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WAR ON TERROR
Anti-U.S. diatribe sparks investigation
Voice of America to check out comments attributed to reporter
Posted: August 15, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
A Voice of America network correspondent in Bangladesh has been accused by a freedom activist of proclaiming that the United States is pursuing a conspiracy against Islam.
However, the VOA correspondent, identified as Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, denies holding that belief and blames the comments on another "Mr. Chowdhury," VOA spokesman Joe O'Connell told WorldNetDaily. O'Connell said officials at the tax-funded organization were investigating what did happen.
The report from activist Dr. Richard Benkin appeared recently in the Asian Tribune and accused Matiur Rahman Chowdhury of being on a popular Dhaka news program, "Today's Newspaper," and releasing an anti-American rant.
Benkin said Chowdhury's comments came shortly after about two dozen people were arrested in the United Kingdom on accusations they were part of a terrorist plot to carry explosives onto nearly a dozen U.S.-bound jets and blow them up.
Scotland Yard's announcement about the arrests confirmed the suspects had Southeast Asian backgrounds, and they allegedly were planning the mega-terror attack by using liquid explosives to destroy the various jets that would have been en route to New York, Washington and Los Angeles.
Investigators and police say the attack possibly could have caused "thousands" of fatalities and may have been the "big one" that people have been expecting Since Sept. 11, 2001, Benkin wrote.
Benkin, who also is active in religious issues in Bangladesh, said Matiur Rahman Chowdhury reported the arrests were "a game of the British government" and he accused "western governments" – specifically citing the U.S. and the United Kingdom – of deliberately fabricating the terror plot.
Chowdhury reportedly said that was because the "conspirators" wanted to deflect world attention from what he called "Hezbollah victories" in the Mideast, Benkin reported.
The report said "Chowdhury" said the claims of a terrorist plot simply weren't true because of the tight security at airports worldwide and such allegations were just part of the U.S. "conspiracy against Islam."
Benkin also noted that Matiur Rahman Chowdhury's various stories were reviewed on the VOA website and they were found generally to be straightforward with "no apparent sign of editorial bias."
And Connell said he'd talked with VOA managers for whom Matiur Rahman Chowdhury has worked at least 11 years, and was told such comments would be out of character.
"He's been a reliable reporter, has gone to the Iraq war for us," O'Connell said. "He believes what happened was that a Bangladesh website produced by a man called Salah Uddin Shoaib Chowdhury (carried the comments)."
"He (Salah Uddin Shoaib Chowdhury) has a piece on his website that in turn was quoted by the Asian Tribune," O'Connell said. "Our guy categorically denies saying anything like that."
Salah Uddin Shoaib Chowdhury is a Muslim who previously as run afoul of Islamic fundamentalists. As reported by WND earlier, he was accused of spying for Israel in 2003 after his newspaper warned of the rise of Islamist fundamentalists and encouraged his nation to recognize Israel.
He is credited with publishing one of few papers in the nation without a bias against Israel.
He also contacted the VOA's Chowdhury when the concerns arose, and asked if anything in the report he published about the anti-American diatribe was untrue, and the VOA's Chowdhury "was silent and did not deny the truth of the comments," Benkin told WND.
In an email Matiur Rahman Chowdhury sent to the Tribune, he said he was simply conducting a live television show and another person on the show was making some comments.
Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, who edits the Manavzamin newspaper in Bangladesh, said his paper's policy always has been against Islamic fundamentalism.
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