The following was reported in Weekly Blitz of Dhaka in October 2006.


Questionable Information Sources at US Embassy in Bangladesh

By Dr. Richard L. Benkin


On October 5, 2006, anti-jihadist Muslim journalist, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, was attacked at his paper by around three dozen hooligans, including two officers of the ruling Bangladesh National Party (BNP); Helal Khan and Babul Ahmed.  After the attack, Shoaib went to the police but was told to “go home.”  The police did not log the incident.  Shoaib’s brother, Sohail Choudhury he took him to a nearby hospital for minor treatment.  They then reported the incident to another police station and were told to return to the paper.  He returned to find the attackers still occupying the paper, and police chatting in a friendly manner with his admitted attackers.  The police left the premises with the attackers still there, including the aforementioned BNP officials.  No charges were ever filed against the attackers.


Shoaib reported the matter to me, and I conveyed the information to Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) and others.  Two days later, however, I received a call from the Congressman’s aide, Jeffrey Phillips.  He indicated that “something’s fishy,” as the US Embassy in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka replied to their protest that the matter had nothing to do with Shoaib’s upcoming sedition trial and radical Islam, but was tied to a business deal.  Others reported the same response from the US Embassy.  It should be noted that this was not the first time the US Embassy in

Dhaka expressed ambivalence or even skepticism about Shoaib’s veracity.  In fact, during Shoaib’s 17 month incarceration and torture for allegedly being a “spy for Israel,” the US Embassy did nothing, despite being informed frequently about the case.


The embassy’s response required that I investigate the matter and provide the Congressman and others with evidence to support Shoaib’s position.  I did, and during the course of the investigation, it was revealed that the embassy based its response entirely on the report of one if the local nationals it employs, Firoze Ahmed.  Ahmed’s “investigation” consisted of a single telephone call to Shoaib.  It turns out that Ahmed claims that it was during that conversation that Shoaib said the attack was about the business deal—something Shoaib vehemently denies and has denied consistently.  To repeat Congressional Aide Phillips’ words, “something’s fishy.”


And indeed further investigation turned up no evidence that the attack was related to a financial dispute; and, moreover, Shoaib made witnesses available to testify otherwise.  It was also “fishy” because there is no way the version that Ahmed alleged Shoaib gave could in any way help Shoaib.  There was no motive for him to say that.  Coupled with the evidence of Shoaib’s version, including confirmation that the attackers called Shoaib an “agent of the Jews” during the attack, it was clear that Ahmed’s version was not true.  Several days later, the attackers called Shoaib “an Israeli agent” at a press conference, further supporting Shoaib’s version.


The only mystery was why the US Embassy did not engage in even the most elementary investigation to verify Ahmed’s allegations before dutifully reporting them to the Congressman and others.


At least a partial answer came about a week later.  Information came to both Shoaib and me that Firoze Ahmed, who has been employed by the US Embassy for over a decade and has been honored by the US State Department, has ties to the radical Jihadist party, Jamaat i-Islami, and in fact occupies a position of some rank, “Roqan.”  The embassy engaged in no process to vet Ahmed, his motivations, his ties, or his trustworthiness.


While additional sources are being consulted for confirmation, the incident indicates that our embassies in countries that are only nominally friendly to the United States are basing their decisions on information that is questionable at best, antithetical to US security at worst.