Bangladesh police question New York bomber’s wife

A policeman stands guard in Times Square not far from the site of a pipe bomb explosion on December 11, 2017 in New York City. (AFP)
Updated 12 December 2017
0

Bangladesh police question New York bomber’s wife

DHAKA: Bangladeshi counter terrorism officers on Tuesday questioned the wife of New York subway bomber Akayed Ullah and said he had visited the family in Dhaka in September.
Police said Ullah, an immigrant from Bangladesh who set off a crude bomb strapped to his body in a crowded New York subway passage on Monday, had visited Dhaka after the couple’s baby son was born.
“We are trying to know how he was radicalized and whether he had any associate,” senior counter terrorism officer Saiful Islam told AFP.
He said police had raided the family home in Dhaka and questioned Ullah’s 25-year-old wife, Jannatul Ferdous Piya and her father, but that neither was under any suspicion.
Ullah reportedly told US police investigators he wanted to avenge US airstrikes on the Daesh group and was also inspired by Christmas terror plots in Europe.
Bangladesh police are investigating whether he was radicalized in his Muslim-majority homeland, where foreigners have been among those targeted in deadly assaults claimed by the IS group and Al Qaeda.
Police in Bangladesh say he has never appeared on a watchlist there.
Mofazzal Hossain, caretaker of the family apartment in Hazaribagh in the old part of Dhaka, described him as “pious and a gentleman.”
“He used to pray in the local mosque five times a day. He would urge us to pray and do good work,” Hossain told AFP
“He visited Bangladesh in September after his son was born,” he said, adding Ullah married in January 2016, but did not take his wife to the US.
US authorities say Ullah migrated seven years ago as the member of a family already living there under what is known as “chain immigration.”
His family was originally from Sandwip, an island off Bangladesh’s south coast, but police believe his father moved to Dhaka before Ullah was born.
“We are questioning one of his relatives for more information,” local police chief Noor-e-Alam Mina told AFP.
The impoverished riverine nation of 160 million has been waging a war against homegrown extremism in the wake of numerous attacks by radical groups in recent years.
In July last year militants stormed a Dhaka cafe and massacred 22 hostages, including 18 foreigners, in an assault claimed by the IS.
Security forces have shot dead more than 70 alleged militants in a fierce crackdown since the cafe carnage.
Bangladesh last month arrested an alleged militant from Ansarullah Bangla Team, a homegrown extremist group with links to Al Qaeda, over the 2015 murder of a prominent Bangladesh-origin American blogger in Dhaka.
The secular government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has vowed to root out extremism but says international radical groups do not operate inside Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh embassy in Washington DC condemned the New York bomb attack and restated Bangladesh’s “zero tolerance” approach to extremism.
“A terrorist is a terrorist irrespective of his or her ethnicity or religion, and must be brought to justice,” the embassy said in a statement.


Philippine judge rejects Duterte push for critic's arrest

Updated 35 min 7 sec ago
0

Philippine judge rejects Duterte push for critic's arrest

  • The decision from a Manila court denied a government petition to take Senator Antonio Trillanes into custody
  • Trillanes has attacked the president's deadly narcotics crackdown, but also accused Duterte of corruption

MANILA: A Philippine judge rejected on Monday an effort by President Rodrigo Duterte to arrest one of his fiercest critics, a decision hailed by opponents as a check on the leader and a victory for the rule of law.
The decision from a Manila court denied a government petition to take Senator Antonio Trillanes into custody on charges for which the lawmaker had already been granted amnesty.
Trillanes has attacked the president's deadly narcotics crackdown, but also accused Duterte of corruption and his son of involvement in drug dealing.
"We wish to thank Judge Andres Soriano who has singlehandedly upheld justice and the rule of law in the country despite extreme pressure coming from the Duterte regime," a beaming Trillanes told reporters.
The order for Trillanes' arrest stems from the president voiding in September an amnesty granted eight years ago to the senator, an ex-navy officer, for his role in two coup attempts in the mid-2000s.
Duterte alleged the lawmaker did not complete the requirements of filing an official application and admitting guilt, but Monday's ruling threw out those arguments.
However, this decision is unlikely to be the final word on this case. The Philippines' top court is weighing the constitutional questions posed by Duterte's amnesty revocation and the government all but pledged to appeal.
"This is not the end. Nobody has to claim total victory here," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters. "This may be subject to review by the higher courts."
Monday's news came as Trillanes was on bail over another military uprising case that was revived by Duterte revoking the lawmaker's amnesty.
His arrest last month in that case made Trillanes the second senator critical of Duterte's drug war to be detained. Leila de Lima has been behind bars since February 2017 on charges she says were concocted to silence her.
Human Rights Watch called Monday's decision a temporary victory for rule of law in the Philippines.
"The Duterte administration's campaign is designed to silence Trillanes," HRW researcher Carlos Conde told AFP.
"We expect it (the government) to continue, even ramp up, this political harassment and intimidation," he added.
Trillanes had faced rebellion and coup d'etat charges for being among military officers who rose up against then president Gloria Arroyo over alleged corruption and mismanagement.
He led scores of junior officers in taking over part of a main district of Manila in 2003 and seized a posh Manila hotel in 2007 along with several armed followers as they demanded Arroyo's resignation.