Unmasking A False Friend of the West: Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
by Brenda West (July 2011)
Can we admit that we have been scammed? Many of us in the Western world believed the Bangladeshi journalist and publisher, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, when he called himself a "Muslim Zionist." Choudhury presented himself as devoted to Jewish people and Western principles of democracy. He won international acclaim and generous financial support as one of the few Muslims who affirmed our values by playing on the hopes and fears of the West in the post 9/11 world. However, this in-depth investigation reveals that he has been exploiting his supporters and is creating national security risks for both Israel and the West.
The Legend of Shoaib Choudhury
An earnest fan club has gathered around Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. His image was of a noble, highly moral person who was willing to face imprisonment and death in support of minorities, especially Jews, in his Muslim rule country. In November, 2003 Choudhury defied a ban Bangladesh had placed on its citizens preventing them from traveling to Israel, and was arrested. Choudhury was on his way to a media conference in Tel Aviv organized by Dr. Ada Aharoni, the head of a group called the International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace (IFLAC). Very quickly, word got out to an American friend, Richard Benkin, with whom Choudhury had been communicating by email and telephone for almost a year. Through Benkin’s intercession, the Internet was soon awash with Free Choudhury petitions and articles denouncing his imprisonment and demanding his release.
An international movement was born, and Choudhury was eventually released from prison on bail. In the United States, Choudhury won endorsements from Congressional representatives Mark Steven Kirk, Nita Lowey, Peter King, Joseph Crowley, and Anthony Weiner. They pushed through Congressional Resolution 64 in 2007 to demand that the Bangladeshi government drop all charges against Choudhury and no longer insist that he show up for court appearances; the European Parliament took a similar action in 2006, as did the Australian Senate in 2007. A Canadian Member of Parliament and international lawyer, Erwin Cotler, provided pro bono representation. Choudhury received a cash award from the Prince of Monaco at a ceremony attended by Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel in 2007. Many Israeli newspapers and institutions sang his praises with weekly articles. The Wall Street Journal carried admiring articles about him, as did many other newspapers, and bloggers flooded the Internet with their awe stricken appreciation of what looked like Choudhury’s dedication to Western humanistic principles. He was a celebrated lecturer at Yale University, Rutgers, and the American Jewish Council, among others.
Choudhury’s fame brought him donations from well-funded institutions such as the Middle East Forum and the Hudson Institute, as well as from many individuals. With a gentle, charming manner and a gift for empathy, Choudhury inspired respect, love and even adoration among many. For those concerned with antisemitism, there was a rush to be part of the “in” group that knew about the Shoaib saga, almost like the frenzy that developed around Bernie Madoff when some Jews, trusting Madoff because he was one of them, competed for status in gaining access to the Great Man. As if held in a kind of hypnotic spell, the collective media first of the Jewish community and then of the larger Western world failed to heed many disquieting rumblings about Choudhury from his Bangladeshi compatriots, those who knew him best.
The Legerdemain of Choudhury- His Hidden Islamist And Criminal Past
The spell was broken for me when I realized he had defrauded two of his most devoted female, Zionist supporters of large sums of money.
After viewing the documents involved, the New York Police Department charged Choudhury with Grand Larceny via Fraud. Not only did he bounce three checks, break a contract, and send countless email promises to repay that were never kept, but Choudhury founded the business relationships on an elaborate deception. He tricked the women by inventing elaborate stories about the businessmen he was dealing with – a Mr. Yun, David Jones, Sagir Ahmed Bhai – to convince the defrauded women that their money was involved in legitimate transactions. But the problem is, the associates never existed. For over a year, Choudhury maintained these ruses. When the women wrote that they suspected fraud, Choudhury threatened to sue them for slandering his good name. Furthering the deception, and demanding their continued trust, he created elaborate email exchanges between the women and the fabricated associates. The fake partners wrote to the women that they thought the world of Choudhury on both a personal and a professional level.
Choudhury mailed one of his victims an obviously counterfeit check, signed by the fictitious David Jones, by way of indicating that he would pay her when the check was cashed.
A close look at the check shows that the city and the bank do not exist, and the numbers do not make sense. The money was never paid to the women who trusted him. It is one thing to meet with business reversals and need more time to repay a loan made in good faith. But if the entire premise of the loan is dishonestly conceived, then the transaction is a fraud. Choudhury appealed to his Zionist friends’ sympathy by claiming he could not get a regular bank loan because he was persecuted due to his support of Israel. This claim turned out to be dubious.
Choudhury operates a shady website called Jethro Conglomerate, for which a scam alert has been posted by an organization that regulates the business dealings of the commodities Choudhury sells. (In case you are curious or are impressed with Choudhury’s interest in things Jewish, Jethro is the Hebrew word for Choudhury’s preferred moniker, Shoaib.) Choudhury states on the Jethro Conglomerates website that he represents a company called Noca. Noca itself does not seem legitimate. It is not licensed. It provides no information about who owns or runs the company. The representatives they do list could be of interest to law enforcement. The Noca site says it is located in Canada but it gives an unpublished Nevada phone number. There is an odor of mobster activity connected with this enterprise, as well as Choudhury’s involvement in it. As we shall see in Choudhury’s published resume, Choudhury worked closely with the indicted mobster, Aziz Mohammed Bhai, who fled Bangladesh in 2009 to avoid imprisonment for various charges, including murder.
Amazingly, for all the nearly eight years that Choudhury has been in the international eye since the well-publicized arrest in 2003, no one has bothered to check on his biographical data. Most of this information is clearly posted in his resume on the website owned by Richard Benkin, and can also be seen on Wikipedia.org. Choudhury was born in 1965 and has said elsewhere that he attended Saint Joseph’s College in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He claims to have gone on to graduate from a Master’s program in journalism at the London School of Economics in 1989, and then worked for the Soviet news agency Itar-Tass from 1989 – 1995, quickly rising to the top by becoming its chief correspondent in 1993.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury’s Official Resume
1989-1993: Correspondent, Itar-Tass News Agency(Russia)
1993-1995: Chief Correspondent, Itar-Tass News Agency(Russia)
1995: Special Correspondent, The New Nation (English language, Dhaka)
1995: Translator (Bangla): The Rise and Fall of Pahlavi Dynasty by
(Iranian) General Hossain Fardoust; Iranian Embassy, Dhaka
1995-1999: Founder and Managing Director, A-21 TV , Bangladesh’s first private television channel,
1999: Bangladesh government (Awami League) forcibly closed A-21 TV after coverage of opposition news.
1999: Charged with sedition, imprisoned, and tortured. (October 10, 1999)
2001: Released from prison and all charges dropped.(January 10, 2001)
2001-2002: Special Correspondent, Daily Inqilab, Dhaka, Bangladesh (Bangla)
2002: Partial Owner, Managing Director, Inqilab Television
2002: Removed from office, shares seized after refusing to attend Inqilab sponsored and organized pro-Saddam Hussain, anti-US rally in Dhaka.
2002: Founded Weekly Blitz (May 2002)
2003-2005: Charged with sedition, imprisoned, and tortured after writing articles warning Bangladeshis of the rise of Islamists, urging Bangladesh to recognize Israel, and advocating religious equality and interfaith dialogue; and after attempting to travel to Israel. (November 29 2003 – April 30, 2005)
The first part of this history is totally made up and the rest is spun to hide things he would rather you not know about. First of all, Choudhury did not go to college. A Google search shows that Saint Joseph’s was only a secondary school until it added on a college wing in 1999, long after Choudhury would have been there. Choudhury claims to have earned a Master’s degree in journalism at the London School of Economics in 1989. However, correspondence with them revealed that they did not have any kind of media program in 1989, and they never heard of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury at all. The administrators at the London School of Economics were very diligent, even searching by the complete birth date known, January 12, 1965, but nothing came up for him. Similarly, an email and telephone exchange with Itar-Tass, and a very thorough search on their part, revealed that not only had they never heard of Choudhury but they never had a branch in Bangladesh either.
So what was the young Mr. Choudhury doing from 1983 or so, when he would have presumably graduated from high school, until 1995? That leaves about twelve years unaccounted for. What does appear on his resume as the next work record, after an alleged brief stint at the New Nation newspaper, is a deep involvement in Islamist activities. Choudhury’s own record states that in 1995 he worked under the tutelage of the Iranian Embassy. Iran had already become a regime of theocratic mullahs that called the United States the Great Satan and Israel the Little Satan. Choudhury’s job was translating The Rise and Fall of Pahlavi Dynasty, written by former general Hossain Fardoust, an Iranian contemporary of Shah Pahlavi, and Ali Akbar Dareini, a reporter for the Associated Press. As you will remember, Shah Pahlavi was the last monarch who ruled in Iran before the mullahs took over.
There is no doubt about the veracity of the next leg of Choudhury’s Islamist sojourn because it was well noted by the outspoken secular anti-Islamists of the day, outraged as they were by the actions Choudhury took against them. He worked for A-21TV and a newspaper called the Daily Inquilab. What Choudhury does not tell us is that these outfits were run by the most malevolent men in Bangladesh at the time, which would be known to anyone who either lived in Bangladesh or who had studied its politics. One was an open Islamist while the other, a Mafia don, worked with people who supported Islamists. While Choudhury does admit that he was formerly an Islamist, he does not tell his foreign supporters what that entailed.
A brief note about Bangladesh’s history is in order. In 1971, Bangladesh was born out of an especially bloody war of liberation from Pakistan, which had declared itself an Islamic Republic. The emerging nation, formerly known as East Pakistan, had its own language and a practice of Islam that was syncretized to some degree with the practices of its Hindu and Christian minorities. The Bangladeshi revolutionaries wanted to be free of the fundamentalist interpretation of Islam practiced by Pakistan. They chose instead a society that would still be Muslim yet would also be secular, allowing for a more equitable treatment of their large non-Muslim population, unlike Pakistan’s practices. Opposing the revolutionaries was an old guard in Bangladesh known as nationalists that rejected separation from Pakistan, mainly because it would water down the practice of Islam. Their Mullahs (Islamist religious leaders) taught that it is a sacred duty for Muslims to kill kafirs (non-Muslims). The nationalists cooperated with the Pakistani army and a state of civil war ensued. Over three million intellectuals, university professors, professionals, journalists and others who wanted a secular state were massacred by the old guard fundamentalists. Countless women were raped and captured as sex slaves, and many homes and business were either appropriated or destroyed. Hindus suffered the brunt of the persecutions. As many as ten million Hindus fled to India, and their continuing exodus is depopulating Bangladesh of its indigenous population even now. United States officials in Bangladesh at the time referred to these slaughters as genocide. Mass graves are being discovered even to this day. The Bangladeshis who violated their own people in the name of Islamic fundamentalism were never brought to trial. The issue of whether or not to prosecute and punish the men who orchestrated the atrocities is still unsettled, constantly roiling Bangladesh’s unstable governing processes.
The men Choudhury worked with are considered war criminals who orchestrated these massacres of their fellow countrymen. Choudhury does not tell you this in his resume, but his partner and financial backer for his A-21 TV project was Aziz Mohammed Bhai, known as one of the supporters of the mass murders of Bangladeshi intellectuals who fought for the independence of their country from Islamist Pakistan. Bangladesh authorities believe Bhai has close ties to the Aga Khan Foundation, a charity front group for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard whose mission is to spread the Islamic revolution of Iran, and they also believe that Khan conspired with an Al Qaeda tied terrorist to assassinate people he considered to be enemies of the jihad. Bhai’s connections go deep and wide, tying him in with Russian mobsters, North Korea, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bhai is also widely known in Bangladesh as a Mafia style mobster who has been charged with international smuggling, drug dealing, and embezzling large amounts of money from banks. Here we see how Choudhury’s contact with Islamists in the Iranian Embassy may have lined him up for further associations with a person tied to the Iranian Revolution, as well as to organized crime. When Bhai was charged in 2009 with the 1998 murder of Bangladesh’s leading actor, whom he saw as an apostate for being an outspoken critic of the war criminals, he fled the country and is now living in Malaysia. According to his own resume, Choudhury was working closely with Bhai at the time of the murder.
In 1999 Choudhury tells us in his resume that he went to prison for sixteen months for “sedition.” But he does not say what was involved. What happened was that he had been planning to broadcast programs violently opposed to the philosophy of the secular Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League. Choudhury would have entertained guest speakers such as the gruesome war criminal Moulana Delwar Hossain Saidi. (Moulana means prayer leader.) Saidi informed Pakistani troops about the whereabouts of resistance fighters so that he could confiscate their property and sell it very brazenly in open markets for a profit. Long after the War of Liberation was over, Saidi was in the habit of giving hate talks in which he would say things like, “Why should we feel sad when our Hindu brothers chose to leave our country? Do we mourn when we have indigestion and materials leave our body?”
The Awami League interfered with the A-21 TV channel’s plans to broadcast inflammatory programming that could destabilize the country. In retaliation, Choudhury launched a cyber campaign to kill Prime Minister Hasina, her family, and other members of her government. Fortunately, he was apprehended before any harm came to his intended victims. Choudhury’s death threats are confirmed by a senior level police officer from Bangladesh who traced the threatening email messages to Choudhury’s email address. This official, who asked to have his name withheld, was instrumental in arresting the criminal. According to Choudhury’s resume, he was imprisoned for sixteen months.
Choudhury was released from prison for making death threats when the government changed in 2001. This is the correct reason why “all charges were dropped,” as Choudhury states in his resume, refuting his unwarranted implication that the charges were found to be groundless. When the Bangladesh Nationalist Party came to power, opposed as they were to the secularism of the Awami League, Choudhury’s threats against the life of the secularist Awami League were viewed in a different light, and Choudhury sprang back into action. Now he went to work for the Daily Inquilab, a seriously Islamist media outfit. When questioned by his American audience about why he worked for such philosophically repugnant people, Choudhury says the economy was bad and he needed the money, but that he himself was just a happy go lucky fellow who had no special affinity for the Inquilab message. In fact, Choudhury explains, he (a married man) brought his girlfriends there and drank alcohol in his office just to show them that he did not share their values. That excuse seems hard to buy, considering his previous ardent commitment to Islamism and the fact that surely Inquilab would have checked him out very carefully before hiring him. These fellows were no lightweights. Funding came from Osama bin Laden and Sadaam Hussein, according to Choudhury, who boasted in the Blitz about his credibility as a counter-terrorism expert because of the seriousness of his previous contacts.
Inquilab was owned by Maulana Abdul Mannan, an alleged mastermind behind the slaughter of intellectuals and professionals during Bangladesh’s War of Independence, according to the NY Times. The now defunct Inquilab organization is believed to have also been funded by the fundamentalist group Jamaat-e-Islami, the South Asia equivalent of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, and the most powerful Islamist party in Bangladesh. While true to the core values of Hasan al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder, the leader of Jamaat, Maulana Moududi, softened the face of this hard core group for the sake of political expediency. Thus, men who were committed to Jamaat did not have to wear beards, and we have no photographs of Choudhury in a beard. Even though female leadership was generally considered invalid, Jamaat accepted a woman, Khaleda Zia, as the leader of a political party that expressed most of their views. As the widow of the assassinated president and former army chief, Ziaur Rahman, she was allowed to lead his old party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Choudhury’s passion for Islamism came through in the fights he picked with non-believers. Hindus at the time of his Inquilab involvement were - and still are - having their property legally but very unjustly seized by Muslims under the Vested Land Act; Hindus were – and still are - raped, beaten, murdered and their temples are destroyed. Choudhury had not one word to say in defense of Hindus. Rather, he called them Malouns, which translates politely as, “someone who has sexual relations with his own sister.” During his two year stint with Inquilab, Choudhury regularly insulted secularists. One of the worst insults this soon-to-become a Muslim Zionist could think of at the time was to call someone an agent for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. This epithet was hurled at Shariar Kabir, a notable human rights activist, well respected among other secularists and intellectuals, while he was imprisoned for protesting the unjust treatment of minorities. Choudhury’s barbs are authenticated by having been published in Inquilab, according to multiple Bangladeshi sources.
Choudhury appears to have been perfectly aligned with his brothers in the Islamist movement, but this job ended too. So what went wrong? He was fired for stealing from them. Choudhury’s Inquilab employers accused him of embezzling about $3,000 that they gave him to buy television equipment. He upped the ante by counter claiming that they owed him $1,000,000 for shares stolen from him. The fact that he invested that much money in an organization he later claims to have had no affinity for just does not add up. We will see later how this might have affected his airport arrest in 2003, the event that put him on the international map. But first, let us look at the material Choudhury has published since his release in 2005. It will help us gain a new perspective on the 2003 airport arrest.
Where Does Choudhury Really Stand In The Political World?
Although Choudhury likes to promote himself as the only Muslim Zionist in the world, it just is not so. The Italian Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi established a group in 1997 that has quietly – without drama or requests for money – been teaching that Muslims should accept Israel as a Jewish state, according to the scriptures of the Koran. Choudhury joined the group and was given a place of honor, which was later rescinded when Sheikh Palazzi learned about the swindles. He booted Choudhury from his group and posted a notice to that effect on his website, which reads in part, “It has recently come to our attention that Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, whom we thought shared our pro-Israel sentiments for noble reasons, has been opportunistically defrauding at least two of his devoted Jewish supporters…”
Choudhury never made peace with the secularists in Bangladesh after his re-invention of himself as a Muslim Zionist. He simply ignored them, and held himself out to be the only brave voice speaking out against Islamism in Bangladesh. Due to insufficient attention given to the secularists in the Western press, an impression arose that Bangladesh was seething with violence towards dissidents, and utterly lacking in awareness of democratic values. That becomes really laughable when one reads the online Bangladeshi English press, such as The Daily Star, The Independent, and many others. While not strong advocates of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, these papers run front page editorials against Islamists. In fact, the Daily Star still archives several articles supporting Choudhury's point of view, a journalistic courtesy he never extends to them, calling the Daily Star terrible names for not fully accepting his agenda. Previously, the Daily Star ran an editorial saying that while they do not share his political convictions, they hope he gets a fair trial. Not to say that Bangladesh does not have serious issues with democratic processes, but if we listen only to Choudhury, we think that he alone is staving off the forces of repression in Bangladesh. Just in terms of demographics, that is impossible. Since about twenty percent of the population is non-Muslim, we can expect that about twenty percent of the journalists in Bangladesh will be non-Muslim and pursue an agenda that is not Islamist. According to a Bangladeshi source, about ninety nine percent of the journalists in the country are against the Islamists. Googling Bangladeshi newspapers, one finds many online English journals and the tone is remarkably like that of mainstream American newspapers.
There is a network of political writers, most of them with graduate degrees and many with teaching positions, that is rich in both numbers and sophistication. They have been committed to democracy and equal rights for minorities from the beginning of their careers, unlike Choudhury. For example, just on the first page of the Bangladeshi based blog known as Mukto-Mona one finds at least sixty secular and humanist intellectuals, including Ali Sina, Syed Kamran Mirza, Abul Kasem, and Alamgir Hussain. They write in English, and who knows how many more write in the same spirit in Bangla. The well- known Ibn Warraq, born in India/Pakistan, also writes for them. Another anti-Islamist blog held in high esteem is Faith Freedom, which was started by a group of Bangladeshis. Some members of these groups have spoken out boldly in protest against the Muslim world’s treatment of Jews and Israel. Choudhury was never a part of these groups, and never acknowledged the support some of their members gave to Jews and Israel, although many of their pro-Israel writings pre-date his dramatic attempt to fly to Israel.
Although Choudhury may act as if there are no centrist Bangladeshi intellectuals, he is not above stealing their work. Writing under the assumed name of Sunita Paul, he lifted five whole paragraphs from a mainstream journalist, Mashuqur Rahman. Choudhury then wrote a slew of articles under the name of Sunita Paul that argued for protecting the Islamist war criminals of 1971. This dangerously inflamed public opinion against the Awami League, and could have incited the destabilization of Bangladesh. Plagiarism appears to be a consistent trait of Choudhury, whether he is writing under the name of Sunita Paul or under his own name of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. Picking out just one example among many, here is an article that Choudhury plagiarized.
Choudhury wrote on May 27, 2010 at Hudsonny.org:
At this time, the largest mosque and cultural center in Manhattan is The Islamic Cultural Center of New York. This $17 million dollar center opened on April 15, 1991, just after the First Gulf War ended. Since September 11th, 2001, a number of controversial statements have came from at least two of the Center's leaders, both of them blaming the Jewish population for the attacks and denying any Muslim involvement.
Compare this with Stefanie Schappert's
earlier paragraph on May 25, 2010 at the examiner.com:
Currently, The Islamic Cultural Center of New York is the largest mosque and Islamic cultural center in Manhattan. The $17 million dollar center opened on April 15,1991, just after the First Gulf War ended. Since September 11th, 2001, a number of controversial statements came from at least two of the centers leaders, both of them blaming the Jewish population for the attacks and denying any Muslim involvement.
You will see that only minor changes were made to the text of this paragraph.
Choudhury’s Newspaper Publishes Islamist, Communist And Anti-West Material
The weekly Blitz’s banner declares it is “THE ONLY ANTI JIHADIST NEWSPAPER CONFRONTING RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM
The Blitz published an article by an openly Islamist writer, someone who backs the terrorist group Jamaat-e-Islami that murdered millions during Bangladesh’s war of independence. On March 31, 2010, the Blitz ran a very disturbing article by an Islamist professor, Dr. Mohammed Saidul Islam, urging that the trials of the war criminals either not be done at all or done in such a way as to protect the war criminals.
This is simply amazing. Jamaat-e –Islami is the same group that was responsible for the massacres of the 1971 war, and that is quite open about their goal of implementing Sharia. Jamaat-e -Islami was even listed as a terrorist group by Choudhury in his self-published book, Inside Madrassa, pg. 264-266. Choudhury must have been so impressed by the dangerousness of this group that he simply repeated the section on it, word for word, paragraph for paragraph. (More likely, it is yet one more example of very sloppy editing in this self-published book, and may even have been a mistake due to an over application of Choudhury’s cut and paste style of authorship.) Dr. Islam, when contacted, identified himself as an assistant professor of Sociology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, with a Western education, and acknowledged that he is the author of an article Why Hizab is Criticized in the West commending the wearing of the hijab as a counter to Western capitalism. The article appeared in a journal, Dakuk, that was launched by pro Islamist Bangladeshis, most of whom live in the U.S. Dr. Islam writes, “Islamic way of life (they call it fundamentalism to instill a notion of stigma and negativity) offers an excellent form of lifestyle, which is totally free of extravagance, hedonism, exploitation, and consumerism. However, these are the inherent characteristics of capitalism.” Destroying capitalism, seen as a decadent product of the secular West, is a primary objective of Islam(ists) as they move towards their goal of creating a caliphate, as will be seen in this Hizb ut-Tahir video promoting a seminar, “Fall Of Capitalism And Rise Of Islam.” Let me be clear. Choudhury ran an article by an Islamist, without comment, who defends the terrorist group Jamaat and aligns himself with the goals of an additional terrorist group that wants to smash capitalism and create a caliphate.
Choudhury took the side of the Islamists in an uproar over a cartoon mocking Mohammed in a Bengali newspaper, the same sort of thing that happened with the protest over Danish cartoons in September, 2005. In September, 2007, the editor of the Bengali daily Prothom Alo published a relatively innocuous drawing about Mohammed. Instead of taking the opportunity to defend free speech and to advance religious tolerance, Choudhury actually went so far as to urge that the publisher of the cartoon be arrested for “blasphemy.” This is clearly showing a preference for the fundamentalist Islam that Bangladesh fought its war of independence to be free of.
On the other hand, Choudhury regularly publishes a Nepalase writer, Dirgha Raj Prasai, who calls Christianity and America demonic forces. Prasai does approve, however, of the nationalistic part of the Maoist movement. What is not generally known in the West – and what Choudhury does not spell out for us – is that in South East Asia Maoists and Islamists often join forces to fight their perceived common enemy of Western capitalism. Prasai would like to see communism spread to the rest of the area
Without any provocation, Choudhury attacked Maronite Christian Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT!forAmerica, one of the leading national organizations concerned with protecting America from Islamist infiltration. Using yet one more pseudonym, Choudhury ran an article in his newspaper that made bizarre, unsubstantiated charges, such as, “(she) even secretly gives encouragement to her ACT comrades in funding murder of Jews and Muslims.”
Starting on September 10, 2010, we see over twenty-five articles singing the praises of North Korea. Some of these articles are authored by the North Korean embassy in Bangladesh. These articles are designated as ‘supplements,’ indicating that they are paid advertisements. However, other articles promoting North Korea are written by men with Anglo names who write in a style quite reminiscent of Choudhury’s, unmistakable for its misuse of English syntax. We do not know what financial arrangements have been made for these articles. Let us keep in mind that North Korea has trade agreements with Iran that include selling Iran nuclear materials. Iran has vowed to destroy Israel as “the little Satan” and the U.S. as “the big Satan.” We are reminded of Choudhury’s acknowledged ties to Iranian Islamists through the book he translated for the Iran Embassy.
What about Israel? Promoting and protecting Israel is supposed to be the Muslim Zionist’s raison d’etre. Choudhury has run only four articles on Israel since the start of 2011. What he has ignored are a series of traumas Israel suffered during the spring of 2011: a devastating fire, possibly arson, that raged through the Carmel forest in December, 2010; the Fogel family massacre in Itamar, Israel, on March 12, 2011; the talks between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu in May, 2011, which were front-page news for other publications because many viewed them as threatening Israel’s very survival as a Jewish state; and Delta Airlines announcing it will bar Jews and Israelis on some of its flights. Yet Choudhury ran an article on May 25, 2011 promoting Ron Paul, who has consistently taken anti-Israel positions as a senator and made many anti- Jewish comments.
Let us keep in mind that Choudhury’s first default on loans from his Zionist supporters (at least, that we are aware of) was in November, 2010. The second was in March, 2010. Could it be that Choudhury realized that Jewish funds would dry up once his theft became well known and so he is turning now to other foreign populations to finance him?
Choudhury Is Feared And Despised Among His Own Countrymen
Choudhury would be hard put to find work among his own Bangladeshi people to support him in the manner to which he has become accustomed. I have communicated with numerous Bangladeshis, both ex-patriots in the US and Bangladeshi citizens in their own country. Here is a compilation of what they say about Choudhury: “Total liar and cheat. Opportunist. Very evil. A common criminal – he belongs in jail. Womanizer. He lives like a prince so why does he need to borrow money? Double agent. A secret Islamist collecting money under cover of being for Jews and Israel. A pay for hire journalist. You people in the West are too good to realize how bad he is.” An official at the Bangladesh embassy described him as a “total fraudster” and confirmed that Choudhury was generally despised in Bangladesh for his dishonesty. As one Bangladeshi blogger wryly put it, “Many close observers of this chameleon think he was the best con man Bangladesh could ever produce.” Choudhury took advantage of the inscrutability of the Internet to gull the Western world into thinking he was the exact opposite of what those who know him close-up have to say about him.
Choudhury’s Conversion From Anti-Jewish To Pro-Jewish Does Not Make Sense
When asked about how he changed his mind from an anti-Jewish position to a pro-Jewish one, he replied that after he worked with Russian Jews at Tass, he got to like them. But this makes no sense! As you will remember, the Tass reference he gives on his resume turns out to be bogus. Besides, even if he had gotten to know Jews at Tass from 1989 to 1995, by his own account he went directly to work in 1995 with virulently anti-Jewish people at A-21 TV, followed by Inquilab. That would mean that right after meeting Jews and liking them, Choudhury went to work against them. Choudhury was brazen enough to tell another lie about his resume while being videotaped at a speech he gave at the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism in October, 2009. He had himself introduced as earning a Master’s degree at the London School of Economics, which we have shown to be untrue. Then Choudhury went on to tell a tall tale about the oppression of the Jewish community in Bangladesh. He claimed that a community of 3,500 Jews was so oppressed that they were not allowed to have their own synagogue or cemetery and had to use the facilities of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Choudhury even went so far as to solemnly intone that the antisemitic Bangladeshi government would deny those figures but that he, a special friend of the Jews, will speak out on their behalf. You can watch this at the 1:36 minute mark on this video. When I fact checked this with Bangladeshi associates, they broke out laughing. “But there are no Jews in Bangladesh,” they told me. This was confirmed by a well- established religious organization dedicated to the welfare of the Jewish people worldwide. After doing a thorough search of their international records at my request, they reported that they are not familiar with any Jews or Jewish community in Bangladesh. Adding to the lack of credibility about Choudhury’s much proclaimed change of heart regarding Jews, he has written not one word explaining his feelings or thoughts about going from extreme Jew hating to extreme Jew loving. Yet he is a man who writes thousands of words a week, some of them about his inner world, as in this piece about not being able to attend his mother’s funeral because he was imprisoned.
Another Look At The 2003 Arrest Story
But, you will ask, what about the famous arrest at the Dhaka airport in 2003? What about all the suffering Choudhury endured afterwards? Did he not act selflessly for Jewish people?
I suggest to you that Choudhury made a reasoned choice to jump start a new leg of his career by contriving to get himself arrested for trying to visit Israel. My take on this is shared by Sajjad Jahir and other Bangladeshi writers. Choudhury’s income stream from his employer, Inquilab, was cut off when they accused him of stealing from them. So he would need another source of money.
The men at Inquilab were Islamists with mobster ties. They would deal harshly with someone they believed defrauded them. According to Bangladeshi journalist Saleem Samed, an Ashoka fellow, who has a blog called Bangladesh Jihad Watch, collecting money in Bangladesh through a civil law suit is not very likely to happen. Consequently, creditors resort to other means, such as seizing the thief and forcing him to hand over the money. Prison might have been safer for Choudhury than being out on the streets. Choudhury was no stranger to imprisonment. He had been locked up sixteen months previously for threatening to kill the Prime Minister and those associated with her. Prison was something he knew he could endure. Investing time in another prison term would be the equivalent, for him, of spending time at a junior college in order to open up future job opportunities.
Choudhury’s photograph at the top of this article reveals him smiling in a self-satisfied way at the moment of his arrest. Who smiles when they find themselves unexpectedly overtaken by police, and arrested? Most people would be scared, angry or ashamed. Choudhury’s happy expression upon being arrested is very suspicious. However, the photograph served a purpose for him and he made sure it reached his potential backers. He emailed the photograph to Dr. Ada Aharoni, the organizer of the Israeli conference. When I spoke to her on June 15, 2011, she expressed anger at being duped into helping Choudhury fool the rest of the world, after he had invited himself to the conference. Dr. Aharoni disclosed that Choudhury asked her to help publicize his planned departure for Israel by announcing it to officials. She stated that Choudhury told her he had already written to officials about his departure. In addition, he asked her to write to the ambassador of Singapore stating his travel plans and asking for the ambassador’s permission to travel through Singapore to Israel. He knew travel to Israel was forbidden, so why did he announce his travel plans to government officials unless he wanted to be arrested? How is it that an associate of his was there at the ready to snap a picture of the arrest? Could the picture taker have been his brother and ever present business partner, Sohail, the same person who counter-signed the bogus contract Choudhury wrote to one of the women he defrauded? Dr. Aharoni says that she had immediate doubts about Choudhury when she saw the smiling photograph of his arrest, but gave him the benefit of the doubt based on her sympathies for his professed support of Israel. At any rate, it was not the travel ban itself that Choudhury was imprisoned for. That was a petty matter, penalized only by an eight dollar fine. Rather, he was charged with sedition because objectionable documents were found on his person as he traveled. This too looks like he was asking to be arrested. Choudhury could easily have scanned the documents that were critical of the Bangladesh government and emailed them to his Israeli contacts.
Choudhury went to Israel looking for money, although he denies asking for funding. A December 2003 Israeli news story states that Choudhury was found with a "project profile seeking a fund of TK 12 crore," or approximately US$193,000. The money seeking part of his arrest story has since been dropped from subsequent articles as he has come to be seen as an uncontested hero with noble motives. However, money seeking has been part of Choudhury’s interactions with his fans for a long time after the arrest. Choudhury tells the world that he is called into court every two months or so after his release on bail. At times he puts out urgent notices to his fans that he could be executed at his next court appearance. For example, in March, 2010, he wrote to an American friend that he was sure he would not be taken back into custody when he appeared for his next trial date, and that for a long time nothing at all has happened when he shows up for pro forma court appearances. Yet six months later, on September 22, 2010, he sent out an urgent press release stating that he was going back to trial on October 5, 2010 and could be executed. He asked for support, which implicitly means money. Concerning his safety, he wrote to the same American friend in February, 2010 that he had to pay for a bodyguard all the time and that it was expensive. Yet when his friend Richard Benkin visited him for several days in 2007, at a time when the political climate would have been hotter, not cooler, he reported seeing no bodyguard with Choudhury. Even as I write, Choudhury is making another false claim, repudiated by Bangladeshi journalist Saleem Samad, that the government is harassing him by not permitting him to leave the country. His pose as an endangered and deprived hero has brought him a handsome living over the years.
Six years after his release from prison, Choudhury publishes freely. No one denies him the right to express himself. In fact, his media interests are expanding to the cinema. His latest use of media is producing a movie called “Black” that is supposed to protest Islam’s oppression of women. That is highly ironic, considering his emotionally crafted exploitation of female financial victims, and the many online comments calling him a womanizer seen here and in other places.
Did Choudhury’s attempt to break Bangladesh’s ban on travel to Israel have a good impact? Probably not. According to an article in an Indian newspaper on June 25, 2003, five months before Choudhury set off to break the travel ban, Bangladesh was considering recognizing Israel anyway. Bangladesh’s motivations were twofold: to gain more trade concessions from the U.S. and to further world peace. The secularist Awami League, the one that Choudhury has usually been at odds with, was for recognizing Israel while the communists were against it. The uproar caused by Choudhury’s quasi attempt to travel to Israel actually may have set back the cause of recognizing Israel. Bangladeshis resented being manipulated by someone they pegged as a charlatan who could nevertheless pull in the big guns of naïve American intervention. If Choudhury’s true motive were eliminating the Bangladeshi government’s ban on travel to Israel, why did he not challenge the ban before he tried to travel to Israel and why has his defense not challenged it since? Instead, the defense has relied on the prosecution not being able to bring forth a witness. But that makes no sense. Choudhury admits that he was at the airport trying to travel to Israel. The issue should not be whether or not he was breaking the ban, but the legitimacy of the ban itself. That would help other people who want to travel to Israel as well as him. Yet for all his so called heroism, Choudhury has not contested the travel ban itself.
Choudhury: A Clear And Present Danger
His publication, the WeeklyBlitz, supports regimes that threaten his own country, the region, and the world.
Bangladesh is a gateway to terrorist ambitions in the area. It has been off the radar in terms of receiving the world’s attention as a potential hot bed of terrorism. Militant groups like Jamaat ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Jihad-i-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI-B) and even al Qaida are growing there in relative security, taking advantage of the breathing space offered them by the indifference of the Western world as they consolidate their strength and plan for outreach. Note that Choudhury gave his support to the banned HUJI-B party by attending the Iftar dinner in September, 2008. From Bangladesh, jihadis can easily spread their influence to surrounding countries. India is especially vulnerable. Bangladesh is a tiny country surrounded almost completely by India. These long borders are porous, giving jihadis an opportunity to enter India from Bangladesh and undermine the largest non-Muslim ruled democracy in South East Asia. From India, jihadis can then be positioned to consolidate forces with fundamentalists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. As we have seen, Choudhury is now supporting North Korea, the nuclear buddy of genocide seeking Iran, which has vowed to destroy both Israel and America. Additionally, Choudhury is showing support for other communists in South East Asia, withdrawing support for Israel, and allowing wild hatred to be expressed in his newspaper towards Christianity and the United States. Relying on a fraudulent platform of being a great friend of the West, he continues to take money from supporters, both as voluntary donations and as grand larceny via fraud. Where this money goes is a mystery – an alarming one.
Also very troubling are Choudhury’s ties to Islamists, Mafia type criminals, and dictators in Iran. The FBI is aware that terrorists, mobsters and dictators, although they may have different ideologies, will do business with each other in “grey markets” where they can raise money for their nefarious purposes. Choudhury may be operating in the area of grey markets, which can be either on the ground or online. As we have seen, Choudhury has had and still has ties to all three categories of these antisocial persons. His website, Jethro Conglomerates, has been flagged as a scam operation, and this should be further investigated. Choudhury has shown that he is skilled in using the Internet for criminal activities: the death threats made against Prime Minister Hasina, the many deceptions involved in creating and maintaining the myth that he is a persecuted friend of the West, the defrauding of the two Zionist women, and now Jethro Conglomerates. What we have seen so far may be just the tip of the iceberg, and I hope authorities investigate Choudhury’s activities thoroughly.
To date, none of the well-known American figures who made Choudhury famous have responded when they were told directly about his financial crimes. They could have publically withdrawn, or even modified, their uncritical support for him. By failing to do so, they are continuing to empower an individual who is harmful on many levels.
Since writing the first part of this series on Choudhury, I have received numerous emails from Bangladeshis fed up with Choudhury’s many years of chicanery. They are not Islamists or anti-Zionists, as Choudhury would like to say, dismissing anyone who criticizes him. Rather, they ask me not to let Choudhury’s hateful actions poison inter-faith relations. What breaks my heart is that they are afraid to speak out because they see Choudhury protected by American diplomatic forces, and under that cover, getting away with all manner of offenses. How revolting that that our government’s power would be misused to protect evil. It must end.
Brenda West is an occasional commenter on the political scene. She can be reached at [email protected]