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July 01, 2013

Before the Khmer Rouge There was the Al-Badr Brigade

chowdury atrocities.jpg

For many Americans, Islamic extremism, in the form of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, emerged from the shadows on 9-11-2001. But the recent request by the government of Bangladesh to extradite promiment British Muslim leader Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin to stand trial for atrocities committed in 1971, provides disturbing historical perspective on the phenomenon of Islamic extremism. Mueen-Uddin is a prominent Muslim leader in England. He has served as chairman of the Multi-Faith Group Healthcare Chaplaincy in Britain and is a trustee of Britain's leading Islamic charity, Muslim Aid. He was a leading figure in the protests by the British Muslim community against Salman Rushdie.

He now stands accused as a mass murderer.

According to the indictment, Mueen-Uddin was a leader of a Pakistani Islamist group called the Al-Badr Brigade that hunted down prominent secularist intellectuals in what was then East Pakistan.

The Daily Mail Online quotes Sanaul Huq, the Inspector-General of Bangladesh's National Police Force, who describes how

Mr Mueen-Uddin and his associates allegedly subjected their victims to horrendous torture before killing them and dumping their bodies in sports grounds which earned the nickname 'killing fields'.

'They abducted an eye doctor, and then gouged his eyes out before killing him and dumping his body.

'They abducted a cardiologist and cut out his heart before killing him and dumping his body.

'They kidnapped a woman journalist, and cut her breasts off before killing her. Her decomposing body was later found with her breasts cut off.

In nine months from March through December 1971, between 300,000 and 3 million people were murdered by the Pakistani army and their Islamist accomplices. An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 women were raped. The country's minority Hindu population was targeted for extermination as were ethnic minorities. Most of the victims, however, were Sunni Muslims who simply did not want to be ruled by West Pakistan and the Islamists.

Interestingly, during the time he allegedly directed Islamist killing squads, Mr. Mueen-Uddin's day-time job was as a journalist for a newspaper, the Daily Purbadesh.

It has taken over 40 years for the charges to be brought against Mueen-Uddin and other Islamist leaders of the genocide in East Pakistan. The situation is most remniscent of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

As is the case in most genocides, hunting down and murdering intellectuals, especially professors, was a high priority. This casts the efforts of some far left academics to find common cause with today's Islamists in a disturbing light.

As Islamist governments take charge throughout the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring, it might be behoove some journalists whose time horizon extends further back than a few years to look more closely at the war between East and West Pakistan. What happened then serves as a warning of what could lie in store for those who seek to modernize and liberalize Muslim society.

Posted by SS at July 1, 2013 09:58 AM


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