Choudhury’s passport was seized, along with considerable sums of money and several personal items; on that same day police raided Mr. Choudhury’s home and newspaper offices, seizing files, computers, and other valuables;

Whereas moderate voices in the Muslim world must be supported and protected to advance the security of the United States and its allies: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that–

(1) the Government of Bangladesh should immediately drop all pending charges against Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
(2) the Government of Bangladesh should immediately return all of Mr. Choudhury’s confiscated possessions; an
(3) the Government of Bangladesh should cease harassment and intimidation of Mr. Choudhury, take steps to protect Mr. Choudhury, and hold accountable those responsible for attacks against Mr. Choudhury.

On February 15, 2007 the resolution passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs by voice vote.

On February 24, 2007, Dr. Richard Benkin reported in the Asia Tribune that Congressman Steve Chabot, a co-sponsor of the House resolution, met with Mr. Choudhury at the American Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Mr. Choudhury, who according to the resolution has been charged "because of his beliefs in an interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims and criticism of Islamic extremism", has many friends and well-wishers around the world and in the US Congress. PEN USA has made him an honorary member; the Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned his detention; Reporters without Borders has condemned an alleged bomb attack near his office; the New York Times has editorialized on his behalf; Bangladeshi bloggers I respect have championed his cause; and a diary has appeared in Daily Kos supporting his cause.

Mr. Choudhury is also a darling of the conservative side of the aisle. Michelle Malkin has taken up his cause; Atlas Shrugged has been on the case; Melanie Phillips has bemoaned his abandonment; and so has Debbie Schlussel. The Wall Street Journal has demanded his freedom, as have the New York Sun and the Washington Times.

Mr. Choudhury is a rare man – he has united the right and the left as a champion of freedom of the press and a voice of moderation against radical Islam.

As those who read my posts know, I have spoken out against extremism in Islam and against unjust detentions everywhere. Last year I spoke out against the unjust detention of Mirza Tahir Hussain. I have also written posts about Islamist extremism in Bangladesh. It would be natural for the reader to assume that I would, in this instance, take up the cause of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. However, I will not – and here is why.

I warn the reader that the story is long and complicated.

But first, here is how the New York Times frames the story:

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Muslim editor and commentator in Bangladesh, has a rare virtue — he champions dialogue and decency in a culture hemmed in by extremism and corruption. When his weekly newspaper, Blitz, published articles favorable to Israel, it was blacklisted by various companies. Some people demanded that the paper be banned. Mr. Choudhury was thrown out of a private television company.

But all of this pales compared with what happened last month. As he boarded a flight in Dhaka, the capital, on his way to a writers’ conference in Tel Aviv, Mr. Choudhury was arrested by security personnel, accused of being a spy and thrown in prison. The charges are a baseless sham. The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York and the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontières have vigorously condemned his arrest. Governments, including Washington, need to demand his release.

The Tel Aviv meeting Mr. Choudhury was planning to attend was called ”Bridges Through Culture” and the lecture he hoped to deliver concerned the role of the media in establishing peace. Mr. Choudhury, who was going to open a Bangladeshi branch of a group called the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace, would have been the first journalist from Bangladesh to speak publicly in Israel.

Mr. Choudhury’s mistreatment is not occurring in a vacuum. Muslim extremism is growing in Bangladesh. Moreover, violence against journalists who stand up to the ruling party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, has been increasing, especially in the south and especially for those exposing links between politicians and organized crime. On Dec. 4, a correspondent for a southern regional daily was beaten and stabbed by members of the party’s youth wing after publication of an article critical of a key local politician.

On Thursday, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Sans Frontières sent letters to Khaleda Zia, the prime minister of Bangladesh, expressing grave concern over these developments. Their alarm is quite justified. Bangladesh may now be among the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. That makes Mr. Choudhury’s courageous stand for Muslim-Jewish dialogue all the more admirable — and vital to defend. [Emphasis added by me.]

The New York Times makes a convincing plea. However, the New York Times is suffering from a lack of reporting and a basic understanding of the facts. They are repeating a tale that has been spun by dint of repetition.

Mr. Choudhury was arrested on November 29, 2003 at Dhaka airport. Here is the original news report:

A man was arrested at Zia International Airport (ZIA) yesterday morning on his way to Tel Aviv for his alleged Mosad connection.

A leader of Bangladesh chapter of ‘Iflaq’, a Haifa-based organisation, Salauddin Shoib Chowdhury was carrying compact disks (CD) and papers containing write-ups on some sensitive issues including ‘minority repression and the al Qaeda network in Bangladesh’, police said.

Shoib was managing director of the planned Inquilab Television until he was sacked last year.

Members of different law enforcement agencies and ZIA immigration officials apprehended him at the immigration counter minutes before he was to leave for Bangkok by the Biman flight, BG-084, at 10:30am.

"He introduced himself as the editor of the ‘Blitz’, an entertainment magazine published from Dhaka, and said he was going to Bangkok," a top police officer said yesterday on condition of anonymity.

"Searching his luggage, we found a number of CD-formatted write-ups and papers that clearly proved his contact with Tel Aviv," he said. "He was going to take part in a conference in Tel Aviv scheduled to begin on December 1," the police officer added.

It was however learnt that Shoib’s movements were being monitored for quite sometime on suspicion of his connection with the Israeli secret service ‘Mosad’.

"He was going to Bangkok first and was scheduled to fly for Israel, a country Bangladeshi citizens are barred from travelling to," he said.

Mr. Choudhury has quite an interesting past. The article goes on to say:

A correspondent of Russian news agency Itar-Tass, Shoib was sacked from his job but soon joined now defunct ATV owned by Aziz Mohammad Bhai. During his job there, he was arrested on charge of smuggling information out of the country and was awarded a three-month term in the case.

Shoib later joined Inquilab Television as managing director. But he was sacked from his job on allegation of fund embezzlement last year.

He joined the Bengali daily Inquilab as special correspondent, but is no longer there for reasons unknown.

Though Bangladeshis are forbidden to go to Israel, Shoib visited the Israeli capital last month, sources said.

All reports in the Western media refer to Mr. Choudhury as having worked for a private television station and on a Bengali newspaper prior to becoming editor of an obscure Bangladeshi newspaper known as the Weekly Blitz. Those reports however leave out the most salient parts. Mr. Choudhury was the managing director of Inqilab Television, a private television venture run by the leading Islamist party in Bangladesh, the Jamaat-e-Islami. Mr. Choudhury was also a correspondent for the Daily Inqilab, the mouth-piece of Jamaat-e-Islami and published by (until his death last year) well-known war criminal and leading Islamist Maulana Abdul Mannan. Yes, boys and girls, Mr. Choudhury was an Islamist.

 The story gets more interesting. At his bail hearing Mr. Choudhury explained his financial entanglements, and some new information dripped out:

Shoib told the court that he was arrested by police at the behest of the editor of The Inquilab, AMM Bahauddin.

"I am a 30 percent share-holder of the ITV. Earlier, Bahauddin sold out my share to Salman F Rahman at Tk 6 crore without my consent," said Shoib who also claimed himself as the incumbent managing director of the ITV.

He said when he demanded his share back the Daily Inquilab editor influenced police to arrest him in order to muzzle him. He also told the court that Bahauddin threatened him with death, as he demanded his share of the money. He said a few days back he filed a general diary with Uttara Police Station in this connection.

Shoib was arrested in July 17, 1999 on charge of sending e-mail to the then prime minister Sheikh Hasina, her family members and some influential ministers threatening their lives. Charges were pressed against him on May 3 in 2000 and he was jailed for six months.

Police said Shoib used to introduce himself as an ultra Islamist. He was engaged in defrauding people. He often took money from foreign visa seekers. When he was in the daily The New Nation in 1999, he faxed a write-up to the Daily Dinkal where he mentioned that editors of different newspapers took money from the Indian High Commission.

A correspondent of Russian news agency Itar-Tass, Shoib was sacked from his job but soon joined now defunct ATV owned by Aziz Mohammad Bhai. During his stint there, he was arrested on charge of passing information out of the country. [emphasis added by me.]

While he was a good little Islamist he threatened to kill the then prime minister of Bangladesh, the leader of Bangladesh’s largest secular party. However, he had a falling out with his Islamist buddies over a very large sum of money (approximately $1 million). After his falling out, his life became even more interesting.

Mr. Choudhury, through the Weekly Blitz (founded after his falling out with his Islamist friends), went on an offensive against his former partners. He became a darling of some pro-Israel friends. Here is Mr. Choudhury’s article on extremism in Bangladesh (a topic he knew well) written in October 2003:

The Daily Inqilab acts as a mouthpiece of the fundamentalists in Bangladesh. the, It is an extremist sort of provocative newspaper spreading the theme of jihad amongst the local population Inqilab was initially funded by Iraq’s deposed autocrat Saddam Hussain and presently it receives regular cash support from a large number of hidden organization in Bangladesh and abroad. One of the owners of this daily is based in Dubai where from global activities of this organization continues. It is believed that Inqilab enjoys very close contact with Osama Bin Laden, and it has extremely good relations with a large number of small and medium ranking organizations and parties in Bangladesh. Some of these organizations are on the regular pay role of the daily.

Pressure to conform to extremist opinion is intense. Since my newspaper, the Weekly Blitz, published several articles that were favorable to Israel, we have been subject to various threats from local fanatics as well from the Palestinian ambassador in Dhaka. Our newspaper was black listed by some of the local companies financed by the Islami Bank, another organization that patronizes and nourishes extremist groups here. There were a number of applications to the Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka to cancel the registration of our newspaper. Hackers entered our Web site and tried to disrupt it, but were foiled by our technicians.

I received numerous threats from the local extremists and from the editor of an extremist daily, and in one case I had to lodge a written complaint with the local police station. Under the instructions and inspiration of Islami Bank, Ibn Sina Trust and some other religious extremist groups, I was thrown out of a private television company where fanatics suddenly acquired the major portion of the stock. Until now I have not been paid the price for my 20 percent share in that company. [Emphasis added by me.]

Please note the Mr. Choudhury fails to mention that he in fact was affiliated with the "extremist daily" and that the "private television station" was also affiliated with the "extremist daily" and was its namesake. It is this article, and a few others, that Mr. Choudhury and his supporters now cite as the reason for his arrest and detention.

About the same time, a curiously seductive op-ed appeared in the leading English language newspaper in Bangladesh. It was written by Dr. Richard Benkin (if you scroll up, you will note that I cited Dr. Benkin as the reporter for the Asia Tribune). The op-ed was entitled "Dear Bangladesh: An American Jew’s Perception". It praised Bangladesh for its secular democracy and urged it to become the broker for Middle East peace. To do so, the op-ed suggested that Bangladesh should first open diplomatic relations with Israel:

 also believe that Bangladesh is uniquely positioned to help bring peace to a region that has resisted peace for so long: the Middle East. What? Am I daft? Bangladesh is a small nation with its own problems to solve, you might say. We might remind ourselves, however, that when the United States negotiated a peace between Russia and Japan in 1903, it was still a relatively minor player on the world stage. More recently, modest Norway attempted to broker a peace between Arabs and Israelis. Other historical events are also instructive. From the end of World War II until the 1970s, America refused to recognise the People’s Republic of China, demonising it, and not accepting its legitimacy. The president who finally changed that was one of the least forgiving of those old cold warriors, Richard Nixon. A liberal Democrat who tried to do it would have faced tremendous opposition. Similarly, the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country was signed not by doves from each side, but by two men who fought vehemently against each other’s peoples: Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. So, what country is better qualified to broker a truce than a non-Arab Moslem nation and a democracy at that: Bangladesh.

Why should the world assume that only a superpower like the United States, or a European country like Norway, should offer itself as a broker for peace? Bangladesh is really a more logical vehicle to bring together Israelis and Arabs. On the one hand, you share a Muslim heritage with Arabs. On the other, you share Israel’s religious diversity. (Do you know, Israel has approximately the same percentage of Jews as Bangladesh has Muslims?) You share the Arab world’s past subservience to western powers; but your democratic government is much closer to Israeli democracy than Arab autocracy. There is only one thing missing to complete the equation.

It would be very difficult for Bangladesh to play such a role in this conflict while it does not formally recognise the sovereignty of one of the parties. It would be difficult to broach such an issue when there is no Bangladeshi diplomatic corps in Israel to contact its Israeli counterparts. (Before trying to broker Middle East peace, the US allowed Palestinian Arabs to open a diplomatic office in Washington, and recognised the Palestinian Authority.) Imagine for a moment what would happen if Bangladesh established diplomatic relations with Israel, then announced its intentions to hold a peace conference for the parties in the Middle East? Although it would not be the first Muslim nation to recognise Israel, your action still would no doubt shock many around the world. For you would be denying the pernicious belief, which holds that a sovereign Jewish state can exist in the Middle East only at the expense of Muslims. Consign that lie to the ashbin of history where it belongs! Declare to the world that Jews and Muslims can live side by side as equals, and the world can know peace. Your bold action would demonstrate to the world a level of courage and maturity that too few nations possess. And it would place Bangladesh on the centre stage of world events.

Peace is possible in the Middle East, but it will take a special kind of wisdom and courage. Most nations are too mired in self-interest, stilted thinking, and ideologies to take that leap of faith. Let the nation and people of Bangladesh be the one to lead us out of those traps and into a new era of peace.

It was a curious request and yet seductive in its appeal.

It will not surprise you to learn that Dr. Richard Benkin and Mr. Choudhury are connected. The connections are so interesting that I am forced to draw a diagram to illustrate.

The many connections of Salah Udding Shoaib Choudhury

[Click on the above image for an enlarged view.]

Mr. Choudhury is the editor of the Weekly Blitz. Mr. Benkin is its USA correspondent. A certain Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, along with Ada Aharoni (of IFLAC), Asher Eder, and Yehushua Friedman, are listed as special contributors. Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi and Asher Eder are the founders of Islam-Israel Fellowship, while Yehushua Friedman is on its Board of Directors. Mr. Choudhury and Mr. Benkin are Advisory Board Members of Islam-Israel Fellowship.

The Islam-Israel Fellowship describes itself as follows:

The Islam-Israel Fellowship of the Root & Branch Association promotes cooperation between Jews and Muslims both within the State of Israel and abroad, and between the State of Israel and Muslim nations, based upon a correct Jewish understanding of the Bible and Jewish tradition, and a correct Muslim understanding of the Qur’an and Islamic Tradition.

Promoting cooperation between Jews and Muslims seems to be a worthy goal. However, all is not as it seems. A reading of the commentaries from the Islam-Israel Fellowship will make it clear that the "cooperation" they seek is similar to the kind of peace Daniel Pipes advocates:

Like many other Middle East scholars, Daniel Pipes sees a way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But unlike most of his peers, Pipes sees no room for negotiation, no hope for compromise and no use for diplomacy. "What war had achieved for Israel," Pipes explained at a recent Zionist conference in Washington DC, "diplomacy has undone."

His solution is simple: The Israeli military must force what Pipes describes as a "change of heart" by the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza — a sapping of the Palestinian will to fight which can lead to a complete surrender. "How is a change of heart achieved? It is achieved by an Israeli victory and a Palestinian defeat," Pipes continued. "The Palestinians need to be defeated even more than Israel needs to defeat them."

Palazzi, the co-founder of Islam-Israel Fellowship – an Italian who claims some very dubious Islamic scholarship – lays out some of his thoughts on "peace" in the Middle East:

I live in Rome and I am a clergyman (Imam) of the Italian Islamic Community. I consider myself a good friend of Israel and am trying my best to help Muslims free themselves from anti-Zionism and to develop a positive attitude toward Jews in general and towards Israelis in particular.

I believe that Israeli Arabs live in a privileged position: they are the only Arabs in the Middle East who live in a democratic State. The comparison between the positive way that Israel treats them and the terrible way that refugees from "Palestine" were treated by their so-called Arab "brothers" is incredible.

I believe that "Palestinian identity" is something completely artificial: it was forged as a propagandistic tool against Israel. The strange fact is that, at least here in Europe, I have never heard an Arab from the Land of Israel ("Palestine" ) say: "I am Palestinian."

The real "Palestinian State" is Jordan, and from a linguistic, ethnic, religious and cultural point of view there is nothing that can be identified as "typically Palestinian" and "non-Jordanian."

I doubt that there is in today’s world a more corrupt and criminal organization than the "Palestinian Authority." Arafat [Abdul Rauf el-Codbi el-Husseini] and his mob travel around the world asking for money to "help the Palestinian people." They hide this money in Swiss and Kuwaiti banks, while Arabs who live in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank" ) and Gaza go hungry.

By signing the so-called Oslo Agreement, Israel made the worst of mistakes: it legitimized a gang of killers in the eyes of worldwide public opinion. I believe that the Israeli government should have dealt with Arafat [Abdul Rauf el-Codbi el-Husseini] in the same way that it dealt with Adolf Eichmann.

A Palestinian State will be a disaster for both Israelis and Arabs. The Israelis will lose their security and the Arabs will lose their freedom of speech under a criminal government.

Since I love Israel, I ask God to protect it, and to help its leaders to understand that the only way to survive is to declare the Oslo Agreement null and void.

It won’t come as a surprise that Palazzi is a darling of the neo-cons. In addition to Palazzi, the other members of the fellowship also chime in to light the path to "peace":

Besides "Am Yisrael" (Jewish People), is there really another nation around today that is anything other than an established myth? The Palestinian nation is certainly a Johnny come lately, but so were the Americans in the 18th century. I’m sure that the British wrote gobs about the fake American identity. The Palestinian nation is perfectly legitimate as such; the problem is that their territorial claims conflict with our prior claim, and more importantly, with the decree of the Almighty.

Therefore, Palestinian national identity does not entitle them to a land. They "are" entitled to whatever culture they choose to develop. And if they should, "rachmana latzlan", succeed in establishing a state on our land, they wouldn’t be the first to do so. The Kingdom of Jerusalem was cherished by it’s Christian inhabitants just as much as the Palestinians cherish "Palestine".

There is no stronger nor no nobler claim to a piece of land than the connection between "Am Yisrael" (Jewish People) and "Eretz Yisrael" (Land of Israel). I truly believe that in the End of Days, the whole world, Palestinians included, will accept this connection, and it won’t really matter who qualifies as a nation and who not.

Let us focus on this essential issue and not be side-tracked by debates about nomenclature.

In sum, there are many nations and nationalities, and I see no reason not to enumerate the Palestinians amongst them.

However, there is only one nation with a Divine imperative to settle the Land of Israel: The Jewish Nation.

With peacemongers like these, who needs the Peace Process.

The rest of the diagram above fills in rather nicely. Dr. Richard Benkin is a member, and author of a couple of position papers, of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), with Daniel Pipes on its board. Daniel Pipes of course has also taken an interest in Mr. Choudhury. The soup of Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, David Horowitz’s Frontpage and Jihad Watch are well documented. Of course, some of the experts from the Middle East Forum happen to also be contributors to Mr. Choudhury’s Weekly Blitz. It is all tied nicely in a bow by Sheikh Palazzi, who happens to be the go-to guy for Frontpage magazine when it comes to Islam-Israel fellowship.

Now we come back to Dr. Richard Benkin. Dr. Benkin has been a tireless crusader for Mr. Choudhury’s cause. He maintains the FreeChoudhury website and has worked with Congressman Mark Kirk to shape the sense of the House resolution on Mr. Choudhury’s behalf.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is currently out on bail and editing the Weekly Blitz. His sedition trial is underway in Bangladesh. Dr. Benkin "reports" that there has been a "setback":

Crusading Muslim journalist, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, suffered a major setback in the government case against him for alleged “sedition, treason, and blasphemy.” The current government of Bangladesh had recently given explicit assurances to several US and other officials that the admittedly false charges would be dropped and done so “within the framework of Bangladeshi laws.”

We have learned that the procedure would have three successive court dates at which government witnesses failed to show, forcing the charges to be dropped. That happened on January 22 and was supposed to happen again on February 28.

Instead, two government witnesses did show and the radical-affiliated judge signed an order forcing the trial to continue and accusing Choudhury of being a “threat to the security of Bangladesh.”

It appears that the trial is set to go forward, in spite of pressure from the United States and Dr. Benkin and friends.

There is something very odd about Mr. Choudhury and his friends. His association with Sheikh Palazzi and the Islam-Israel Fellowship certainly suggests that he is not, in the words of the New York Times, the "champion" of "dialogue and decency". Mr. Choudhury recently used some decidedly neo-conservative language in showing concern for his friend, Sheikh Palazzi, and his "noble message":

Certainly there are thousands of hidden axes of the Islamist radicals, waiting to execute voices like Imam Palazzi at the first chance, because, if such noble message will get spread, possibly in a very near future, blood-monger Islamofascists will not find any more innocent pray to fall into their traps of so-called holy war.

The nexus between Dr. Benkin, Sheikh Palazzi, the neo-conservatives and Mr. Choudhury raises a lot of questions. The story of Mr. Choudhury spun in the West leaves out much of the unsavory aspects of Mr. Choudhury’s resume. The curious op-ed by Dr. Benkin in a Bangladeshi newspaper before Mr. Choudhury’s arrest smacks of a coordinated propaganda campaign by the Islam-Israel Fellowship and their affiliates. The involvement of the extremists from the Fellowship in Mr. Choudhury’s tabloid, the Weekly Blitz, is also rather curious. Mr. Choudhury, Islamist turned Zionist, may be an opportunist or a patsy, or both.

I am unconvinced that the Bangladeshi authorities have a hollow case against Mr. Choudhury. As they say, there is far too much there there. I, for one, would like to see a trial where the charges are aired and Mr. Choudhury has a chance to defend himself. However, given American pressure and the typically obtuse and heavy-handed tactics of the Bangladeshi government, this strange case may eventually be swept under the rug.

This entry was posted in Bangladesh, Israel-Palestine, Media, Middle East Conflict. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to The Strange Case Of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

  1. Robbie says:

    Mash, I knew something was up the minute you said Pamela Oshry and Michelle Malkin were involved. It sounds like they were against terrorism before they were for it. :d

  2. Mash says:

    Over at DKos I am taking a beating for being against “freedom of the press” and being against “friendlier relations with Israel”.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/3/4/94151/82242

    I have to say I am not surprised.

  3. Robbie says:

    Yikes! That’s why I stay away from message boards as much as I can.

    The way I see it, stay the course. I’d rather be right than pandered to.

  4. Mash says:

    To be fair, its just one guy. I’m humoring him on a Sunday afternoon. I have to hand it to him – he is persistant. :d

  5. Robbie says:

    Oh yes, I started blogging again. Click on my name for the new location. >:)

  6. Rivkeleh says:

    Dude, my fingers hurt just from scrolling. Wow! Nice!

  7. Amer says:

    That sure is one helluva recap! I thought your diagram was a little excessive at first, but it went quite well with the writeup. The problem with the whole affair is that the BD government has done so much wrong with its various special powers that its lost enough credibility to make it motives suspicious. For what the intelligence guys claim he’s done sedition sounds like an inappropriate charge…espionage perhaps?

  8. Mash says:

    Robbie, I left you a note on your blog. Everytime you want to get out, they pull you back in! =d>

    Rivkeleh, my fingers hurt from all the typing :-ss

    Amer, as I started writing, I figured the only way to make sense of it would be to use a diagram. And, you are absolutely right about the BD government’s heavy handed approach – its hard to claim that you can be fair when your police cant be trusted to follow your own rules.

    I also agree that it sounds more like espionage than sedition, although I guess the former could be a subset of the latter.

  9. Rezwan says:

    Thanks Mash for the insightful article. This is really a strange case as Mr. Chowdhury, himself being an Islamist earlier, turned against them. No doubt he was very unpopular to the previous BNP-Jamaat Government. He was even beaten by BNP goons which Mr. Chowdhury labeled as because he has spoken against fundamentalism.

    Mr. Benkin was once employed by Bangladesh Government to uphold its image after the militant controversies. It seems he is rather doing the opposite, should there be a personal interest/revenge as the motive?

    I am always against sterotyping and deductions from isolated case. Mr. Chowdhury’s case is very complicated. He was victim of political repression but the truth behind may not what the propaganda for him describes.

    He is a free man since 2005 and he enjoys no lesser right than an ordinary Bangladeshi. And with his mouthpiece the Weekly Blitz he is very powerful. I hope the false cases against him are withdrawn.

  10. Group Captain Mandrake says:

    It certainly seems like this guy has entered one of the fastest growing industries in the US: manufacturing opinions that support the folks who sign his check. Hey, if it works for the Bush administration’s science appointees…
    Although, in all fairness Mash, and I understand you don’t have access to the sensitive arrest records, however: the fact that this guy is obviously a shill doesn’t mean he was arrested appropriately, based on ACTUAL espionage rather than a bunch of inflammatory pro-Israel propaganda in his possession. So, while I’m not a big fan of Choudhary based on your informative article, I’m reserving judgement on his guilt or innocence. Regardless of how ignorant, asinine or “convenient” his opinions are, they don’t really bear on this case except RE motive. I’m not going to jump on the “save Choudhary” bandwagon, and I think the knee-jerk reaction of the neocons might come back to bite them on this one…but I’m not ready to assume his guilt either. A public trial in Bangladesh is the right time and place for that.

    BTW Mash–there is something wrong with your ID/input system. Even when it is quite clear what 5 numbers/letters I’m supposed to type, and I do so, it ALWAYS makes me start over…if it were once in a while, I’d blame my poor reading comprehension…but it’s EVERY TIME. And I was never able to use the login system, it never accepted my info. :d

  11. Mash says:

    Mandrake, other people have also complained about the spam filter. I’m going to pull it again until I find a better one. Unfortunately that means lots of work cleaning up automated spam comments :(

    Rezwan and Mandrake, as for Mr. Choudhury, I am not convinced of his guilt as far as the sedition charge is concerned. However, I am not convinced of his innocence either – so a trial is the right place to sort it out. Its clear that he is shilling, but shilling is not a crime. I did however want to point out that he was shilling and who he was shilling for. To suggest that he is being persecuted for “inter-faith dialogue” is a joke. He is being painted as a “moderate Muslim” in a larger propaganda war.

    He should get due process and the government needs to prove its case in court. However, there is a concerted effort going on to threaten the Bangladesh govt with cutting of foreign aid unless they drop the charges against him. I think the Bangladesh government’s obligation here is a fair and free trial. It has no obligation to drop charges unless those charges cannot be sustained. I view with suspicion any attempt to force the Bangladesh government to withdraw charges based on political pressure.

  12. Pingback: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying ยป A Call To Retract My Post On Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury And My Response

  13. Pingback: Who is Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury?

  14. Group Captain Mandrake says:

    Thanks again for bringing this up Mash…it’s important to know all the facts on this, particularly when some in our current “diplomacy-challenged” administration seem intent on raising such a stink about it. I’m tired of this “we’re all for elections as long as you don’t elect Chavez or Hamas” crap, not to mention the “we’re all for rule of law, as long as you don’t touch our robber-baron multinationals raping your economy, or prosecute our soldiers if they (are ordered to?) commit war crimes in your country.” Democracy is democracy, and law is law…whether the neo-convicts agree with the results or not.

    Hell, we need to go further: the old tired saying of “my country, right or wrong” is EXACTLY the kind of imperialist social thinking that landed Hitler in the Reichstag. My saying is, “love your country enough to change it when it’s wrong.” :)>-

  15. shafiur says:

    Benkin’s “Dear Bangladesh” article was certainly “curious” as you say and certainly managed to “seduce” the last BD government into making him an image consultant. I blogged about it HERE

    SUSC is an odd opportunist. However putting him on trial seems a tad bizarre. And then employing his mentor Benkin as PR consultant is even more bizarre.

  16. Mash says:

    shafiur, Benkin’s links to the American neo-con movement should explain some of the bizarreness here. Read the articles on the Islam-Isreal fellowship site and jihadwatch.com for some insight into the propaganda campaign. While you are at it, take a look at the “Arabs for Israel” site and others and you will notice that all of them seem to have the same people, are funded by the same people, and share the same extreme views. Mr. Choudhury is part of this much larger web.

    I am still curious to see the trial of Mr. Choudhury continue. Whether Mr. Choudhury’s associations and actions will actually amount to sedition according to Bangladeshi law remains to be proven – and its the burden of the govt. of Bangladesh to prove that in court. I have no idea if he is guilty – we hope to find out in court. But I did want to debunk the spin that accompanies his portrayal in the western press. Its important to know when you are being taken for a ride and by whom.

    The case will likely be dropped because of American pressure though.

  17. Esperanza says:

    Mash, your most important links – to the evidence on which your case rests – are down. Can you fix?

  18. Mash says:

    Esperanza, thanks for letting me know. It looks like the Islam-Israel Fellowship has redone their website since I wrote this post. The are currently here. I am looking to see if they have removed the commentary altogether or have reorganized them. I’ll update the links after I look into it.

    Some of the Daily Star archive links are also intermittently up and down. The Daily Star reported last week that they were having server trouble so I expect those links to not be down permanently.

  19. Sajjad Jahir says:

    Friday, September 28, 2007
    Which side Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury does really belong to?
    Which side Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury does really belong to?
    Source: Commentary at e-Discussion Group

    This is a million dollar question. For some years, the mysterious Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury from Bangladesh has been fooling many secularist Westerners. That includes friends of Israel as well. Salah Uddin acted as if he was the epitome of anti-communalism and the only pro-Israel humanist Bangladesh could ever produce. He cried victim as if he got the wrath of Bangladeshi Islamists. When his crying game was unfolding in Bangladesh’s political stage, quite ironically he could not gather any friend from the Bangladeshi secularist camp. For obvious reasons, nobody from that lobby ever trusted him. Suffice it to say, even most member from the religious minority or the liberal intelligentsia did not care for him much. It was too difficult to give him the benefit of doubt considering the fact that it was Salah Uddin himself who had the audacity to call Bangladeshi human rights activist Shahrirar Kabir a “Mossad agent” on the record. His comment was published in the Islamic fundamentalist Bengali daily INQILAB, which was part and parcel of his one time employer. Many close observers of this chameleon think he was the best con man Bangladesh could ever produce.

    But Salah Uddin Shoaib’s real agenda can not be suppressed anymore. Lately, the Bangladesh cartoon fiasco and the subsequent monkey dancing of the Bangladeshi Islamists drew condemnation of the secularists and anti-Islamists worldwide. In this situation, Salah Uddin’s pet project, his weekly BLITZ sided with the Islamists. Instead of helping the cause of free speech and religious tolerance in Muslim countries, he simply sided with the cause of bigotry and blind fanaticism perpetuated by global jihadists. The author Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury basically recommended the arrest of the editor of the Bengali daily PROTHOM ALO, the publisher of the cartoon. What a audacity! The catchy title of the piece is self explanatory- Blasphemous Daily Star group. Blitz writes on September 19th:

    “Here a questions appears very prominently. Why the government is reluctant in arresting the editor and publisher of Prothom Alo? Is this because they are considered to be very close to the present government? In this case, normally people might raise question, as to where is the rule of law”.
    Wait a bit… Now look into the article by Mahmudur Rahman, a notable Islamist who published similar view in his writing published in the Jamaat sympathizer Bengali daily NAYA DIGANTA. Mahmudur Rahman not only blamed the PROTHOM ALO editor, he wrote highly of jihadi politics in Bangladesh and Afghanistan. After reading the two articles, someone can easily derive to the conclusion that Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is indeed a stooge of the global Islamists.

    Posted by Deshi Blogger at 10:10 AM

  20. Mash says:

    Sajjad, Mr. Choudhury’s writings are certainly interesting. The Weekly Blitz takes some curious editorial positions. :d

  21. M H says:

    Sounds to me this fellow is an OPPORUTNIST. Haha, you have to give him credit. His main goal is probably to retire wealthy and he knows that after the Oil Arabs, the Zionists have deep financial pockets.

    As long as his stories are factual, I wish him luck.

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  23. Meir Stone says:

    Are you saying Shoaib deserve to die ?

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  28. Brenda West says:

    Read how Choudhury swindled large amounts of money from two of his most devoted Jewish female supporters. He is a shameless scam artist and should be behind bars. http://thesilentmajority.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/must-he-lie-meet-the-muslim-zionist-%e2%80%9chero%e2%80%9d-who-rips-off-his-female-jewish-supporters/

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