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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 12:53 GMT
Police hold Bangladesh professor
By Waliur Rahman
BBC News, Dhaka

Police in Bangladesh have arrested a university teacher for allegedly leading a militant Islamic movement blamed for recent bomb attacks.

Muhammad Asadullah al-Ghalib, professor of Arabic at Rajshahi University in the country's north-west, was arrested on Wednesday with three of his associates.

Muslim shrines, political rallies, cultural functions and aid agencies have been attacked in recent months.

Mr al-Ghalib's last week denied any involvement with Islamic militancy.

Police say his name arose after the arrest of 20 suspected militants.

Police said the detainees, who allegedly belong to two militant outfits - Jagrata Muslim Janata and Jama'atul Mujahideen - named Mr al-Ghalib as their spiritual leader.

Home Minister Lutfozzaman Babor told the BBC both groups had been banned with immediate effect.

Donor conference

Investigators said the professor was the leader of an Islamic group called Ahle Hadith Andolon aimed at establishing and popularising the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

Mr Babor said the arrest of Mr al-Ghalib was a reflection of the government's determination to crackdown on militant elements.

The minister said the government was disturbed and embarrassed by a series of bomb attacks.

Last week, eight workers of two international development agencies were hurt in blasts.

Two home-made bombs were thrown into the office of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (Brac) in Bogra district, about 180km (110 miles) north of Dhaka.

Three similar bombs were hurled at the offices of the Grameen Bank in the district of Sirajganj, about 100km north-west of the capital.

More than 100 people have been killed in bomb and grenade attacks since 1999 and in most cases Islamic militant groups have been blamed.

The high-profile arrest coincided with a two-day conference of Bangladesh's aid donors beginning on Wednesday in Washington.

The meeting, being held for the first time without the presence of any representatives of the Bangladesh government, is scheduled to discuss the issues of lawlessness and the police's failure to arrest those responsible for bomb blasts.

But Mr Babor said: "There has been no pressure from our international partners. We made the arrest because we have information that these people are involved in the recent bomb attacks."

Mr Babor said police were also trying to arrest Siddiqul Islam, better known as Bangla Bhai, an alleged member of Jagrata Muslim Janata.


SEE ALSO:
Bombs hit Bangladesh NGO offices
17 Feb 05 |  South Asia
Clashes erupt across Bangladesh
22 Aug 04 |  South Asia
Press shock over Bangladesh attacks
22 Aug 04 |  South Asia
Bangladesh's unsolved bombings
21 Aug 04 |  South Asia
In pictures: Bangladesh blasts
21 Aug 04 |  In Pictures
Country profile: Bangladesh
14 Aug 04 |  Country profiles


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