The following was published in Weekly Blitz of Dhaka in August 2006.


Voice of America Correspondent Calls Terror Arrests Anti-Muslim

By Dr. Richard L. Benkin


August 12, 2006 (Dhaka, Bangladesh)    A correspondent for Voice of America (VOA) in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka went on an anti-American rant and has placed the generally positive reputation enjoyed by that US tax payer funded agency in jeopardy.  On Friday night August 11, VOA correspondent Matiur Rahman Chowdhury appeared on the popular Dhaka news program, “Today’s Newspaper.”  Earlier that day, Scotland Yard announced the arrest of 24 “home grown terrorists,” with South Asian backgrounds.  They accused them of planning a mega terror attack on several airplanes flying from London to several major US cities.  Using liquid explosives, the terrorists were to have detonated blown up the planes of major US cities including New York, Washington, and Los Angeles.  The dramatic attack would have caused possibly “thousands” of fatalities and might have been “the big one” people have been expecting since September 11, 2001, according to senior American and British security officials.


When asked for his comment on the arrests, Chowdhury called them a “game of the British government.”  He went on to accuse “western governments,” and in particular the United States and the United Kingdom, of deliberately fabricating the terror plot to deflect world attention from what he called “Hezbollah victories.”  Chowdhury, who is also editor of the Bangla paper, Manavzamin, said that the revelations of a terrorist plot could not be true since airport security has become too tight.  An employee of an American government agency, VOA , Chowdhury said, rather that the claims about the plot are part of a “conspiracy against Islam” by the United States.


Chowdhury’s stories on the VOA web site show were reviewed and found to be brief, straightforward and factual with no apparent sign of editorial bias.  However, the VOA’s Journalistic Code states clearly “VOA employees recognize that their conduct both on and off the job can reflect on the work of the Voice of America community. They adhere to the highest standards of journalistic professionalism and integrity. They work to foster teamwork, goodwill, and civil discourse in the workplace and with their colleagues everywhere in the world, all to enhance the credibility and effectiveness of the Voice of America.”


Chowdhury’s comments not only present a popular anti-American and pro-Islamist point of view in a country that is trying to prevent an Islamist takeover, but it also violates several tenets of the VOA’s code of conduct for journalists.  Those tenets mandate correspondents to “avoid at all times the use of unattributed pejorative terms or labels [and to] “meticulously avoid fabricating, distorting, or dramatizing an event” among others.


After a 2001 accusation of “pro-Islamist” and “anti-American” bias at the VOA in Nigeria, there was a thorough investigation and numerous changes made to rectify the problem.  Thus far, there has been no comment thus far from anyone affiliated with VOA, the US Embassy in Dhaka, or the US government.


Currently, our bi-lingual sources are conducting an investigation of his Manavzamin for any indications of anti-American or pro-Islamist bias.