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Deal between US lobbyists and Quasem to be probed: ACC

Staff Correspondent

The Anti-Corruption Commission will investigate the allegation of the appointment of a lobbyist by Jamaat-e-Islami’s leader Mir Quasem Ali in the United States at a fee of $25 million to influence the US administration against prosecution of him and his party for the 1971 war crimes.
The ACC’s chairman, Ghulam Rahman, told New Age that they took the decision on August 14 after receiving a letter and supporting documents from the law ministry.
The ACC will form a probe body of at least three members to delve into the matter, particularly the allegations of money laundering and other illegal activities, he said.
Mir Quasem Ali gave $25 million to lobbyist firm Cassidy and Associates for influencing US lawmakers to stop him as well as his party from being prosecuted by the War Crimes Tribunal.
The ACC’s chairman said that they would ask for his wealth statement and would take the necessary legal steps on the basis of the findings of the probe body.
An official of the ACC said that the law ministry, in its letter to the ACC, informed it that an agreement was signed between Cassidy and Associates and Mir Quasem Ali on 10 May, 2010 in Washington DC for six month of lobbying.
Under this agreement, $25 million was paid as upfront payment from Citi Bank NA through wire transfer to Cassidy and Associates’ account number 30717248, said the official.
He said that such a huge payment was made for use of the influence of Cassidy and Associates, as well as former Congressman Marty Russo, in putting pressure on the Bangladesh government for preventing Mir Quasem Ali and other Jamaat leaders from being prosecuted for their involvement in war crimes.
Mir Quasem Ali is the top policymaker of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd and runs a number of Islamist NGOs and business ventures in the country, and is also one of the owners of Diganta Media Corporation that publishes a vernacular daily and runs a private television channel.
Among the most serious allegations against Quasem is that he was among those who had made the list of the intellectuals to be killed at the fag end of the War of Independence. Most of the intellectuals in the list were killed on 14 December, 1971, only two days before Bangladesh clinched victory in its War of Independence against Pakistan.
Quasem and his Al-Badr thugs occupied a house belonging to a Hindu family, Mahamaya Bhaban, in Chittagong, which they renamed Dalim Hotel and turned into a detention and torture camp.
After independence Quasem fled to Saudi Arabia and returned only after the assassination of the country’s founding president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and most of his family members on 15 August, 1975. Quasem was also the founding president of Islami Chhatra Shibir in the 1980s, when the Islami Chhatra Sangha was renamed after its revival.

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